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By Magnus Nygren Syversen
(Photos courtesy of Victor Ivanin and Stine Busch) 

About twenty young Europeans and Australians currently studying or working in Melbourne gathered at Bella Union on the corner of Lygon Street and Victoria Street this Sunday, joining a buzzing crowd to take part of the phenomenon that is Eurovision.

The yearly song competition began as far back as in 1956 and still gathers millions of Europeans in front of the television screens every year. This year the competition was held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Monash Exchange co-founder and organiser of the Eurovision event at Bella Union, Victor Ivanin.

Victor Ivanin, born and raised in Siberian Russia and currently residing in Bentleigh East, is a former post-graduate student at Monash University. Seeing an unfulfilled need at Monash for a student organisation that helped foreign students get in touch with young men and women in the same situation as themselves, Ivanin co-founded Monash Exchange (MEX), an unofficial organisation for foreign students at Monash University. However, through the use of social media such as Facebook the organisation stretches beyond just Monash students.

Having previously hosted several events in the previous year, it was through MEX Ivanin invited everyone to join him at Bella Union for a Eurovision extravaganza. Using Facebook as a medium to reach the masses, the event soon gained popularity, and while some appologetically declined around 20 students from countries such as Russia, France, Norway and Australian, amongst others, gathered at Bella Union to watch the Eurovision final. At the bar they were met by a larger crowd than perhaps expected.

“There must be over a hundred people here,” said Ida Waeraas, a Norwegian Deakin University graduate currently working in the CBD. Stine Busch, another Norwegian who graduated from Deakin University last year, argued that there must have been at least twice that amount, and Ivanin estimated the number of people was even more than that, suggesting a crowd of over 300. Whereas the exact number of people attending the event was difficult to determine, one thing is certain: Free seats were few and far between.

Ivanin was very happy with the turnout, and applauded the venue for its presentation of the song contest. “The night turned out surprisingly good, and the venue was absoutely jumping,” he said.

The two Norwegian girls also praised the athmosphere at Bella Union on Sunday night, poiting out that everyone in the audience seemed to have a great time and looked very engaged with the competition.

When it comes to the results Ivanin had a bit more to cheer for than Busch and Waeraas, with the Russian contribution “Party For Everybody” by Buranovskive Babushki, a group of old babushka-wearing grannies, coming in second place. Having handed out score sheets beforehand he could keep track of the points Russia gathered from its fellow European nations.

The audience watches as Norway’s contestant Tooji is voted last.

Unfortunately for the Norwegian girls this was not Norway’s night, with the nation’s hoepful artist Tooji finishing dead last with his song “Stay”. To add to the disappointment for the Norwegians, their arch-rival and neighbour Sweden took home the gold in this year’s competition. Swedish sweetheart Loreen was a favourite coming into the competition, and let nobody down with her “Euphoria”. Charming audiences across Europe the 28 year old took a comfortable win 113 points clear of Russia in second place.

Putting results aside Ivanin, Waeraas and Busch, as well as the rest of the MEX group, agreed this was a night they would all look back on with fondness.

 By Magnus Nygren Syversen 

Quick and technical Etihad KSA proved unstoppable Thursday, beating their opponents, Hammers, 6-1 in the final as the Deakin YMCA indoor soccer season came to an end.

Indoor soccer, or futsal, is a growing sport in Melbourne. Hosting one competetition for each trimester of the school year, Deakin YMCA saw enough teams sign up this trimester to form three divisions – grade A, B and C.

Last Wednesday saw the league stage of the competition come to an end with the tough and physical team Hammers clinching the top spot, beating their smaller, more agile rivals Etihad KSA on goal difference. Both teams finished on 20 points, both having won five games, lost one and drawn two.

After seeing away their semi-final opposition, with Hammers beating Sunny Boy and Etihad beating Power Rangers respetively, the two top teams faced each other in the final Thursday. What looked like a close game on paper proved to be nothing but, as speed trumped power and Etihad proved simply too much for Hammers to handle.

Over 20 supporters cheered Etihad on from the sideline, singing, chanting and waving Saudi Arabian flags. The players, a group of young Arab students spread out at several univeristies in Melbourne clearly benefitted from the support, and were quick to address the crowd with each ball that founds its way to the back of the net.

With a 3-0 lead at half-time Etihad looked comfortable going in to the second half. A quick goal by Hasan Aljubran increasing the lead to 4-0 only a minute into the half helped their confidence grow even further.

Hammers never gave up, even after letting in a fifth and sixth goal, and kept fighting to the final whistle. They managed to get a consolation goal late in the half, but from first whistle to last there was never any real doubt as to who the winners were going to be.

Etihad players celebrate with their fans after becoming Deakin YMCA Grade A Indor Soccer champions.

As the final whistle went the Arabian cheer squad stormed the pitch and celebrated with the players, throwing them up in the air. Etihad had claimed a convincing 6-1 victory, and could lift the trophy as the new Deakin YMCA Grade A Indoor Soccer Champions.

Runners-up Hammers finished first in the league, but admitted they were beaten by a better team in the final.

Hammers deserve praise for their fighting spirit, and will get a chance to their revenge on Etihad when a new competition starts in Trimester 2.