Matshediso Bakang Ebudilwe is fulfilling a dream.

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Each stroke of the pedals brings mountain biker Matshediso Bakang Ebudilwe closer to realising her dream.

Her ultimate goal is to manage a professional women’s cycling team, and the determined cyclist from Botswana has already taken the first steps to achieving that dream. Baks, as she is known to her friends, became the first Motswana (citizen of Botswana) to represent the African country at a UCI world championship event, when she battled the hills in the u23 category in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, in 2018.

“That was like a dream come true,” explains the pint-sized rider.

“I was so happy and I felt like a hero. That was the best thing that I have ever done for this mother land.”

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The next goal is to compete at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in the Mountain Bike Cross Country event, where she hopes to join some of her team mates from The Sufferfest African Dream Team.

“African Dream Team is the only UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) registered team in Africa. It is an MTB team for African riders from Lesotho and Botswana, although I’m the only rider from Botswana.”

Ebudilwe is hoping to draw motivation and advice from her team mates, including Phetetso Monese, who competed at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

The establishment of The Sufferfest African Dream Team is the major reason that Ebudilwe switched from road cycling, where she won multiple national titles, to mountain biking.

“The scholarship for the African Dream Team was available only for mountain biking, so I decided to try for the scholarship because I didn’t want to miss that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

This opportunity sees Ebudilwe divide her time between southern Africa, where the team trains on the hills and altitude of Lesotho and South Africa, and Switzerland, where she is based during the European racing season.

Switzerland is a long way from the village of Mahalapye in the north of Botswana, where the self-confessed tomboy grew up.

“I grew up with my brother and cousins as the only girl, playing with the boys and everything they did. I did my primary and secondary school in Mahalapye, where I played soccer and I was the team captain.”

“I moved to the great city of Gaborone for senior school, and I got involved in cycling when I was doing my final year. I wanted to try a new sport, then I thought cycling is not so popular, so let me go for it.”

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A background in road cycling explains where Ebudilwe’s strengths lie as a mountain biker.

“Since I started cycling with a road bike, I’m better on flatter trails, where I can just put the hammer down and go without any obstacles to do. I think I am better at endurance, definitely not climbing, because I’m from a very flat country and low altitude.”

That said, she is certainly enjoying her adopted sport.

“MTB is fun, it gives me freedom. I go anywhere I want. It’s also challenging mentally on some of the obstacles.”

Ebudilwe’s ascension to the world championships began on African soil, where she competed in the African Youth Games, the African Road Championships and the African MTB Championships. It is also where she joined fellow Dream Team rider Likeleli Masitise for a very credible 3rd place in the Elite Women’s category of ‘Lesotho Sky’, a six-stage cross country race through the high-altitude trails of the land-locked African nation.

While Ebudilwe is the first Motswana to challenge herself against the sport’s best at the world championships, she doesn’t expect to be the last.

“My federation is trying to make the MTB sport grow. They took 7 guys to the African Championships in Namibia this year, so they’re really trying.”

She also credits the federation, as well as her support network, with her rise to the elite level of the sport.

“There are lots of people who contribute a lot to my cycling career. My local club Tsela riders, my team African Dream Team, my federation, my parents and friends, they support me left, right and centre.”

The 22-year-old revealed that she was chubby when she was 17/18, and that her dedication to training helped her to lose weight and develop the endurance of an elite cyclist.

“I train hard, I build my power in wattbikes and I try to push myself, even if it’s painful. I want to go to the Olympics next year.”

The time spent sweating in the lab is also taking Ebudilwe closer to her ultimate dream.

“I want to get a degree in sports management. Having a lady’s team is one of my dreams, and I also want to have my own beautiful family one day and own a laboratory for sports tests.”

Baks describes herself as a quiet person,

“…but that depends on where I am and who I am with. At school I was the funniest.”

It’s no surprise then, when she reveals;

“Above all, I want to live a happy life.”

Images: supplied

 

 

How do you stop Lionel Messi?

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How do you stop Lionel Messi?

Many footballers, fans and coaches throughout the world would love to know that. The Argentinian superstar is still scoring goals and winning games for Barcelona and Argentina and he remains one of the best footballers on the planet.

Thus, how do you curtail his whippet-like speed?

How do you halt those magical feet?

How do you stall the champion and detain him, hold him stationary for more than a split second?

You might try the following method.

Herd him into a narrow space.

In this case, the broadcast area of the mixed zone at the Beijing Olympics, where Messi had helped Argentina to beat Nigeria and take the gold medal.

Smile.

Thrust a microphone at him.

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Ask, politely, in Spanish, if he has time to answer a few questions.

Steps two to four will prove more successful if said microphone is held by Mexican television presenter, and former Miss Universe contestant, Marisol Gonzalez.

Messi is sure to stop, smile, and linger a while.

That is how you stop the great Lionel Messi.

 

Is it right for girls to fight?

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I saw teenage girls fighting Muay Thai recently in Bangkok, and I’m still not sure how I should feel about it.

The fight featured girls as young as 14 battling for glory in front of a healthy crowd of tourists at the end of the Muay Thai Live: The Legend Lives spectacular at Asiatique: The Riverfront in Bangkok.

The promise of authentic Muay Thai fights had lured many visitors who lacked the desire or means to attend a local Muay Thai event full of predominantly testosterone and alcohol charged men betting their life savings on their chosen warrior.

The tourist friendly show, in contrast, features real fighters throwing real kicks and punches, and spilling real blood, in the comfort of an air conditioned theatre complete with plush chairs, cup holders and popcorn.

My comfort was jolted when I saw the two girls emerge for the female fight. They were tiny. Both were short, slim, fit, athletes who looked more like junior marathon runners than fighters.

They’re going to fight?

Surely they’re too young, too small, too slim. They’ll snap in half.

While the girls performed the customary pre-fight ritual, I wondered how much they must weigh, and where they would be placed in boxing categories; featherweight, bantamweight, flyweight…?

Then my questions were answered. Look  ‘Supergirl’ Jaroonsak weighed in at just 48kg. The 15-yr-old would be classified as Mini Flyweight, and her opponent was actually shorter and younger than her.

The next shock arrived with the sound of the opening bell. The girls charged at each other, bouncing, kicking, clinching, kneeing and punching with the energy and freedom of a schoolyard brawl, which any school teacher would feel compelled to break up. The fights continued under the watchful eye of the referee and the young fighters’ natural athleticism, impressive flexibility and sharp skill created two very entertaining contests.

The pint-sized warriors didn’t hold back. The punches were real, the kicks were real and often well placed. The pain was real and so was the blood.

The fight didn’t last the distance, unfortunately. While ‘Supergirl’ lived up to her nickname, the fight came to a premature end when her opponent had to retire hurt. She was stopped not by the barrage of kicks to the leg or torso, not by the punches to the face or the elbows to her crown. Nor did she succumb to Jaroonsak’s  lethal knee strikes. No, she was stopped by a sprained ankle; the same injury she could easily sustain running cross-country or playing tennis or netball.

This incident reminded me that this fight was simply competitive sport for the girls, the officials, the coaches and even the families of the girls, who clapped their daughter upon victory or consoled her in defeat.

It was certainly a sport to Supergirl’s infant brother, who lapped the ring imitating his sister’s kicks and punches with great enthusiasm.

So, while one young girl limped out of the ring with an ice pack around her ankle, I began to think.

Why am I uncomfortable with girl’s fighting?

Would I feel the same way if the fighters had been 14-15-yr-old boys? Am I simply being sexist and conservative?

The girls appear to be fighting by choice and the hours of training had certainly kept them healthy. They demonstrated a high skill level and a genuine respect for the sport and its history, which had been outlined in the preceding stage show.

Is the sport as brutal as it looks?

Is my reaction the product of the safe, sanitised Western society in which I was brought up?

Would my opinion change if I stepped into the ring with them? They’d probably snap me in half.

Are the girls fighting for fun or for a future career?

According to a Thai friend with whom I spoke a few days after the fight, top Muay Thai fighters can earn very good money in Thailand, a country with limited economic opportunities.

Regardless of my doubts, one thing is certain. I don’t remember the names, ages or weight of any of the male fighters from that night, but I certainly remember ‘Supergirl’.

Image: http://www.fightland.vice.com

 

 

Why do A-League players commit less scandals than players from the NRL, AFL and Super Rugby?

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How many A-League footballers have been involved in off-field scandals in recent years?

How many proponents of The World Game have been caught taking or dealing illicit drugs, beating their wives, fornicating with dogs, urinating in public, gambling to excess, abusing alcohol, drink-driving or creating a social media scandal?

Can you think of any? Can you think of one?

If you can’t think of many, or even one, that’s not a surprise, because ‘footballers’ who play in the A-League have been involved in only a few scandals in recent years, compared to players from the NRL, AFL and Super Rugby, whose names constantly appear in the media for controversial incidents.

Where is the evidence?

The evidence can be found in The Frownlow Medal, a satirical award given to the footballer, from across Australia’s four major codes, who commits the worst off-field scandal in a 12-month period. The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours players who have committed scandals in previous years.

Previous winners of The Frownlow Medal are Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Corey Norman and Tim Simona, who are (or were) NRL players, and Karmichael Hunt, who played NRL and AFL before finding a home at the Queensland Reds Super Rugby team. Famous Hall of Fame inductees include AFL bad boy Ben Cousins and NRL player Julian O’Neill.

The total number of nominees per code since the awards’ inception in 2015 are listed below:

A-League – 5

NRL – 138

AFL – 57

Super Rugby – 20

#figures correct at time of publication.

Why?

What makes the A-League different?

The game?

The A-League is the only non-contact sport. Super Rugby and AFL require their players to put their body on the line, while Rugby League is simply brutal.

The History?

The A-League is the new, mainstream incarnation of a sport built by migrants and it is far more racially diverse than any of the other codes. The new mainstream appeal of the sport sees it enjoy consistent support throughout the country.

Rugby League emerged from working-class, inner-city Sydney before spreading throughout NSW and Queensland, while Rugby Union players traditionally came from exclusive private schools in those two states.

AFL, meanwhile, attracts players and supporters from across the social divide throughout Victoria and many other states.

Alcohol?

Alcohol is a common thread in nominations for players from all codes. So do NRL and AFL players drink more? Are they less capable of holding their drink?

What about Super Rugby players? They certainly enjoy a drink, but they are still less represented in the list of nominees. Can the private school network of Australian Rugby Union simply afford more expensive lawyers to keep their players’ names out of the papers?

Race?

A- League players and fans are truly drawn from every race in Australia. The three other codes are still predominantly Caucasian / Anglo-Saxon, although League and Union have seen a huge increase in players of Pacific Island descent. AFL, in particular, has made a deliberate attempt to identify talent among many ethnic groups, particularly the tall, athletic Sudanese men who seem ideally suited to the game. That said, none of the three codes enjoy anywhere near the same multicultural mix as the A-League.

Fame?

How many A-League players, apart from the marketing masterstroke Usain Bolt, are household names throughout Australia? In fact, how many Socceroos, apart from the recently retired Tim Cahill, are household names outside football circles?

Compare this to the unabashed adoration of AFL players in Melbourne and the rest of Victoria, as well as in SA, WA, Tasmania and the NT. Compare it also to the hero status of League and Union players in NSW and Queensland.

So, can we identify any of the factors listed above as the reason for the lack of off-field scandals among A-League players? Perhaps it’s a combination of all of them.

Who are the five A-League players to be nominated?

To find out, head to http://www.instagram.com/thefrownlowmedal/ or thefrownlowmedal.wordpress.com. Here you can find a full list of the A-League players and every other player who has so far been nominated for Australia’s most prestigious inter-code award.

Image: http://www.a-league.com.au

The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame Presents The Five-Man Scrum.

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The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame is excited to announce the greatest innovation in the history of Rugby Union – the five-man scrum.

The five-man scrum combines the traditional eight-man scrum with the three-man scrum employed in Rugby Sevens and has been introduced in honour of the five ACT Brumbies players who employed the tactic in an argument with a South African taxi driver, which also earned them a nomination for The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. Kiwi international Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 before Corey Norman in 2016 and Tim Simona in 2017.

The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.

Former ACT Brumbies players Joe Roff, Rod Kafer, Owen Finegan, Bill Young and Peter Ryan formed a scrum to push a taxi away from a police station in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2000. The driver had pulled into the station for assistance after the players had refused to pay the fare. Instead of finding a solution, however, the driver found his car down the street with no taxi metre and damage to the vehicle.

This occurred after the five players had become intoxicated at a restaurant, causing them to run around with their pants down and draw all over the tables with tomato sauce.

Rumours surfaced at the time that the players behaved in this manner at the restaurant because Brumbies officials had refused their demands to take them to McDonalds, buy them a McHappy meal and let them play in the kiddies’ playground.

Three of the players were fined and suspended by rugby authorities as a result of their behaviour, while two were issued with warnings.

The five-man scrum is expected to be a hugely popular addition to the game they play in heaven. Proponents argue that it will help to speed up the game, which will attract more viewers in an age of short-form sport.

However, northern hemisphere teams have fiercely rejected any move which will threaten their stranglehold on this facet of the game and hand an advantage to the already dominant southern hemisphere nations.

The revolutionary concept carries a gender-specific label because it will be implemented in the men’s game first, as it was invented by male players from the Brumbies. It will then become the norm for the women’s game and even filter down to the junior level.

While the finer details are still being formulated, it is known that players will be forced to drop their pants before forming the scrum, in another tribute to the scrum’s creators. This is a very exciting prospect for those packing down in the second row and for the audience, particularly if they are enjoying a meat pie while watching the game.

The taxi debacle was one of a number of drunken scandals involving Australian sportsmen (including Rugby League players) to occur around this time. This prompted a report on the ABC Radio program ‘PM’ into player behaviour, during which NRL spokesman John Brady claimed,

“…the fact of the matter is there’s been an enormous amount of work done and there are very few incidents.”

Judges of The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame invite Mr. Brady to stay tuned to this blog, and to consult http://www.instagram/thefrownlowmedal for the latest updates on Australian based footballers who have been involved in off-field incidents.

Image:Nuna

Nick Phipps Urinates His Way to A Nomination for The Frownlow Medal.

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Rugby Union player Nick Phipps has joined a long and illustrious list of players to be nominated for The Frownlow Medal for public urination.

The NSW Waratahs club captain admitted to urinating on the public bar at the Woollahra Hotel, in Sydney, while celebrating his buck’s party. He was suspended as club captain and fined $4000 for the incident.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. Kiwi international Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 before Corey Norman in 2016 and Tim Simona in 2017.

The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.

Phipps has announced his candidacy for The Frownlow Medal this year, but will find it hard to enter The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame up against some of the true masters of public urination.

Former NRL player Todd Carney is the most famous urinator, and his ability to demonstrate such impressive accuracy and control, as well as maintaining recommended levels of post-match hydration, saw him inducted into The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame.

Former NRL player Greg Bird also earned a nomination during his wedding weekend, but outshone Phipps when he urinated on a Police car in Byron Bay.

Bird and Carney head a list of past and present NRL players, and Frownlow urinators, including Craig Gower, Anthony Watmough, Willie Mason, Mitchell Pearce, Paul Gallen, Terrence Seu Seu and Frownlow legend Julian O’Neill.

Phipps will discover later this year if he has done enough to win The Frownlow Medal.

Image:Nuna

Daly Cherry-Evans and Jackson Hastings Take Their Bromance to The Frownlow Medal.

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Rugby League players Daly Cherry-Evans and Jackson Hastings are the latest footballing besties to be nominated for The Frownlow Medal.

The Manly halves pairing captivated Frownlow judges with their torrid tiff, which earned Cherry-Evans a $10,000 fine and saw Hastings potentially banished from the NRL.

The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. Kiwi international Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 before Corey Norman in 2016 and Tim Simona in 2017.

The playmakers proved that halves who play together stay together when they were involved in more than one altercation in Gladstone, Queensland. It is believed the second tiff happened at a strip club. There are unsubstantiated rumours that it started when a stripper tried to get between the two star-crossed lovers. This followed several off-field incidents involving Hastings.

Like every great football bromance, the relationship was repaired after the players kissed and made up, put the incident behind them and committed themselves to winning games and moving forward…

The pair will now attend the grand awards night for The Frownlow Medal later this year. They will take their place at the Bromance table alongside Justin Hodges and Corey Oates, James Tedesco and Shannon Wakeman, Wayne Carey and Anthony Stevens, Billy Brownless and Garry Lyon, as well as Ben Cousins and Daniel Kerr, and Daniel Cousins…

Image:Nuna