Tuesday, May 22, 2012

There are those you can’t help but like. That they are an irresistible force of nature need not be debated as nothing one does ever prevails upon them to dampen down their impact on the sporting universe.

The world is their oyster, allowing their appetite for success to ravish the trials and tribulations that life hurls their way. For a smile is only a heartbeat away, genuine humility makes a splash every day.

You wish you could find something to tear them asunder with, for they are oh so perfect. But, infuriatingly, you can’t because they’re just so damn likable.

Talent and a down home attitude go hand in hand for these types.

And in this vein I am here to announce to the world of sport my unabashed admiration for all that is Irene Van Dyke.

You see, I am particularly taken with Irene. It is not so much about aesthetics, either. It’s not that she doesn’t look the part but, as we all find out eventually, looks come and looks go. There has to be more than the trivial for the fans to procure a meaningful and lasting connection with their favourite stars.

All too often the aspects of the beautiful can be misleading, drawing the weak in, trapping the minds of the gullible, and leading to false adulation.

Just as outer appearances can leave one standing on shaky ground with the bitter aftertaste of the superficial lingering, there, on the flipside, is the inner glow of Irene melting even the most ardent cynic’s sporting heart, to balance the ledger.

True, the primal urges of the Neanderthal are what matter most for some, that is to be sure, but the shallow are more than welcome to the lite side of life if they so choose.

That is their prerogative, of course.

Many of us desire more from our heroes, though. Substance is what we crave.

And Irene Van Dyke is laden with a wealth of heavy hitting moral decency.

You see, it is all that the great lady stands for that I so adore. There is more to this champion than a ninety-five percent shooting rate. Take a spade into the inner sanctum of her soul and you will be sure to find a heart prospering with pride - yet, not a little prejudice – along with a healthy dose of kindness all interspersed with the work ethic of a trojan and the ruthless ambition to stay at the top of a game she has dominated for nigh on two decades. But all within societies boundaries of acceptable behaviour.

No wonder she’s a superstar, and popular too, what with a sparkling personality that jumps out at you, ensnaring your attention. She is the lady with the biggest and most endearing of smiles that can be found as it bounds effortlessly along life’s highway picking up willing passengers and treating them to the delights of one of this Country’s finest even before they get to experience the sheer magnificence that the best of the best talent we possess has to tender.

Here we have an ageless wonder who is arguably the greatest netballer of all time, yet the proud New Zealander succeeds in achieving this while managing to display an attractive demeanour, too.

A winning talent with a winning personality, united they stand.

These qualities remain steadfast on their ground, refusing to be isolated, but that’s our Irene for you. No matter the situation, nothing is too much trouble for the Wellingtonian. Never one to leave any given scenario untouched by her magical personality, a smile from Irene is all that is needed to disarm the surliest of demeanours. She’s a natural is our Irene, the nicest of the nice, by no chance is she mean.

While some champions are as appealling as a long soak in a bath full of acid, others are pleasant - maybe too pleasant – but don’t possess the killer instinct within. They try their darndest but for whatever reason don’t have the x-factor that searches out that extra one percent needed to reach the dizzying heights of Irene; For it passes them by unseen. Effort was never one to evade these folk, but they could not scrub up when it mattered most.

Not Irene, though.

She is the total package in the right kind of way. Star quality exudes in excess from the pores of this 6ft 3in wonder woman. She’s nobody’s girl Friday, though still a consummate team player. The lead singer, but without the diva like displays of petulance in the form of insecurities that pores out of lesser mortals.

Forty years to the good and here she is as sprightly as ever. Year after year, she keeps getting better. Her foe pound Irene to a bloody pulp, yet she maintains an air of dignified grace under fire, shooting yet another dagger at the winning chances of a flushed, haggard foe, then flashing that wondrous smile for the entire world to see. Oh how it must rile her opponents, snap their will and send them spiralling into the heated realms of despair.

Why doesn’t she retire and save them from this savage beating of the mind that she hands out with monotonous regularity? I mean, it’s not really fair on the opposition, but that’s what I like about Irene, she is her own woman.

Clearly enjoying what she does, the wife and mother of one has no intention of being told that she is too old for this netballing caper. For so long now Irene has had to suffer calls for her retirement. Despite this her disposition remains as sunny as ever.

Nothing gets her down as she carries on her merry way living the life that has seen her praises sung for many a year, and, more than likely, will for many more to come.

She’s got the talent, the personality, the attitude, the smile, she really has got it all.

Yes, that talent, that personality, that attitude, that smile – now that’s why I like Irene. For she is the best there has ever been.


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