Thinking out of the box

Boxing has always been there.

We were raised on the Philadelphia legend that was Rocky Balboa, we knew that Fridays nights were East Rand boxing nights on the main television and we thank Game stores for returning the everlasting brand Everlast, right?

All of these years later, I have figured that the beauty in boxing is in the will to square up on an equal plane, to fight fiercely and to not fall. How else may a barbaric bout be so neatly tempered into a competition of skill and discipline?

So I scratched my head slightly when the #MayweathervMcgregor fight was made ‘official’ and now that it is a few seconds away – with no indication of cancellation, clearly – I am trying to understand just where the heck the beauty is in this.

Trash talk too much

The art of ‘trash talk’ has degenerated into an awkward spectacle of snapbacks that I am unsure serves sport in any way. Granted, this gives to the build-up of the fight and all of that shock value, but to hear grown men calling one another “bitch,” “hoe” and “little girl” has to make one wonder what we are accepting as the norm. It boggles my mind that this is practically all that it took for 26 August 2017 to be sanctioned: no Olympic credentials, no ongoing title battle, no past meeting of the two – just a load of trash talk.

Cut from the same canvas

UFC and WBO are as much worlds apart as are netball and basketball, or, baseball and cricket. For fundamental intents and purposes, the two may be common based on minor similarities but it cannot be said that they are the same. What stands out are the physiological limitations in pitting both athletes against one another and the fact that seems to have been sidelined.

“We were very surprised this bout was even sanctioned and was going to be permitted to carry on. The thing I really fear, truly fear, is that somebody’s going to get really hurt in this upcoming fight.'” – Larry Lovelace, President: Association of Ringside Physicians.

Taking a gamble

Betting has become a brazen player in virtually any professional sport league, much to the detriment of those who believe in the puritan participation in any exchange these days. But a merit to the fight seems to have been found in the high stakes invested in the make up of the men behind both Floyd and Conor. From their hometowns, in their technical teams and by their promoters, the story makes for an enticing gamble on the ‘devil you know versus the angel you don’t.’

Money makes the world go ’rounds

A lot of corporations – and the players themselves – are set to make a lot of money out of this mis-marriage. Television rightsholders are basking in their glorious methods of pay-per-view and premium subscription. Brand logo’s have clamored on to every thread possible. Mayweather is selling tequila. And Mcgregor is selling toothpaste. It all makes for ridiculously fun boxing cents for many over a weekend of debit orders for most.

“I am honoured to be here, to give you this spectacle. His [Mayweather] little legs, his little core, his little head, I am going to knock him out inside four rounds, mark my words. I am a young, confident, happy man that has worked extremely hard for this. He will be unconsciousness in four rounds. He has never faced this. I don’t fear him.” Conor McGregor (at opening tour press conference, Los Angeles, 11 July 2017)

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

If one was to look at the upside, perhaps this fight isn’t the frolic that it has posited itself to be. Perhaps there is something that both the UFC and WBO can reap from this that is beneficial to both the wrestling and boxing worlds apart. Perhaps it is good that at a portion of the world’s population anticipates tuning into the fanfare that may, in turn, bring the crowds back to boxing or give the UFC some new kinda’ street cred. Social media will undoubtedly not be short of #hashtags to update and some will – for the sake of pop culture – not want to miss out on this out of sheer curiosity.

Perhaps I ought to sleep now.

Perhaps I won’t miss much.

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Neon Run JHB 2014

I ran my first 5 kilometres on the Neon Run “the other day.” In review of the experience, here are 9 pointers worth sharing that I figured out along the way.

BEFORE
Nerves
During the week of the race, I contemplated withdrawing from the team at least once every few hours. I had enough pride and sense not to do so and realized that the better part of the nerves lay in the thrill of seeing the challenge through. Let nerves fuel you.

Detox
In the days leading up to the race, cut out down on the alcohol, tobacco and whatever other garbage you habitually ingest. Turn down for what, you might ask? Turn down for substance overload, that’s what!

Pack the necessary essentials
Not a lot of thought goes into Vaseline, a mobile phone and cash in a sling pack. But on a chilly evening, tissue will come in handy for the inevitable running-runny nose. If you have a good phone or camera, keep that with you too. Hairclips and gum are also a must-have (trust me).

Neon Run JHB 2014 Route

DURING
In it to win it
As much of a fun run / walk / skate as the Neon Race was advertised to be, I refused to think of it as anything less than a competition. I took all of this rather seriously and this mind-set kept me determined to commit and continue throughout.

Expect the unexpected
In my head, the mission was to: keep breathing, don’t faint, and stay awake. Blessed to have conquered all three, I did not expect the unexpected scenarios which included swerving through couples strolling on romantically and having to slam momentum to keep from slamming into a pregnant lady. 

Screen_20140530_215054

Playlist                                                 I – subconsciously – compiled a playlist before the race commenced. Over the time, it served me well to control thoughts and even breathing. If you are lucky, the songs will present themselves at just the right moment to keep your rhythm going. I had a good sprint to Neyo’s ‘Sexy Love’ – coincidence. 

AFTER

Hydrate
At the finish line, I remember carrying on “I want a drink, who wants a drink.” My fundamentally stupid error was to take in no liquids the hour before the race, the hour of the race and the hour after the race. The idea of stopping at the water point felt like a waste of time for the weak but it is best that you take in liquid, even if just once.

Forget your fear
Our team of 5 broke up within 5 minutes into the run. At first, I panicked. But the panic soon turned into a peaceful space in which to pace oneself. I think I even tied my top back and let my tummy out. Let go of the inhibitions.

Stretch
On the rise of road to the finish line, I felt a strain on the left groin side. This grew sharper and lasted for just over a day. I felt hip bones that I did not know existed with every move that I made for a good few more days. Warm up your body before you run; and warm it down thereafter.

As the crowd from the starting point slowly dispersed to allow enough running space, congestion along the route remained high. Instances in which you will be forced to stop and walk will be too many. 38 minutes was 8 minutes over the time that I had intended to finish within. I was left proud but somewhat frustrated.

V, N, G, M

So proud and frustrated that I would do this again. It was good to follow through on a first-time experience. Of special mention is that I had a bunch of winners for teammates which made for genuine fun. Here’s to a next night race!

 

It’s a new art form

When you train, when you exercise, when you compete, you become particularly aware of the lyrical content that subconsciously stimulates you. You become aware of the tone, pitch, and touch of it all, every line, every word, and how you relate to it at best. Characterized by bass drums, pump-up value and sing-along songs, young music has, however, taken to forms of lyrical truths that lay bare passion and pride. And this is how I came to wonder as to whether this specific song could fall into the Playlist category. [Cue: Lorde]

Lorde - Tennis-Court

By stripping away the upbeat all-I-do-is-win vibe, could the self-same references to battle, pain, joy and victory provide subconscious stimulation of the mind and body in the scheme before / of / after training, exercise or competition? On a scale of one to conscious embodiment, I give it a good nine. Call it a new art form or something. Press play.

Run the Block

The unforced error that has culminated in my hiatus from blogging means that I may reveal more than I should. And that is fine – it is, after all, what a good lil’ blog is all about!

I always said that I would never run for leisure and I really prefer to run from something as opposed to something, except say the late train or to give someone something urgently, you know, pressing matters. Having a fast metabolism and not-yet your own vehicle can condition one to such thinking.

But I took to a sporadic instance today on a mission to the local store. This was not the plan, but as a Cassie tune began to convince me to get moving in the strong drizzle, my soles in New Balance 470V2’s felt a little turned on. I also happened to be wearing my grey Rocky-style hoodie: the scene was set. So I began …
… running for a block.
And another block …
… then trailing downhill and running another block.
And then, another …
… running the block.

I ran until my fisted hands began to lose their confident positioning at the front of my chest and when I began to lose breath I stopped. Needless to say, I had a natural spring in my step and made it to the store faster than I have on foot in years.

So there are three things that I have revealed about myself in my overdue return run to the blogosphere: (1) my too-often conscious run for the late train (2) my subconscious Sunday urge to run the block; and (3) oh, how I have missed The Underscore. Talk about endless possibilities to finding your greatness, run with them, those endless, endless possibilities.

The Cricketers Noir, Part3

My parade of cricket is – more often than not – rained upon by the most inconvenient elements of the game: piss poor play, closely drawn Test matches, bad media reports, and debaucherous claims. More recent rains on my parade, however, have been the wind of claims that being of black African race is a make-or- break factor in player selection. Now, poor play, draws, and bad behaviour are as generic as natural to any historically male sporting code. But I have never quite understood how race could sway the selector / administrator / coach to inhibit a good black African prospect the opportunity to play.

To put this in simple terms, mull over a scenario: Muzi is a cricketer, catchy player, and a key bowler in the senior leagues – a definite candidate for selection. He bats too (bottom middle order enough). And then there is Hector, the selector / administrator / coach / who gives Muzi a chance at play – twice on the field, twice on the bench and not for another few months at least. In between his amateur List 33.00 batting average, 4.00 bowling economy and prospective aspect, he is deemed unfit to continue play. Muzi never really gets a break beyond this level until he lands a corporate job or is ushered into the very role of cricket selector / administrator / coach. Ironic: easy to believe but difficult to make sense of.

 

What makes sense is the package that makes up a prime player: raw talent, manner, confidence, approach, and statistics. Not race, surely, as it would be imbecilic for anyone in a professional position to develop and advance a sporting structure to be going about it in such a narrow way? The abundant qualities that go into what it takes to make a prime black African cricketer are often more compound than raw talent, manner, confidence, approach, and statistics. We know this, right? So, that anyone vested in the game would act against this dynamic would be wrong. But I may very well be wrong.

 

When Tim May (resigned FICA Chief Executive Officer) eluded to the reality that ‘cricket increasingly seems to be pushing aside the principles of transparency, accountability, independence, and upholding the best interests of the global game, in favour of a system that appears to operate through threats, intimidation and backroom,’[1] I began to loosely associate that with the ideals of transformation in national cricket and slow (albeit sure) progress in this regard. Has the game become so non-transparent, unaccountable and dependable on the objectivity of cricket selectors / administrators / coaches that performance indicators favour frivolous subjective criteria … I wonder.

 

And whilst I remain wondering, I hope that the black African cricketer stays working on his nuanced package to make sure that he is counted in this competitive age. Unfortunately, cricket hinges itself on a player’s ability to stand out and be counted even if on a rainy day. Long-term economic investment in raw talent, confidence to unabashedly break away from the socio-historical shadows of a parochial gentleman’s game and statistics that back it all up would really look smart. It is then, perhaps, that (s)he can make an undisputed claim to a rightful place in a starting XI. Less rain over my cricket parade, please.


[1] Coverdale, Brydon. 2013, Frustrated Tim May quits FICA. 5 June 2013. ESPN Cricinfo: News Index. Available from: <http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/639114.html&gt;. [23 December 2013].

I went from zero, to my own hero

There has been a word that has stuck out at me without backing down (as much as I have tried to duck and dive from it): champion. The meaning of ‘champion’ has evaded me for a long time but it has become increasingly difficult not to embrace. Like a long-lost pastime sport, or the good feeling you wish you had and know you have been missing … so if – like me – you’ve had a challenging past few thousand and something hours, that is probably the very stuff that champions are made of and there is no backing down from it, nor ducking or diving. Just press play.

Is being a leading player not enough?

The running idea that Maria Sharapova will bulldoze the US Tennis Open with her candy line has turned me off like a winter power cut. This cannot possibly be serious?

Sharapova - Sugarpova (Flirty)

Is it not enough that the sanctity of sport has been threatened by technological innovation, maladministration and the voracious desire for absolute entertainment, at all costs? Scantily clad promotionettes, in-crowd commentary that ambushes live match experiences, ‘celebrities’ lifting historic trophies weeks before the winners do, digital adscrolls with sms-txt spelling, and the voyeurist undertones that kinesio-taping has developed – is it not enough?  Just for a second, imagine a tennis Grand Slam in all of its glory (already under threat by the abovementioned) now potentially cheap-thrilled by the third ranked female player in the world and the goods she is selling. Oh, is it not enough that women in sport already traverse hurdles to remain professionalism in an androcratic environment?  Were clever means of conventional marketing like ‘chew like a champ’ not enough?

Sharapova - SugarPova (Chew like a Champ)

 

Over the next six days there are two simple possibilities: either sports media has spun a catchy rumor on Maria Sugarpova’s extension of an individual brand cheekily for awareness purposes [1] not to actually be used during the US Tennis Open or this will turn out to be a real deal that is legally approved, signed, sealed and delivered to the world. But if real, surely, that would just be an ingenious approach serving little to the traditions of tennis and nature of athlete competition. Any Directorate who would consider passing this motion would be flirting with lowering Tournament rules and regulations and any player with the time to follow through on such moves off of court leaves one wondering as to whether it is enough to simply be a leading [2] player in a world-class game anymore; because it should be.

___________________

[1] Ask yourself, did you know that Sugarpova even existed? I did not. So think: upsurge in candy cravings, online clicks, buys and referrals, random searches linked to Maria Sharapova and baited breath awaiting official press release refuting or confirming details.

 

[2] Back to tennis and just off of the Western and Southern Cincinnati Open: if you are ‘only as good as your last game’ and Sharapova last lost to US native, Sloane Stevens, who then crumbled to Jelena Jankovic (and then having the whole tournament lost from Serena Williams to Victoria Azarenka) could the US Open look to a not-so-obvious comeback this year?

 

 

Winning is (not) everything

A few weeks ago I rescheduled a cricket commitment (for two hours later) an hour before it was to take place. I was reprimanded by someone who felt that the reschedule was unnecessary and as they let rip at me, I pursed my lips. This worsened the situation because, then, above and beyond being reprimanded for the reschedule, I was being rebuked for pursing my lips. The defence had a valid point: I dropped the ball on an obligation and, when questioned about it, pursed my lips during the confrontation which comes off as disrespectful to the direction of the whole situation.

So, I remained quiet as I literally and figuratively zipped my lips: disappointed that as capable and equipped as I was, I dropped the ball in the first place which then led to this whole confrontation which further led to a misinterpretation of my emotional expression. That same week, though, I came across this meme of Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney which did the rounds this-time-last-year during London2012. In hindsight, I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought that this is what those pursed lips must have looked like to the person reprimanding me:

 

Unimpressed McKayla Maroney meme

 

Maroney explained the demeanour behind the moment as:

“It’s more just a shock, I wasn’t focused on getting the gold medal. I wasn’t worried about that. I just wanted to prove to everybody that I could hit two vaults … And that’s what I’m disappointed about. I have just trained so hard and on this day it didn’t matter.”[1]

Perhaps next time, one should just not purse their lips at disappointment – it could be taken hilariously out of context, saddled with an ungrateful little bitchy caption.

McKayla Maroney Cholo-fied


[1] Wetzel, Dan. ‘Despite her fall, McKayla Maroney shows true grit and grace in winning her silver medal in vault.’ 05 August, 2012. http://yhoo.it/RG4K6W

Sofia 2013 – 57 days

Sofia 2013 22nd Deaflympics Logo

The anticipation of an international sporting tournament makes me feel like a kid looking forward to cotton candy. This anticipation of athleticism is topped off with an excitement that usually kicks-in a few weeks before the start of the competition (yes, I am simply zealous). I got that sweet feeling recently when I realized the countdown to Sofia 2013: the quadrennial Deaf Olympics on from 26 July 2013 – 4 August 2013 (dubbed ‘Deaflympics’).

The codes to be contested are: Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Bowling, Cycling, Football, Handball, Judo, Karate, Orienteering, Shooting, Swimming, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Tennis, Volleyball, Waterpolo and Wrestling. Primary qualification for the Deaflympics is limited to athletes with a hearing loss of equal or more than 55 decibels (db) in their ‘better ear.’ For a sense of this range, the bold areas below give a subjective description of various low-to-medium noise level environments [db(A)]:

Very noisy
100         Printing press room
95-100    Peak level passenger train at 200 km/h at 7,5 metres
Peak level passing freight train (diesel engine) at 100 km/h at 7,5 metres
85-100    Discotheque (indoor)
75-100    7,5 metres from passing motorcycle (50 km/h)
80           Kerbside of busy street

Noisy
70           Blaring radio
60-80      7,5 metres from passing passenger car (50 km/h)
60           Supermarket/busy office

Quiet
40            Library
35 – 45     Average suburban home
30            Average rural home (night-time)
25-30      Slight rustling of leaves

Very quiet
20           Background in professional recording studio
0-20        Experienced as complete quietness
0             Threshold of hearing at 1000 Hz

http://www.tshwane.gov.za/Services/EnvironmentalManagement/Noise%20Management%20Documents/NoiseAppendixA.pdf

 

Nothing shouts dedication more than passion for sport when expressed through the most unlikely channels and circumstance. Everyone has a story behind their sports story and those behind differently-abled sports are, almost without fail, nothing short of quintessential. The essence of sport (lost on the morally corrupt business of modern sport) can still be found in realms of expression like the deaf sport where the focus is tuned in against the clamour of the world. 

          International Committee of Sports for the Deaf President, Craig Cowley, looks forward to strategic visibility this season hereon. “It’s not until you question [the] Deaflympic movement [that] you can improve [the] ethos better – an inquisitive mind is requisite for athletes visibility. It is absolutely crucial [that the] Deaflympic Movement must keep being exploited in positive light even if we have minimum Deaflympic this summer.” And whilst we may not be able to enjoy its widespread coverage in mainstream media just yet, I encourage everyone to look equally forward to Sofia 2013 along with the number of initiatives that aim to uplift differently-abled sport in your city.

ASL Individual Team Sports ASL Competitive Team Sports

 

 

Mayday, SUFC, Mayday!

After their showing in this weekend’s 2013 Nedbank Cup Final, SuperSport United Football Club has my attention. It must be said that the attacking field did not play their role to its full potential. Fortunately, their defence was reliable enough to strike a balance with that reality.

SuperSport United Football Club

Picture a ship, sailing along the eye of a storm. SuperSport United reminds me of that ship and their form has been rather bothersome at times during the past season. Whilst there have been hundreds of minutes of positive play by matsatsantsa a Pitori smooth sailing only serves to keep afloat. And the team has kept afloat: far enough from relegation but far away from reaching glory. Spurts of brilliance marred by innocent madness. Moreover, other teams have played better when it mattered most.

Across the MTN8, Telkom KnockOut, Nedbank Cup and Premier Soccer League competitions, the first team has yielded marginal wins (14 out of 42), many draws (20 out of 28), and in losing their most recent flagship title have recorded only 8 defeats (all but one by single-goal margins). It is safe to expect better sailing from SUFC. Picture that ship, steering itself determinantly into the 2013/2014 soccer season.

The Cricketers Noir, Part2

 

Boeta Dippenaar made a compelling argument for the limited involvement of nationally contracted cricketers’ at franchise level:

“You would like to see international players playing domestic cricket, but do you really want to risk a player like Jacques Kallis or Dale Steyn? They are SA’s biggest assets and should not be risked at domestic level.”

Dippenaar believes the same principle dictates players’ paths to prominence at lower levels.

“Club cricket should be maintained from a social point of view, but there is no doubt that it is dead with regards to being a feeder to professional cricket.”[1]

As the reader, I recalled an interview of his circa 2008 which subsequently implored the need for the South African Cricketers Association (SACA) to clarify their stance on the transformational policy of the time: my first reaction was for Dippenaar to clarify his reference to club cricket. Whilst he was not necessarily taking a swipe at the format, I could not help but coordinate two stilts to stand on for part two of the cricketer’s noir: attitudes toward development channels and club cricket as a foundation for black African cricket.

Crossed Cricket Bats (black)

Black African clubs have a specific trait: historically, by geographical and spatial disadvantage, and currently, by virtue of their pressing need for technical adjustment and alignment with the other more advanced clubs. ‘There are 767 cricket clubs in South Africa. Of those, 167 are black African. That translates into 22.7%.’[2] Starting from the proverbial bottom, 167 black African clubs are a lot; enough – at least – to surf a wave of black African cricket talent. To be sure that the player profiles of these clubs are of pure black African composition is not exhaustive; similarly, the multi-racial composition of the remaining 600 cricket clubs should not be assumed. What is of importance is the fact that players and administrators under many of these clubs are still in a position in need of development, not just from a talent perspective, but also from an infrastructural, socio-economic, and moral gather.

In the quest for representivity within the black African demographic of the Proteas national squad, the fair fact that 79,5% of S.A’s male population is black African and the other 20,5% composed of Asian, mixed-race, and white South African males has become a redundantly obscure premise. At the back of my mind, I have always found the need to have a team resembling basic racial demographics at risk of being dismissive because, by implication, it would assume (1) the Department of Statistics South Africa as the ground-breaking sports-trend analysts (2) the budding attraction of cricket as a handsome playing field and (3) the highest development of black African cricket in post-Apartheid South Africa. Dismissal of the realities that face players and administrators alike would be – albeit unintentionally – fallacious.

The feeder system in sport is a nuanced one. Cricket stages can be broken down into junior and schools games, academy discipline, regional level, rookie engagement, franchise role and national duty. By lucky break, you could skip the academy disciplines or rookie engagement to still make the big leagues, but a player in gold-and-green typically goes through all of these paces. Of these channels, a familiar and ever-enduring base camp for initiation into elite competition is club cricket, with a clubhouse to which each of the channels is implicitly affiliated. The opinion that such a keystone of athlete development is some sort of play-play social weekend setup would be – albeit unintentionally – fallacious.

Even away from the black and white dichotomy, all clubs struggle the battle of resources, maladministration and commitment in leagues wherein the most fierce (and age-old) cricket competitions take place. The club stage as a ubiquitous channel throughout the career of any cricket professional makes it important and the need to ensure its longevity is even more vital.

Crossed Cricket Bats (black)

What I look to emphasise is the role of this particular stage in on-going athlete development and in the development of the black African cricketer. Dippenaar was most likely not looking to rip-off the club levels – this is the Players’ Representative of SACA, after all, who was once quoted as positively stating: “Cricket is only 30 per cent physical and 70 per cent mental. South Africans train 120 per cent physically.” Clarity, much?


[1] Telford Vice (28 April 2013) ‘CSA contracted player’s shouldn’t be involved with franchise cricket.’ Sowetan Sunday World. Retrieved: http://docs.google.com/document/d/1X4fd8e3yX13VZQl-aYg1Tyo52lht3GibZJUSPwAVSPE/edit?usp=sharing&pli=1

[2] Telford Vice (2013, March-May) ‘Glaring Absence.’ SA Cricket Magazine, Issue:119. p75.

Social Media Games

I would – typically – rather count strands of my hair than make reference to the personal lives of sports persons. But there is a compelling starting point in this reference:

Tiger Woods / Lindsay Vonn / someecard

I only warmed up to the idea of social networking long after high school having been a sucker for simplicity – letters, phone calls, and straight communication. I suppose those habits fell away with the last vestiges of green-screen mobile phones. Social media has become an Olympic sport and people are playing right along: marketing brand strategy, tracking competition, and taking all sorts of shots in the name of the game. And so, I partnered with Facebook, found commitment on Twitter, have a thing for LinkedIn, found mutual feelings on Pinterest and am recently separated from WhatsApp (but working things out).

 

The update

But there is a disadvantage to social networking found (not in the relationship but) in it was has been called the “status update.” The advent of the update has rendered no one ever short of something to say (good or bad) about someone, something, or somewhere. It has become the platform for a whole lot of goodness (think: petitions, social issue consciousness) but it has also doubled as a stage for the promotion of a bulk of garbage (think: chauvinist quips, shameless female self-degradation, and frankly, some of the worst spelling developed by the human race). Now take two sporting legends: one infamous golfing great and another troubled super skier, and coordinate a ‘statement’ released simultaneously regarding their budding relationship via social media status update. Legend, isn’t it? Well, kind of.

Indeed the way in which Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn announced their association is akin to the PR engines of many sports people, though, reaching a social network in a virtual instance has done little much to grant them anything more than anyone is willing to give  (think: the goodness versus garbage dichotomy). There is a meme doing the rounds with a man in a life-size bubble being bounced in the air by a sea of people underneath, which read:

‘SOCIAL MEDIA IS A BEHAVIOR, NOT A DEPARTMENT.’

As convenient a form of expression that instant communication has become, how you conduct yourself via these mediums is a reflection of yourself, as are the plays you make. In this particular game, however, there are very few rules after the fact that Woods and Vonn have defintely blown the official whistle.

________________

World Wide Worx and Fuseware (along with TNS Research Surveys and Professional Evaluation and Research) summarily found that in South Africa:[1]

  • Both Facebook and Twitter have grown at a similar rate, at around 100 000 new users a month, for the past year.
  • LinkedIn has grown substantially, but at a slightly lower rate, to reach 1,93-million South Africans.
  • Pinterest is the fledgling among the major social networks, with only 150 000 users in South Africa.
  • *WhatsApp has become the leading instant messaging tool among South Africans aged 16 and over, living in cities and towns, with a user base of 4,6-million.
  • The youngest mobile instant messaging tool to emerge on the measurement radar in South Africa, 2Go, has close to a million adult users.
  • The most common “Check In” sites for Facebook in South Africa are airports and shopping malls.
  • The biggest tweeting day of the week is a Monday, with an average of 9,6-million tweets sent by South Africans on the first working day of the week. Friday is next, with 9.6-million, while Saturday is the slowest Twitter day, with 8,4-million tweets.
  • Both Facebook and Twitter have crossed the urban/rural divide. The proportion of urban adults using Facebook is a little less than double rural users – but rural users are now at the level where urban users were 18 months ago. Twitter’s urban penetration is a little more than double its rural penetration, but the rural proportion has also caught up to where the urban proportion was 18 months ago.

When Federer met the Tsonga

In what has undoubtedly been an emotional week for many vested in the energy of South African sport, I was kindly heartened by World Number 2 tennis champion Roger Federer’s visit to Hlukani and Govhu preschools in Limpopo. Perhaps, as more recently deprived of brimming South African athlete endorsement, it was nice to see Federer enjoy Tsonga company (and I don’t mean the French player).

RFF510   RFF816RFF196RFF8171302_rff_138RFF954

Narratives of sport are always charmed with stories of interactions of cultures, especially where educational development is concernced. From my own subjective experience, I’ve found the perception of the Tsonga tribe to be a polarising one. You either have alot of something good to say or some misguided things that are not always so good to say. Similarly, you either regard Federer as someone whom you like or dislike – he may be your on-court legend, or a man with a head flick and aloof fist-pump that tends to distract you from all of that brilliance.

Whichever side you subscribe to, the reach of the Roger Federer Foundation is commendable and the photographs and video clips being circulated just make you want to embrace the Tsonga culture and fist-pump:

The Official: JvW Girls Football Development

When I quickly scan the football field, I catch a view of a team of girls encouraging one another to get the ball, pass the ball, and play the ball. Modder Sport Club, east of Johannesburg, reignited its soccer element this past weekend and here was not only a showcase of the men’s game: the team of girls on the field are from the JvW Girls Football Development Programme. Pioneered in early 2012, the Gauteng-based training initiative offers opportunities for young women to learn the skills and wills necessary to break into regional football league competition.

The Underscore caught up with the namesake of the Girls Football Development Programme, South African national women’s defender and reigning Ekurhuleni Sportswoman of the Year, Janine van Wyk:

_Describe the JvW Girls Football Development Programme in – at least – 5 words:
JvW: The Programme opens doors for girls by offering a development structure wherein they can gain exposure to local football and take the opportunity to live their dreams and be whom they want to be.

_Elaborate more on the structure of the Programme?
JvW: The Programme is built of a main group of girls who train together with the juniors training separately in order to develop their different set of skills. As the groups grow larger, they are broken into 3 sets: the beginners group for those still wanting to learn more about the game, the intermediate group where the drills are a bit harder and more of the fitness component comes in, and the advanced group who show progressive ability in the game.

_The channels of access to information to ladies club football training is not always clear. What have you found to be some of the challenges faced by females in a historically male-dominated industry?
JvW: The game is becoming a level playing field. Fortunately, there is a growing interest in women’s football – people are now watching the televised matches and people are getting to know the game better as both females and males playing the sport. There needs to be an added emphasis on developing young ones into the game all the way into Long-Term Athlete Development. The growing turnout for the JvW Girls Football Development Programme shows the positive interest of a lot of girls and their parents who may have otherwise not have known where to go.

_As evident in the day’s atmosphere, there is a genuine team spirit at play within the JvW camp. How do you motivate the athletes you encounter at their best and / or worst of form?
JvW: The girls all get along well, gel well, and they all have one thing in common which is football. Girls are sensitive (invariably, as are boys), so when a player does something wrong, you encourage the player to do better. They are here because they want to better themselves and are training in order to better themselves. If you make mistakes – and you may make a million mistakes – there will be at least one thing that you do right, one achievement taken step by step. Group and one-on-one sessions build that confidence in the athlete and it is important to have a good relationship with whomever you are working with in order to make it successful.

_As a professional player, you manage to make time in your demanding schedule to give back to (and including) local development areas and to coach for the Programme. Do you follow a particular philosophy in how you share your game of football?
JvW: I always find a way of just doing football – football is my life! I am passionate about the game and want others to feel the same and I am willing to give of my time to help other girls get to where they want to be having come from a similar junior, amateur position like them once before. I also generalize about life from football – the character-building traits and lessons learnt in sport can be used as life principles.

_If you weren’t in your current career field, which career path would Janine Van Wyk have otherwise pursued?
JvW: Music inspires me; if you need to get out there, to train hard, or something to just motivate you, you can relate to music. Anything with a good beat – music is another part of my life [cue: DJ Vetkuk vs. Mahoota ft. Dr. Malinga ♫ Via Orlando]

Janine van Wyk’s unassuming nature and level-minded style coupled with her role at the fore of the advancement of female football make her a star player-coach. The same can be said for the stars of the JvW Girls Football Development Programme which has given power and passion to aspirant female football players to keep talking with their feet and playing with their hearts

Raising the ranks

I was happy to see Kevin Anderson be the first South African in a decade to make the furthest cut in the Australian Open. If this week was the first time you have heard of Kevin Anderson, well (a bit late but better than never), I am glad for you as well.

Beyond the fact that he is South African by blood One can be proud of Anderson for the fact that he is a man who has been on the circuit with fervent determination has played better and better as he has progressed. He moved up the ranks humbly and most recently, unassumedly:

Player Stats as of: 14.01.2013

Date Singles Doubles
14.01.2013 31 91
07.01.2013 36 91
31.12.2012 37 91
24.12.2012 37 91
17.12.2012 37 91
10.12.2012 37 91
03.12.2012 37 91
26.11.2012 37 91
19.11.2012 37 91
12.11.2012 36 89
05.11.2012 36 89
29.10.2012 39 75
22.10.2012 39 81
15.10.2012 38 86
08.10.2012 38 91
01.10.2012 36 94
24.09.2012 35 96
17.09.2012 35 93
10.09.2012 37 93
27.08.2012 34 93
20.08.2012 35 94
13.08.2012 34 94
06.08.2012 32 92
30.07.2012 34 144
23.07.2012 33 143
16.07.2012 33 156
09.07.2012 33 153
02.07.2012 126
25.06.2012 31 126
18.06.2012 30 126
11.06.2012 30 125
28.05.2012 34 119
21.05.2012 34 119
14.05.2012 35 119
07.05.2012 35 119
30.04.2012 31 120
23.04.2012 32 110
16.04.2012 32 92
09.04.2012 33 98
02.04.2012 33 97
19.03.2012 28 113
05.03.2012 30 111
27.02.2012 36 108
20.02.2012 36 110
13.02.2012 35 108
06.02.2012 37 110
30.01.2012 30 107
16.01.2012 32 107
09.01.2012 32 109
02.01.2012 32 110
26.12.2011 32 110
19.12.2011 32 110
12.12.2011 32 110
05.12.2011 32 110
28.11.2011 32 110
21.11.2011 32 110
14.11.2011 32 109
07.11.2011 33 112
31.10.2011 30 147
24.10.2011 32 145
17.10.2011 31 147
10.10.2011 30 146
03.10.2011 31 150
26.09.2011 32 151
19.09.2011 33 149
12.09.2011 34 152
29.08.2011 34 126
22.08.2011 34 128
15.08.2011 35 125
08.08.2011 35 122
01.08.2011 37 120
25.07.2011 35 123
18.07.2011 34 113
11.07.2011 35 113
04.07.2011 35 114
20.06.2011 36 153
13.06.2011 38 153
06.06.2011 39 169
23.05.2011 35 162
16.05.2011 35 163
09.05.2011 34 161
02.05.2011 35 162
25.04.2011 34 179
18.04.2011 35 213
11.04.2011 33 217
04.04.2011 33 216
21.03.2011 40 210
07.03.2011 40 212
28.02.2011 39 211
21.02.2011 40 209
14.02.2011 40 376
07.02.2011 40 376
31.01.2011 59 377
17.01.2011 56 276
10.01.2011 56 278
03.01.2011 61 259
27.12.2010 61 259
20.12.2010 61 259
13.12.2010 61 260
06.12.2010 61 260
29.11.2010 61 259
22.11.2010 62 260
15.11.2010 62 261
08.11.2010 62 259
01.11.2010 60 237
25.10.2010 58 237
18.10.2010 63 227
11.10.2010 64 197
04.10.2010 66 196
27.09.2010 64 196
20.09.2010 64 195
13.09.2010 65 182
06.09.2010 77 236
30.08.2010 77 236
23.08.2010 77 234
16.08.2010 76 233
09.08.2010 87 217
02.08.2010 84 171
26.07.2010 80 173
19.07.2010 96 167
12.07.2010 97 167
05.07.2010 97 166
21.06.2010 95 155
14.06.2010 94 155
07.06.2010 95 155
24.05.2010 93 155
17.05.2010 93 156
10.05.2010 97 159
03.05.2010 88 160
26.04.2010 88 152
19.04.2010 85 148
12.04.2010 103 150
05.04.2010 108 152
22.03.2010 114 148
08.03.2010 127 148
01.03.2010 130 147
22.02.2010 133 146
15.02.2010 136 147
08.02.2010 133 150
01.02.2010 133 149
18.01.2010 148 164
11.01.2010 147 164
04.01.2010 161 171
28.12.2009 161 171
21.12.2009 161 171
14.12.2009 162 171
07.12.2009 162 171
30.11.2009 163 174
23.11.2009 166 179
16.11.2009 158 138
09.11.2009 125 139
02.11.2009 120 141
26.10.2009 123 134
19.10.2009 125 142
12.10.2009 130 146
05.10.2009 128 146
28.09.2009 132 153
21.09.2009 135 158
14.09.2009 137 165
31.08.2009 148 157
24.08.2009 148 157
17.08.2009 149 157
10.08.2009 149 168
03.08.2009 151 215
27.07.2009 157 219
20.07.2009 156 271
13.07.2009 160 282
06.07.2009 156 242
22.06.2009 157 114
15.06.2009 157 115
08.06.2009 163 114
25.05.2009 146 116
18.05.2009 147 116
11.05.2009 149 122
04.05.2009 169 124
27.04.2009 172 135
20.04.2009 171 141
13.04.2009 159 140
06.04.2009 158 138
23.03.2009 140 139
09.03.2009 141 134
02.03.2009 108 133
23.02.2009 103 138
16.02.2009 102 139
09.02.2009 105 140
02.02.2009 106 137
19.01.2009 108 139
12.01.2009 108 139
05.01.2009 108 139
29.12.2008 104 142
22.12.2008 104 142
15.12.2008 104 142
08.12.2008 104 142
01.12.2008 104 143
24.11.2008 104 144
17.11.2008 106 156
10.11.2008 120 154
03.11.2008 122 158
27.10.2008 126 162
20.10.2008 124 169
13.10.2008 121 182
06.10.2008 120 176
29.09.2008 119 175
22.09.2008 118 169
15.09.2008 119 171
08.09.2008 103 156
25.08.2008 104 162
18.08.2008 100 160
11.08.2008 110 162
04.08.2008 109 164
28.07.2008 117 159
21.07.2008 115 158
14.07.2008 112 162
07.07.2008 115 174
23.06.2008 98 383
16.06.2008 96 380
09.06.2008 95 381
26.05.2008 101 374
19.05.2008 100 375
12.05.2008 100 370
05.05.2008 102 372
28.04.2008 101 377
21.04.2008 102 375
14.04.2008 107 375
07.04.2008 110 377
24.03.2008 122 387
10.03.2008 121 391
03.03.2008 175 383
25.02.2008 179 384
18.02.2008 179 386
11.02.2008 188 385
04.02.2008 192 392
28.01.2008 190 396
14.01.2008 208 395
07.01.2008 208 396
31.12.2007 221 398
24.12.2007 221 398
17.12.2007 221 397
10.12.2007 221 397
03.12.2007 220 395
26.11.2007 218 396
19.11.2007 228 441
12.11.2007 218 439
05.11.2007 215 438
29.10.2007 215 439
22.10.2007 211 436
15.10.2007 222 430
08.10.2007 227 431
01.10.2007 228 429
24.09.2007 231 459
17.09.2007 232 463
10.09.2007 330 849T
27.08.2007 334 843T
20.08.2007 346 843T
13.08.2007 326 838T
06.08.2007 316 839T
30.07.2007 321 841T
23.07.2007 317 667
16.07.2007 310 641
09.07.2007 310 649
25.06.2007 419 690
18.06.2007 474 578
11.06.2007 471 577
28.05.2007 507 527
21.05.2007 503 524
14.05.2007 503 518
07.05.2007 503 513
30.04.2007 503 517
23.04.2007 509 522
16.04.2007 511 524
09.04.2007 511 523
02.04.2007 511 525
19.03.2007 513 530
05.03.2007 514 527
26.02.2007 517 528
19.02.2007 518 525
12.02.2007 519 528
05.02.2007 517 527
29.01.2007 516 530
15.01.2007 516 530
08.01.2007 516 530
01.01.2007 517 529
18.12.2006 517 530
11.12.2006 516 530
04.12.2006 516 531
27.11.2006 513 528
20.11.2006 513 527
13.11.2006 547 516
06.11.2006 567 516
30.10.2006 575 519
23.10.2006 576 527
16.10.2006 582 526
09.10.2006 580 528
02.10.2006 576 534
25.09.2006 572 532
18.09.2006 573 530
11.09.2006 570 523
28.08.2006 573 526
21.08.2006 574 529
14.08.2006 597 530
07.08.2006 598 528
31.07.2006 600 531
24.07.2006 645 636
17.07.2006 655 660T
10.07.2006 651 657T
26.06.2006 772 797
19.06.2006 761 1,015T
12.06.2006 765 1,015T
29.05.2006 773 1,487T
22.05.2006 757 1,477T
15.05.2006 772 1,486T
08.05.2006 773 1,488T
01.05.2006 771 1,487T
24.04.2006 767 1,485T
17.04.2006 770 1,486T
10.04.2006 769 1,484T
03.04.2006 769 1,482T
20.03.2006 764 1,472T
06.03.2006 752 1,455T
27.02.2006 750 1,456T
20.02.2006 758 1,457T
13.02.2006 761 1,453T
06.02.2006 760 1,458T
30.01.2006 760 1,462T
16.01.2006 765 1,460T
09.01.2006 764 1,462T
02.01.2006 766 1,463T
26.12.2005 766 1,463T
19.12.2005 766 1,463T
12.12.2005 767 1,473T
05.12.2005 708 1,459T
28.11.2005 630 1,436T
21.11.2005 548 1,005T
14.11.2005 611 1,098T
07.11.2005 609 1,093T
31.10.2005 609 1,098T
24.10.2005 608 1,097T
17.10.2005 608 1,100T
10.10.2005 609 1,104T
03.10.2005 603 1,096T
26.09.2005 602 1,096T
19.09.2005 603 1,085T
12.09.2005 602 1,083T
29.08.2005 602 1,080T
22.08.2005 589 1,072T
15.08.2005 626 1,073T
08.08.2005 637 1,077T
01.08.2005 637 1,071T
25.07.2005 632 1,066T
18.07.2005 650 1,077T
11.07.2005 652 1,075T
04.07.2005 652 1,081T
20.06.2005 683 1,080T
13.06.2005 683 1,076T
06.06.2005 682 1,082T
23.05.2005 676 1,074T
16.05.2005 675 1,072T
09.05.2005 679 1,077T
02.05.2005 682 1,082T
25.04.2005 676 1,079T
18.04.2005 675 1,082T
11.04.2005 672 1,083T
04.04.2005 669 1,081T
21.03.2005 666 1,090T
07.03.2005 669 1,100T
28.02.2005 671 1,099T
21.02.2005 668 1,098T
14.02.2005 664 1,095T
07.02.2005 658 1,084T
31.01.2005 663 1,081T
17.01.2005 662 1,079T
10.01.2005 662 1,081T
20.12.2004 665 1,085T
13.12.2004 662 1,078T
06.12.2004 710 1,100T
29.11.2004 769 769
22.11.2004 1,175T 947T
15.11.2004 1,157T 938T
08.11.2004 1,156T 935T
01.11.2004 1,155T 943T
25.10.2004 1,148T 941T
18.10.2004 1,142T 931T
11.10.2004 1,138T 917T
04.10.2004 1,138T 910T
27.09.2004 1,145T 913T
20.09.2004 1,149T 922T
13.09.2004 1,149T 934T
30.08.2004 1,178T 945T
23.08.2004 1,166T 937T
16.08.2004 1,163T 933T
09.08.2004 1,169T 917T
02.08.2004 1,182T 919T
26.07.2004 1,188T 917T
19.07.2004 1,189T 914T
12.07.2004 1,191T 918T
05.07.2004 1,189T 914T
21.06.2004 1,171T 902T
14.06.2004 1,174T 913T
07.06.2004 1,171T 909T
24.05.2004 1,162T 917T
17.05.2004 1,158T 913T
10.05.2004 1,159T 912T
03.05.2004 1,156T 906T
26.04.2004 1,166T 908T
19.04.2004 1,164T 906T
12.04.2004 1,167T 912T
05.04.2004 1,166T 920T
22.03.2004 1,163T 909T
08.03.2004 1,162T 897T
01.03.2004 1,167T 893T
23.02.2004 1,166T 897T
16.02.2004 1,171T 901T
09.02.2004 1,169T 898T
02.02.2004 1,170T 894T
19.01.2004 1,177T 907T
12.01.2004 1,177T 905T
15.12.2003 1,179T 902T
08.12.2003 1,178T 903T

http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Top-Players/Kevin-Anderson.aspx?t=rh

The Cricketers Noir, Part1

Two gems in one of Telford Vice’s Sunday columns ago got me thinking: the first being that if you’re a cricketer, black, experienced or over 20, deem yourself in the peripheral ranks of selective consideration. The second being, that cricketers in this periphery of selection are exiled to a sense of ‘keep calm and find another career’ in the meantime.

 

What’s the basis?

The ‘black tax’ adage that black Africans have to work twice as hard as their Caucasian, Indian, and mixed-raced African counterparts is not false. The idea that an alternative race could serve a black African cricketer any better in the new democratic South Africa is awkward to think about and more than an issue of color composition. I am beginning to feel that the plaintiff petition around the overdue selection of black cricketers is fair but fairly misplaced and that it constitutes a fallacy insofar as the attention we pay to the production-line of black African cricketing talent in South Africa.

 

It would be accurate to state that all those up for selective consideration are (more often than not) products of the junior, schools and senior cricket systems in South Africa. In other words, South Africa surely has black cricketers performing consistently at its myriad of amateur levels, whom – as with all cricketers performing consistently at the myriad of amateur levels – need to be given the old college try. They don’t usually get those opportunities though.

 

Because we are not millions of Andrew Hudson’s, I want to move away from the opportunities for black Africans at national level where I have observed the most recent hoopla to be centred. Frankly, South Africa’s cricket system trips over itself where the development of black African players is concerned and I am not talking about the eager-eyed attendees registered in droves for Mini-Cricket Festivals, I am talking about everyone in between and then some: those 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 year olds progressively overlooked and snubbed more often than the Sunday Times can publish a headline. It’s like a clog in a system – the kind like a hair ball in a drain and the subsequent chain of events.

Cricket Ball P1

Keep calm – it is what it is

So why do we stand at point with our hands over our heads as if we dropped a good catch when black cricketers are given less time to prove themselves as national warriors than they are as national human shields? Ironically, ‘keep calm and find another career’ is the resounding sentiment across provincial cricket associations where the black masses of ex-cricketers, stifled-cricketers, and untapped talent is capitalised on by an administrative bourgeoisie. Everyone in between and then some are found foot soldiering the development of cricket from grassroots level, usually in the regions of “area” cricket.

 

There is nothing wrong with that, in fact, it is wonderful that one career (underdeveloped) can flow so easily into another (that develops). But there is something upside-down about it, that gets me back to that clog in the circuit. And the maladies of developing black African cricket in the country. End, Part 1.