IN THE DOGHOUSE: Kevin Hillier

■ While footy never stops, I’m glad racing gets its chance in the spotlight in spring. There’s a lot of focus on Werribee because that’s where the international horses are housed and every major race is becoming more and more an international event. No one will be surprised if an international horse wins the Melbourne Cup again, and that’s not a bad thing. We live in a fast- changing global sporting community. We’ve had an Irishman win a Brownlow medal, Japanese horses win the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups and cricketers born overseas don the baggy green cap. In baseball, basketball, netball, soccer and cricket we have overseas players in local teams. This promotes an exchange of ideas and styles which is good for all.

■ Soccer is on the rise in Australia and I can’t believe the talk generated by Melbourne’s two A-League teams, Victory and City. While it isn’t yet Collingwood v Carlton, it’s well on its way. Many of the Victory heroes live in the west and that certainly helps, but the game itself is growing in participation and popularity. The crowds at Etihad Stadium and AAMI Park prove that. I have also noticed lots of kids kicking soccer balls at schools and parks in the area. While I don’t think the AFL is quaking in its boots, it needs to be aware the landscape is changing. When I asked my nine-year-old son which he preferred, he said soccer. Victory’s win the night before was still fresh in his mind but it may also be a sign of the times.

■ Plenty of footy rumours doing the rounds but I’m pleased to see Brad Julier named as senior coach of Port Melbourne for 2015, Laverton has appointed Christian Spence, Wyndhamvale has gone for Troy Beamond and Nathan Juegan will take Parkside back into Division 1 next year. Sorry to see Joel West leave St. Albans for Northcote Park and Jason Cloke heading to Craigieburn.

■ I had the privilege of being MC at the closing ceremony of the Special Olympics national games at the Palais Theatre on Friday. It was a joy to see more than 1000 athletes and their carers, volunteers, families and friends celebrate a wonderful week of activities. The games were created to give those with intellectual challenges the chance to show their athletic abilities. I’ve never worked before a more responsive and enthusiastic audience.

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