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Lucas Gillard ‘97 has always had a passion for reciting sporting statistics but admits his ‘skill’ may have been unwelcome in many situations at school!
It seems fitting that decades later he has co-authored a book ‘Be My Guest – Football Superstars in Australia’, which highlights international superstars of the game who have played for a time in Australia.
The book starts with the incredible tale of Alex ‘Sandy’ Young, one of Everton’s most prolific goalscorers, who settled in Tongala in country Victoria in 1914. More familiar household names are covered in the book and many who might surprise football (soccer) fans. They include Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best, Trevor Francis, Kevin Keegan, Bobby Moore, Iaonnis Samaras, David Provan, Ossie Ardiles, Ray Clemence, Paul Mariner and Nicola Berti. The book recounts what was involved in bringing the players to Australia, and how the players, clubs, fans and competition benefited. Furthermore, it examines the simple but often flawed logic that, bringing football superstars to Australia would provide a turbo boost to Australia’s domestic football competition, whether that be the former National Soccer League or the A-League.
The book was a labour of love for Lucas whose passion for football was really ignited at the tail end of his high school experience. He professes to “being born with two left feet, so my absence from IGS soccer squads was no great loss to the school’s fortunes on the pitch. Some sportsmen were made for sitting behind a desk.”
Lucas wrote ‘Be My Guest’ at his desk during the lockdown of 2020 while juggling his fulltime job in marketing and his four-year old daughter Darby, who never quite believed his claim that ‘dad was writing a story’. Lucas commented “even if she did, football was the least of her interests at the time: a painful fact that continues today.”
Today Lucas balances work, remote learning and the pressing needs of his second daughter Tully, who was born late July 2021. He hopes she may one day be willing to join him for 5am Champions League finals but doesn’t hold much hope!
To purchase Be My Guest go to https://www.fairplaypublishing.com.au/product-page/be-my-guest-football-superstars-in-australia or good bookstores/Amazon. It can be also purchased as an e-book and will be available in the IGS libraries.
Richard Merjan had never been in a kayak until his first session during Year 7 in the IGS swimming pool and he was hooked! He credits finding his passion to his time at the School and the two key kayaking teachers, Mr. Gibbs and Mr. Hogg, and recalls the rapid development of the sport. In Year 9 he was a member of the Australian Junior Development Team and was travelling and competing for Australia overseas.
Richard always knew he wanted to compete on the biggest stage possible, the Olympics. He raced in many Australian teams during 2003-2008. He knew a time would come where he would need to make some important decisions regarding the balance between kayaking and studying.
Richard held dual citizenship and began racing for Lebanon in 2009. In 2016 he qualified for the Rio Olympic Games. Richard balanced full time work, study and a vigorous training schedule, strategically pinpointing the international races he needed to compete in, setting and achieving goals along the way. He is forever grateful for the support he received from the Lebanese Olympic Committee, Australian Canoeing, Ivanhoe Grammar School and of course his mother.
His coach, Zlatan Ibrahimbegovic, who Richard credits as one of the ‘biggest inspirations of his life’, always instilled the importance of study and ‘life after a sporting career.’ This advice prompted Richard to consider another passion which included numbers and the stock market.
Richard completed a double Bachelor Degree in Commerce and Arts, majoring in Finance and Arabic and subsequently a Master of Business Administration from Monash Business School in 2019.
His commercial finance career was kick-started in 2012 when he graduated, with the assistance of OIGA Executive Officer, Geoff Brown (’62), who connected him to fellow alumni and former CEO of Etihad Airways, James Hogan (’75). James assisted Richard in gaining an internship in Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways. His career progressed with a graduate position at Deloitte in Australia, followed by commercial finance positions at Jetstar Airways and Bapcor. Currently, Richard is working for Hanwha Defence Australia in a strategic role.
The support which these companies provided throughout his training was instrumental in Richard competing at an unforgettable experience at the Rio Olympics.
Watching the coverage of the Tokyo Olympics was bittersweet for him, as the lockdowns impacted his training to the point where he withdrew from the Asian qualifiers. However, he has his sights set on Paris 2024 and the qualification events in 2023.
Richard’s advice to young alumni and current year 12 students is to “have the confidence to ask questions, reach out to alumni for mentoring or advice especially during lockdowns and these uncertain times, keep a routine, set goals and stay hungry! This is so important – balancing family/ friends, education, exercise and career.”
We wish Richard every success in his career and look forward to cheering him on in Paris!
Photo Credit: JGR images
Introduced to the performing arts at a young age, Thomas’ dream was to be an actor.
Growing up all elements of live theatre fascinated him. Performance, Music, Production, Sound & Lighting, it didn’t matter, he was hooked, he loved it all. It was no surprise that during his time at IGS he was involved in the Performing Arts. His final year a highlight where he played Pontius Pilate in the school production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
He auditioned for the Queensland Conservatory at Griffith University whilst he was in year 12 and knew the percentage of offers into the course by a school leaver were extremely low but, his sights were set. Thomas fondly remembers the moment he received his offer – only moments before sitting his year 12 English Exam he recalls ‘it was a strange feeling. I felt so lucky – it was the only audition I attended and wanted. I felt it was the best fit for me and then I had to focus and sit my English Exam.’
He moved to Qld in January 2018 and describes his time as ‘an incredible experience, a highly disciplined environment with great friends who became family and I got to dance, sing, act and have voice training every day!’
In 2019, after his performance for Carols by Candlelight for the Victorian Police he was approached by Chairman of the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation Board, David Mann AM to be an Ambassador for Blue Ribbon. A position he still holds today.
Then covid hit.
Fortunately, in his final year of studies (2020) he was able to perform the graduate show at the beginning of the year before Lockdown. Not long after the performance, all students were informed
to ‘go home’ as all was so uncertain. ‘It was hard to leave, not only had we become like family, but we didn’t know if we were coming back. It makes you rethink everything.’
By June 2020 the university gave students permission to resume the course on campus.
‘It was a big rush back, I finally graduated but performances were cancelled, and others needed to be reworked and were smaller. I was grateful to be back on campus, but it was hard to see what my family were going through in Melbourne’.
At the end of the course, he returned to Melbourne and started working on his one man show
The show, an original compilation by Thomas, takes the audience on a journey of his thoughts when he stays up late at night. Interestingly when submitting his application for the Melbourne Cabaret Festival in early 2021, the original piece of music he used included a piano/synthesizer, cello and drums which create an eccentric sound throughout the show. With the application successful, he performed
‘Basically Nocturnal’ to a packed house and great reviews in June this year at ‘Chapel on Chapel’.
Unfortunately, elation turned to disappointment when another Victorian lockdown was introduced, and the show could not continue for further performances.
Looking back, Thomas commented ‘it was a wonderful night’ and he was pleased the comedic element of the show ‘landed with the audience’.
‘Basically Nocturnal’ also got noticed by the organisers of the ‘Wynnum Fringe Festival’ who invited Thomas to perform the show on 21 November 2021 at the festival in Brisbane.
Tickets for the show can be purchased at https://www.wynnumfringe.com/tickets/?EventID=79
We wish Thomas every success and look forward to eventually seeing him to fulfil another dream of his and work overseas.
Enjoy Coffee? Hot Chocolate? Tea?
On Thursday 19th August – let us brighten your day and buy you a coffee. Collaborating with alumni businesses Magnolia Cafe and Restaurant (Jacson Cecil ’10) in Doreen and Mr Peebles (Scott Curatolo ’00) in Ivanhoe all coffees, hot chocolates and teas will be on us between 9am – 2pm to all alumni.
If you live within the 5km covid restriction zone of either Doreen or Ivanhoe – take a break, go on a walk, grab a coffee and call a mate. Don’t forget to mention the OIGA when ordering!
Over the holidays alumna Olivia Loh ’17 was busily installing the incredible Ivanhoe Learner Attributes mural at the University Campus.
This mural will be replicated across the School and visually links our campuses together.
In conjunction with the Global Citizenship Centre Olivia developed the concept, incorporated the UN Goals and came up with the distinctive rainbow colors you can see in the mural.
To include current students’ artwork, she ran workshops where students were bought into the design process.
To see the mural come to life – CLICK HERE