Sports fans won’t know where to look in 2018.
It’s set to be a massive year, particularly for those of us in WA. Feverish anticipation reigns for the opening of Perth Stadium with cricket, rugby league, soccer, AFL and AFL W scheduled.
Turn on the box, and there’s major global contests aplenty. Take your marks.
Australia vs England One Day International, Perth Stadium, January 28
More than 50,000 fans. At a cricket match against the Old Enemy. In Perth? Have we entered some sort of wild alternate reality? It’s to be a sporting crowd the scale of which WA has never seen, ousting the 1979 WAFL grand final’s 52,781 punters as the biggest attendance in state history.
UFC 221, Perth Arena, February 11
It’s the event that was outlawed by the former State Government. How’s that for a tag line? Ex-Premier Colin Barnett dug a goldmine of free exposure for the UFC with his decision to ban “cage fighting” in 2013. Talk about your all-time backfires. With the current Government having lifted the ban, the intensely popular combat sport makes its Perth debut. Australian Rob Whittaker headlines the card, looking to defend his middleweight title against American Luke Rockhold.
A new era for WA rugby in the Super W Competition
WA has a new team to champion after the disappointing demise of the Western Force. A national rugby competition is the latest product of the rise and rise of women’s elite sport. The five-team 15-a-side showdown is to run from March to April.
Fremantle vs West Coast, first Western Derby at Perth Stadium, April 29
It will surely be the loudest derby of the sides’ 23-year rivalry. A crowd 50 per cent bigger than what Subiaco Oval could manage will amplify the atmosphere at WA’s new home of football. It was disappointing it was not given the opportunity to shine in a night slot. But the Sunday afternoon clash will add a momentous chapter to the Dockers-Eagles chronicles.
A decision on WA F1 ace Daniel Ricciardo’s future
The Duncraig dynamo has talent to burn. But not yet the car to take him to a world championship. The Red Bull Racing driver’s contract is up this year. Will he stay or will he go? The writing will be on the wall if his trademark grin is wiped by yet another run of frustrating mechanical setbacks.
Winter Olympics, South Korea, February 9 to February 25
Australia is tipped to field its most successful team ever. It’s a line we hear every four years but, if you ask veteran aerial skier David Morris, there’s a sense of validity to it this time. “I do honestly believe this is the strongest team we could possibly have,” he said recently. World champions Scotty James (snowboarding) and Britt Cox (moguls) stand as Australia’s gold medal hopes.
Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast, April 4 to April 15
The country’s top athletes winning a swag of medals on home soil on the Gold Coast. England topped the medal tally at the 2014 meet in Glascow taking 58 gold to Australia’s 49. It would be embarrassing to have them do that again, particularly on our turf.
FIFA World Cup, Russia, June 14 to July 15
Australia took the longest route of any team in FIFA history to earn its place in Russia. Optimism is high with the Socceroos avoiding a group of death in their draw of France, Peru and Denmark. Hope rages for Tim Cahill to make one last World Cup appearance. Debate on who should coach the side rolls on. Australia’s first game is against France on June 16.
Hockey World Cups; women – London, July 21 to August 5; men – India, November 28 to December 16
The Hockeyroos haven’t won a World Cup in 20 years. The Kookaburras have won the last two. The pressure is on for Australia’s top men’s and women’s teams for two very different reasons. The Kookaburras will look to become the first team in tournament history to win three straight. The Hockeyroos have a World Cup monkey on their backs.
AFC Women’s Asian Cup, Jordan, April 6 to April 20
A dominant showing for the Matildas at this tournament will put their rivals on notice for the 2019 World Cup. Expect Sam Kerr mania to hit fever pitch as Australia looks to claim back the title it last won in 2010. The Matildas open their campaign against South Korea on April 7.