Football: What a Week!

In a week where football has shown why it is the number one sport in the world, there are still people who continue to remind us of the violence and corruption that will continue to lurk in the shadows, waiting to emerge its ugly head once more. So what better way to enjoy the good and bad of this fantastic sport by having a quick look at the top events from the week.


He’s Back!

Talking of the ugly side of the game, let’s begin with Sepp Blatter.

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Sepp Blatter (Via WikiCommons)

Since being removed from his position as the president, ringleader and king of the fraudsters, Sepp Blatter has been a little less common on publicly circulated media forum and outlets. Clearly not happy, he decided to make himself relevant by coming out and stating that “money is at risk of ruining football!”

Really Sepp?

Blatter went on to add that, “people already pay a lot to get into the football stadium. Prices are getting higher and higher because clubs need more money.”

“When all of this (law case against FIFA) is done, I want to write a book – my memoirs, more or less.” Hope he title’s it, “My Confession by Sepp Blatter!” 

Two things immediately come to mind…

  1. He doesn’t realise that money has ruined football already, hence why the same teams, from the same leagues are always taking the trophies.
  2. Immediately after hearing the comment about ticket prices, does he not realise people will want to know how much a ticket to see a World Cup match is?

The answer to the latter question is $105 for the cheapest seats in a group match, to a whopping $1100 for a ‘Category 1′ ticket at the Final. Same category ticket at this years’ Champions League final is $660 and $140 at the Europa League Final – otherwise there’s no way anyone would go all the way to Azerbaijan, where the final is being held, to watch Arsenal and Chelsea fight for the trophy.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree with Blatter that ticket prices are high, but it’s ridiculous to hear him say it knowing full well that the organisation he ran for 17 years charged astronomical figures for games.

Dummkopf!


Give Me Your Kit!

This season has been a bust for many teams that had high hopes and for one team it couldn’t have been worse. Grasshoppers Zurich of Switzerland have officially been relegated from the Swiss top division for the first time in 68 years!

During the final league game, Zurich players consistently made unbelievable errors and were losing 4-0 at F.C. Luzern. The fourth goal seemed to be all that the traveling fans could take. As a whole, they moved pitch-side and threatened to storm the pitch. As a result, the referee had to stop the game, giving the Zurich players a chance to go over and calm their fans down.

Which they manage to do after some of the players partly succumbed to the demands of the fans in order to prevent the situation from escalating.

Unfortunately, those demands were to hand over their shirts and socks, and crawl back to the changing rooms in just their pants.

As you can imagine, the game was abandoned.


How The Hell Did That Not Go In???

Football is all about fine margins. Ultimately, those fine margins have been the decider of what has been an incredible Premier League season.

January 3rd 2019, Man City vs Liverpool. Man City won 2-1 but the talking point was the 11mm that cost Liverpool dearly…

Man City vs Liverpool talking point

Then a similar incident occurred, once again benefiting Manchester City, when they played Burnley…

Title deciding goal

Either one of those go the other way, and Liverpool – came second by one point – would would have become the Champions. Instead they have created history by accumulating the highest ever points total for a team that finished runners up.

Obviously, no one is silly enough to pinpoint one or two moments in an entire season but if we could then surely these two moments would be it.

What a week it has been, and that’s not even considering the comebacks in Europe. More of the same next week please…

Health & Fitness: “Fast” Way to Better Health

Here we go again…

For many Muslims, the month of Ramadan brings them closer to a peaceful afterlife, while for others, a chance to become healthier, challenge themselves or simply be able to relate, on some level, to the millions around the world that suffer from hunger and thirst on a daily basis.

As a person who grew up with Islamic traditions and practices, the month of Ramadan is something I am familiar with. Even though a child is expected to begin fasting at the age of 14, I began abstaining from food and drink at the “grown-up” age of eight. Apart from a few years during my early 20’s, I have fasted every year. My failure to partake was due to health reasons which no longer affect me. I had a condition known as being overly handsome, whereas now I am the perfect level. Thank you for everyone’s concern, though.

All joking aside, this month is a great opportunity for people to flush out all of the rubbish that infects their insides and start fresh with a health-kick. I remember fasting as a kid, and still playing football. I wasn’t able to play longer than 45 minutes as water is prohibited. When my mum saw that I was unwilling to stop running after a ball of air, she insisted that I ring the Imam at the mosque that I attended as a child.

The conversation was short, sweet and went something like this;

“Is it ok to skip a fast day and make it up at the end of the month because I play football on Saturdays?”

“Yes, but for each day you miss, you need to do three extra days”

“THREE extra???”

Guess as the saying goes, “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

So, I decided to do the crime.

As you can imagine, my performance levels were affected greatly.

The problem is that skipping one day of the fast alone will prevent the occurrence of any serious injury, but won’t allow you to perform at the peak of your abilities. Which is why many sporting stars have to change their training schedules, choices of meals and sleeping habits. This month long challenge affect everyone, unless you’re 48 year-old American triathlete Khadijah Diggs who dropped down to do sprint triathlons (consisting of a half-mile swim, a 12-mile bike race, and 3.1-mile run) instead of the full triathlons she would normally do. Incredibly, in 2016, she ended up winning a super sprint event while fasting.

 

Are you thinking of partaking for the first time?

Nowadays, many trainers and health and fitness authorities talk about intermittent fasting as a great method for weight loss, but like any other diet-like process, it is useless by itself. On the scales, you will definitely weigh less, simply because of the water weight that you will lose but your body is unlikely to look any different.

During the fast, it is important to eat healthy, which I am going to say, even though it goes without saying.  When fasting there are two important times of the day known as Sahur/Sehr, which is during the early hours at which you have to stop all food and drink consumption. The other time being Iftar, when you can start stuffing your face again (which no one actually does).

Recommended foods for Sahur/Sehr:

  • Slow digesting foods such as wholegrain cereals and starches. (Oatmeal etc)
  • Slow digesting fruits, such as, apples, peaches, pears, citrus and bananas.
  • Smoothies are great for people with no appetite

Recommended foods for Iftar;

  • Non-starchy vegetables
  • Starchy foods like rice and potatoes
  • Lean proteins
  • Dates and fruit juices help provide the glucose you were denied all day

As a note, it is better to avoid all coffee, heavy sauces, sweets and chocolate, fried food etc…

Not easy…

As well as the fast, you should do some exercise per day, which is to be done one hour after breaking fast, as your body needs time to digest the food you have eaten and turn it to energy. Energy which is vital for your body not to hate you.

Take it from me, your body will hate you.

Whatever your religion, ethnicity, cultural background or profession, the month of Ramadan will be spiritually, physically and mentally rewarding as long as you respect yourself and treat your body like a temple. At least this way you can feel healthier before you ultimately corrupt yourself and return to the days of using your body as a trash can, unless you realise that this whole fasting malarkey isn’t so bad after all…

World Earth Day – Green Sports

A few weeks back, my partner Alexandra decided to log a few important dates on to our shared calendar, and the first one popped up yesterday. World Earth Day. Immediately, she then decided to come up with a way for me to link it to sports. It didn’t take her long.

“Hey, I wonder if any sports do anything to help the environment!”

To which I replied, “I bet they do.”

It is actually very impressive how many sporting organisations are actively trying to reduce waste within their day-to-day runnings. Interestingly they all seem to be located in America. Many teams utilise solar panels or some form of renewable energy for daily operations. Recycling and composting systems are available at practically all the major stadiums.

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Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles (Via WikiCommons)

According to CBS news, the Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) are one of the most active teams. Their Lincoln Financial Field accommodates 11,000 solar panels and 14 wind turbines that have been generating since 2015. The Eagles are currently in the midst of a “Go Green” campaign (Launched in 2003) that has seen them reduce water and electrical use, among many other improvements they have made. The most incredible fact is that they have increased their recycling rate by 209%.

Wherever you look, you will see improvements. Many of the American stadiums use rainwater to clear their stadiums, and are making conscious decisions to improve. The Seattle Mariners (MLB) installed a scoreboard in 2010 that uses 90% less electricity when compared to the previous one.

What about the rest of the world?

There is a lot of catching up to do, and it shouldn’t be too difficult if the right people put their minds to it. Take the footballing world for example. UEFA has a financial fair play rule which is in place to stop clubs from spending beyond their means, yet there isn’t such a push when it comes to the environment. Biggest issue right now is that aesthetics is more important than the planet for most teams. I’m not silly enough to think that English football stadiums should have solar panels, as we don’t enjoy enough sunshine, but a few wind turbines would be a huge positive, even though they look “ugly.”

Furthermore, match-day programmes could be digitalised or printed on recycled paper, and the governing authorities could financially reward the teams that help the environment. After all, money is what it all comes down to for most of the owners!

As much as there are potential steps that could be taken in some sports, others are just plain awful for the environment. Near the top of the list is one of the most pleasurable yet infuriating sports I have ever played; Golf! All around the globe, golf courses require approximately 4 billion gallons of water per day! I don’t think that’s being used on any course that I’ve ever played at if truth be told.

There’s also the small matter of the amount of times players and teams need to travel via planes, which add to the pollution levels.

golf water
Wasting Water (Via WikiCommons)

 

Whatever way you look at it, the sporting industry as a collective could do a lot more than what it is doing right now, apart from in The States. I will be one of the first to admit that whenever I think of American sports, I always sigh and go on a rant about how they refer to the winners of their domestic league as “World Champions.” However, when it comes down to being eco-friendly, World Champions they definitely are.

 

I Can’t Stop Doing 30-Day Challenges!

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Third month of the challenge activated!

Just over a month ago, I talked about my 30-day challenge and how it was going to make me look and feel amazing. For anyone who missed that article, well, here it is: A Better Body, 30 Days at a Time.

As you can imagine, the second month wasn’t as easy. I had decided to up the workload and put in dietary requirements. Yes, it’s just one fruit, but I can never seem to find fruit  anywhere. (Obviously, “anywhere” seems to never be the grocery store. I never seem to have the same difficulties when searching for a chicken wrap. Isn’t that weird …)

So let’s get the basics out of the way:

Yes, I am doing another month.
Yes, it will be even more difficult.
No, the last month wasn’t easy.

You see, the problem with December was that it was going to coincide with Christmas, New Year, a pre-planned trip with Alexandra, my partner, to Harbin, and the below-freezing temperatures that Beijing’s winter had to offer. Despite this “adversity,” I managed to complete the month. It wasn’t all plain sailing, though. The last week was a ball-ache to say the least.

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Last day of the 4th week…

Everything was going very well up until the fourth week. Saturday 29th December 2018, it was -8 degrees Celsius (17.6 degrees Fahrenheit). I was too afraid to scroll down and look at the “Feels like” section. I had run a total of 0 km and was looking at the possibility of endless mocking from a somewhat smug Alexandra, as she had wrapped up her daily challenge earlier on in the day.

The next part I am not proud of, but I will admit that I started bargaining with Alex.

She was having none of it. (See, this is true adversity.)

Holding back the tears, I put on some running attire and hit the streets.

Now, before you start celebrating my success. I have something else to admit. Although I had done my entire day’s workout on the 29th, I had missed a couple of days prior to that. So on the 31st of December, I found myself with five times my normal day’s workout to do.

I know, I know, you can’t make up missed workouts and blah blah blah, but in my defence … shut up.

So, there I was, in my hotel room on the final day of 2018, with a long list of exercises that I needed to do. It took me a while to say the least. However, it was the wake-up call I needed going into the third month.

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Another 30-day challenge completed

Firstly, I reduced the workout, just incase I had any catch-up days. We don’t want a repeat of New Year’s Eve, now do we? Secondly, I increased the run to 10 km per week. I also need to do yoga three times a week, which I have been loving so far. For anyone interested, you should youtube “Yoga With Adriene” or click here. The most difficult aspect of this month will be the “no bread” rule.

For me, bread is like an addiction. I have been brought up eating bread with everything. It’s the one thing that would always be on the dining table. It was only later on in life that I realised bread likes to camp out on the lower level of your belly, making me look big and cuddly.

I hate looking big and cuddly.

As you can imagine, there are some exceptions to the bread rule for this month. Why? Well, simply because I don’t want to die from going cold turkey, or even worse, end up at cafes sucking up the breadcrumbs left from a prior guest’s half-eaten muffin. The fear is real, people!

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So far, so good.

I can happily say that everything is going very well. Then again, this time last month, I was feeling the same. Hopefully by the end of the month I will feel as in control as I do now.

Ha! I just made myself giggle with that line!

 

A Better Body, 30 Days at a Time

I was sat at home relaxing when the bringer of bad news walked in …

“Babe, I have something to tell you …”

Those dreaded words!

I realise you lot are probably thinking the worst. But I knew it was even worse than that.

I could tell from the determined entrance and tone of voice that my partner had some genius fitness idea to get us both in to shape.

Note to all: Circle is a shape!!

And then the dreaded words: “Let’s do a 30-day challenge.”

The basic premise of the challenge is to set yourself a daily challenge, which needs to be completed for 30 consecutive days. The challenge needs to be something that you wouldn’t normally do.

Queue the jokes.

My first response was that I would, “Smoke a cigarette a day.”

(Playful slap)

I took it seriously after that.

Now, I realise that this sounds a little like a non-religious version of Lent. Except it is taken more seriously than Lent, but not as serious as fasting during Ramadan.

The Challenge

So, about this 30-day self-torture. I set myself a simple task, as I didn’t want to screw myself over.

Unfortunately, I screwed myself over.

My daily challenge started well, as the workout (50 crunches, 50 ankle touches, 30 push-ups, 10 leg lifts and 10 roll-outs) wasn’t too difficult. Stupidly, though, I designed a set of exercises that would work my stomach – something I hadn’t done in almost a year.

Day 2: It hurt to laugh, cough or do any other movement.
Day 3: I couldn’t sit down properly.
Day 4: I couldn’t tell if I needed the bathroom, or if I was feeling uncomfortable from the workout.

By Day 5, I was looking for ways to alter the workout itself.

By the end of the 30-day challenge, that pain left it’s place to boredom and tediousness because the workout had become a little mundane, and easy. Don’t get me wrong, I am still incredibly happy to have done the challenge and completed it. As the benefits were visible.

I hated Wednesday nights, though. I really did.

It’s tough to get home from two hours of football and hear the dreaded words, “You should do your workout soon and then shower.”

Colouring Squares
Colouring in that final segment to wrap up a successful challenge.

I can proudly say that I stuck to the original set of exercises, and I feel much stronger for it. I’m still far away from a six-pack, but my belly is a powerful one. The best thing is that I get to share another experience with my partner, and become healthier while doing so.

What Next?

I have set myself a new challenge. This time, I wanted to add more elements to my daily goal.

The New Challenge:

50 ankle touches
15 leg raises
30 push-ups
25 dips
30 second side planks
60 second plank
30 second wall sit
1x fruit and 1x vegetable
Run 8km over the week (not including running at football)
No fast food

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Already looking great. 

As you can see, I have kept the workout, but also added weekly cardio and, most importantly, some dietary requirements. I realise the dietary part isn’t very demanding, except, I am absolutely terrible at eating fruit.

Verdict

The challenge was a very good idea, and definitely worth doing, as it gives each individual the chance to decide their own challenge.

So, for anyone who is interested in getting healthier, I would advise the 30-day challenge, but there are some things you should consider:

  • Share the experience with someone, as you will motivate each other.
  • Set goal-orientated challenges and not time-orientated ones.
  • Create a chart that you can colour in on a daily basis. Visually seeing your progress helps keep you motivated.

Good luck!


Quick Note: Portions of this blog previously ran on my partner’s site, as she detailed her own experiences during our 30-day challenges. You can check out her pieces here: