Category Archives: Sport

Why ? English Premier League & FPL

                    

Do you agree that football is one of the most popular games worldwide?

And which League is the best ?

My interest began about 8 years ago, when I was aquainted with youth who were great lovers of football. So I wisely began following some teams at the top of the English Premier League , i.e. Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal. Sometime later I was told by a young Man United fan, “seriously you should follow only 1 instead of 4 teams, its not fair to back so many teams .” ( As one of these could be serious contenders to Man United which was one of the best teams at that time). So that was the time I decided to follow Liverpool.

Their theme song ‘ You will never walk alone’ always inspired me .  However Liverpool did not fare very well , and most often was in the top 5 or at times even lower in position on the table.

Many of my acquaintances joked with me, “  your team will be walking alone”    at the bottom of the league.  I know and I’m sure most Liverpool fans will agree, that the resilience of the team and the perseverance  to ‘never give up’, has been a significant part of the character of the team members.

 Even though   Liverpool slowly   improved in their position since the past few years, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020, have been a revelation. They were remarkable in their victory at the UEFA Champions League in 2019 and that same year in the EPL ,  ManCity won with just 1 point away from runnersup Liverpool .

Liverpool also won the Nations Club World Cup in 2019 .  

This  year 2020 was    even better, when they ran away with a margin of 25 points from second placed ManCity.  To think that no team on the EPL can overtake them , is enough to consider them as Champions of the English Premier League. It will surely be cruel to see nobody being given the Cup, because of non-completion of the remaining  match fixtures. This is   a delicate matter, mainly due to the  last 3 teams who are fighting to avoid relegation.  I hope wisdom prevails to resolve this matter.

Now I will share a bit of my involvement with the FPL ( Fantasy Premier League). I had never understood how the points system worked with the selection of a team. Thanks to one of the young men Wendell, I learnt the ropes to form the team ‘Challengers’ this year. The previous years team was formed too late after the season had started so I was way down in the league table.

This year my team ‘Challengers’ did quite well to  lead in two  private leagues 1) GenSYS league table and 2) Londinium . In both tables my team’s  current   Postion is no. 1 . This came about with some constant watch and study of good players from the different teams. Many factors come into play, whether its a home match,   form of the players, formation whether defence or attack oriented,  and making transfers  to get the best team. This foray into the FPL led me to watch even more matches in the EPL , as   it gave me insights into the best football players from the other teams.

I am not surprised to see guys  , getting their teams ready before the Friday deadline for team selection.This can be to the annoyance of others who are not involved, ānd  find that enthusiasm difficult to digest.

In conclusion , I am overjoyed to see my team Liverpool on top of the English Premier League table and my team ‘Challengers’ also top the private leagues of the FPL that I have participated in.

I hope that the Corona virus pandemic will end in the coming months, and we will appreciate coming back to our normal lives. ….which will also include sports …and football….and the EPL.         

In the meantime, we

STAY SAFE, STAY HEALTHY AND BE POSITIVE.

WE CAN TRUST ALMIGHTY  GOD AT THIS TIME!

AT THE END OF THE ROAD IS A GOLDEN SKY

AND THE SWEET SILVER SONG OF THE LARK……..so walk on , walk on , with hope in your hearts.         

Tennis Courts and Dreams

My love for tennis, goes back to more than 25 years ago. I remember playing the game with my eldest brother Allwyn at the Catholic Gymkhana. We enjoyed a good set and developed reasonable skills to play in the member’s tournaments and even represent the Gymkhana at a local tournament.

However as  the years went by, and our tennis too ended. Among many reasons was the  closure of the courts at the Gymkhana

I remember purchasing a book on learning the nuances of tennis and had passed on some of these tips in coaching my son Ralph when he was 8years old. Many things were discarded during my house repairs some time ago. This book however remained with me purely out of a dream of playing tennis again.

The year 2019 was very eventful when I was diagnosed with cancer. I recovered with treatment and in August departed on a 3 month holiday with Anjean. This holiday was a gift from our 4 children and covered Dubai, London, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

My dream of playing tennis again began in Dubai,  with  the Saldanha brothers . Ian my son in law was very considerate in arranging  tennis sessions with his brother  Colin and his father in law Alex.

Our first session was at  Alex’s courts and the next at Colin’s courts. Ian and I played some good tennis , but with Colin  on the other side and his fast serves ….we  lost closely.

The second session was even better  . I was quite adept at placements ; we still lost…with a tough fight. Ian and I shared a ‘never give up attitude’ .We ended with some cold beers and relaxed time with Colin’s piano accompaniment to our spontaneous songs

My next visit to a tennis court  was at Glasgow. This just  happened when I casually mentioned to a friend John Jackson  over coffee, about my interest in tennis. He later spoke  to  John Coyle a lover of tennis himself, who  arranged for us to  play some good  tennis ‘doubles’ with regular members. I played fairly well, losing the first set , and then winning the next two sets, rotating our  partners.

The second session was  the following week and happened to be a tournament. This proved a challenge for me. The tournament was played on a  round robin basis of doubles . About 20 members many regular and established tennis players  teamed randomly and  points were awarded according to the games  a person won. Thankfully I was given a handicap with whoever teamed with me. My game improved a  bit and I was surprised that I could get some good volleys, cross court shots, and deft placements. To top it all, I got some good serves down the T . There was a winner and  runnersup, but for me , the best souvenir was the group picture at the end of the mini tournament.

My final encounter with tennis courts was at tḥe Bombay Gymkhana. Courtesy Kirk D’Cruz a good friend , with whom I reconnected. He was gracious to host me for a couple of sessions at the Gym. We got into the rythm quite fast and were soon stroking the ball well. I was surprised that we could actually play singles and enjoy it, The second time we went for a session, I struck the ball so hard that the strings of my aging racket snapped . This was adequately compensated when Ian , my son-in-law gifted me an excellent Wilson racket on his visit to Mumbai.

Ralph joined us at the most recent session of tennis at the Bombay Gym on his visit from UK. He too had not played the game since the age of 8 years . When he got on court , I was stunned to see him hit the ball so well with tḥe correct style . He enjoyed the session a lot . From the sidelines I just admired his game, as he practised with Kirk and both had some power packed ground strokes.

We never got a repeat of these sessions , as Ralph soon returned to UK.

 My fascination with tennis began in school, when I had not yet learnt to hold a racket. But I read every tennis article in the sports page from start to finish. One of my brothers even enquired , how and why I did that.  Famous names of those days were Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Margaret Smith, and later,Bjorn Borg, Stefan Edberg, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker.. and some more like Cliff Drysdale, Mats Wilander , Steffi Graff. We cannot forget Nadal and Djokovic !

 As I end this note on  tennis, I must also mention some books I’ve read on tennis players. Rod Laver’s ‘An Autobiography’…I always admired him the way he carried himself, with  a quiet dignity and confidence, but a rocket on court,  Andre Agassi’s , ’OPEN: An Autography ‘  he was very candid about his love and hate for tennis, Roger Federer’s ‘Biography’ by  Chris Bowers, ( wonder when he will write his autobiography) , and finally Arthur Ashe’s ‘Days of Grace’ . the last was the most inspiring for  the way he handled his  unfortunate Aids  infection through blood transfusion  at the time of his heart surgery .

I liked his famous quote …..If I were to say,” God, why me? About the bad things,” then I should have said ,”God, why me?” about the good things that happened in my life. …

This helps me to reflect on the numerous blessings God has blessed me with, since all these years, despite my recent challenges.

Thank you Lord , for all these , even, for the  dreams of tennis, being fulfilled.

Anfield , Alone ?

A visit to the Home of the Liverpool Football club was high on my bucket list . I was so keen, that each time we planned for this visit and it was postponed, I began to think that it just would not happen .

However my son Ralph and son-in-law Tommy , ensured that we would drive down from Glasgow on 30th September, 31/2 hours each way .. so grateful for their kindness.

Lloyd an avid football fan joined us at the last moment , after some gentle persuasion , knowing his affiliation was elsewhere .

We left before sunrise . My grandson Samuel jumped out of bed when he heard the word ‘Liverpool ‘ . He is all of 5 yrs and proudly donned the red colours of the team. We had a quick cup of coffee and packed some home made ‘Paozinhas ‘ and Cookies

The drive began with an ‘all guys‘ group, having been given due consideration by the ladies at home . The clouds and mist seemed to hang over as we drove on. But soon the sun peeked through the clouds to show us the beautiful sceneries of Scotland.

We stopped for coffee ,hot chocolate and light breakfast.

The drive became interesting with Samuel’s favorite game in the car ‘I spy with my little eye’ .

It was a cool drive for 31/2 hours . The sign boards flashed by and soon we saw ‘Liverpool’ appearing . I was palpably excited when Tommy got the song ‘ You will Never Walk Alone’ on the car sound system .

We finally reached the gates of the stadium . Yes it was thrilling to see the words ‘You will Never Walk Alone’ at the top of the gate, where. Samuel and I posed for a picture .

We then entered for a tour of stadium …. with a group comprising mainly fans of the Liverpool football team .

The club has a lot of history . It started from humble beginnings and is a club quite devoted to its fans .

The guide asks “Don’t you think that this is the best time to become a Liverpool supporter ? They are the European champions and currently number one on the English Premier League Table”

They respect sentiments of different faiths specially having Sadio Mane and Salah in the team …

Besides the spectator stand is very near the football pitch . One can view the players in action, and either encourage or pass comments depending on which team you support.

We had pics taken near the cutouts of the players and the team colours . Then we stepped out for a pic near the statue of Bill Shankly one of the earliest managers of the Liverpool club ……

Hold on it’s not over yet ; the biggest surprise awaited us as a black ‘Range Rover’with tinted glasses, drove into the gates. “I’m sure that is a Liverpool player. Could that be Firmino ? “ conjectured Lloyd. “ No it’s Andy Robertson “ said Tommy , as Andy came out of his car to let the security check it.

This was the opportunity for us to pose with him for pictures .

Samuel was speechless as he posed with Andy for a photograph. . A few young ladies too were quick to seize their opportunity. Andy was very obliging , but was gone before the rest of us could decide .

We visited Merseyside …where the the Beatles first performed . But I was a bit disappointed after the high of Anfield.

Our visit to Liverpool ended with with burgers and beer

I’m sure Liverpool has captured some more fans . So ‘yes’ we were together and not alone to enjoy the song ‘You Will Never Walk Alone ‘ the theme song for the Liverpool team….and one to inspire all with its words .

Does the Winner take it all

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Mikael was on par with the best golfers in the circuit…However he never seemed to win any trophies. He was quiet and dedicated and sought to improve at every stage. He kept fit and did his best to play well and improve.

During his time he had a few top golfers who kept winning in turns the various big tournaments.

Alfred was steady and focused and most often came away with the top spot.

Dean was more flamboyant and knew that he possessed the skills which could beat anyone on his good day.

But Mikael was the one to watch. He practiced 24×7 and wished to make a mark in life.

He had tremendous faith in God. He kept fit in simple ways and was disciplined in his time.

He gave the best part of his day to the Lord in the morning .

Alfred once asked him” Hey Mike, why do you come in late morning for your practice?”

And Mikael quietly replied” Well,  I give myself to the Lord first, as all I am and have is from Him”

The other guys listening were amazed , and Dean chipped in “ but how come you don’t win anything Mike.”  To which Mike’s simple answer was   “ in His time he makes all things beautiful”

The Indian Open was fast approaching. Preparations were on. The best golfers were expected.

They all were focused on their training and diets.

Mikael kept to his morning quiet time , and then turned to his practice and other preparations.

On the big day, he was calm and confident. Whereas Alfred and Dean were in their zones of anticipation. Alfred totally serious . Dean appearing nonchalant .

They started on their rounds. Halfway through one sees Alfred beginning to get fatigued. The tension increases. He swings and it comes on too firmly.. He whispers to Mikael “ I don’t understand , what is happening . My strokes are getting messed up.” Mikael calms him down “ Relax, you have the strokes to play better” and prays quietly for Alfred, ” Lord, help him to recover his poise. “ Next moment Alfred delivers the best stroke and goes on to get a very good average.

Next we see Dean taking his stance . Overconfident as usual he starts off well and within a few moments loses his composure when his caddy trips behind him.” Hey what’s wrong with you; you have just ruined my concentration” Thereafter Dean makes a mess of his rounds and is way behind in the final tally.

Mikael however goes about his rounds with great dedication. He is silent, confident, and at peace. He seems to enjoy his game.  His days of preparation and discipline show on the course. He gave his best. But still Alfred wins the Cup.  Mikael is runnersup

Did Mikael lose? Ask Alfred. He says” I owe my victory to Mikael . His quiet words of encouragement gave me so much confidence at the time I was playing poorly.”

Mikael smiled and said “ We are all winners when we play our best… Even though only one wins the cup. How we approach the game is important. After all its not life and death. May we all rise above winning and losing, and really enjoy the game.”

Does the winner take it all??

The Feint of a Footballer

The feint of a footballer

Who is the new boy? A puny little chap. He personifies littleness. The group of other boys his age, all admire him and like to play in his team. He is unselfish. His skill with the ball is so good. The ball  sticks to his boots like a magnet. He swerves and feints towards the goal. He cannot be stopped , even with rough tackles. His strength is to keep on playing with the ball, and develop his skills even more.

The group gets left behind, with all his sprightliness. They may be taller, but cannot match his skills. He can grab a ball from another’s feet. He has developed a lot of immunity to rough tackles and very often gets hurt so badly, that one would think he would retire.

The finals are about to commence. The latest strategy is to ensure that he is not allowed to touch the ball. So the entire opposing team, keeps a close watch on Luigi. The moment the ball seems to go to Luigi , we find about 3-4 players surrounding him to snatch the ball away.

What is Luigi’s response. At first he is surprised at this new manoevre. But soon he catches on.

He then ducks, and swerves and wriggles out of the scramble , to dash away with the ball. They all set up a chase , but cannot match his speed with the ball. He approaches the goal post and then unleashes a tremendous shot , which ensures that his team , get a goal.

The game restarts after this, but again the strategy is put into play. Again the ploy fails.

Final score reads 5-0

The end of the game shows that skill  beats stategy, and strategy works when it combines with skill. Lets hope that more good players will show up with an improved display of skill and strategy.

Note: this little story is dedicated to one of the best footballers of our time; I leave it to you, the reader to guess???