Virgin Australia Business Class Perhaps that is the best way of summing up Virgin Australia’s radical upgrade of its international fleet of Boeing 777-300ERs.Gone forever is the 2-3-2 business class configuration replaced by individual suites that are more at home in most airline’s first class cabins, while premium economy – now just Premium – has more leg room than most standard domestic business class.To cap off the good news for economy travellers there is a new Economy Space + product which sits neatly between Economy and Premium. Now the airline can boast it has a world class product for all budgets.And not only are the products superb but the atmosphere is stunning with excellent use of LED lighting to create a feeling of an opulent nightclub. The new products underscore that the airline really means business and is after a bigger share of the market.In business class there are 37 individual and private suites that convert into the length of a queen size bed at 80 inches (203cm) and they are set in a reverse herringbone layout, maximising privacy and enabling 100 per cent direct aisle access in a 1-2-1 configuration.There is loads of space to work, multi task and store personal items.And when dinner comes around there is no need to put anything away – just put your laptop or iPad aside. I was surprised by the amount of space on my return flights from Sydney to Los Angeles. The suite is essentially an enlarged version of that fitted to the airline’s A330s that ply Australia’s domestic routes. Big difference as you would expect on a larger aircraft is the amount of gadget space and just the sense of space. I could easy stow all the “stuff” I would need; iPhone, iPad, laptop, charger, and even my “good” camera for those classic sunset shots. Lunch was yet another Luke Mangan special and I chose King Prawns with carrot, daikon and coriander with miso and yuzu dressing. Main course was easy! Barramundi, a much sought after Australian fish, with black bean sauce, snow peas, rice and spring onions.The menu flowed on with range of magnificent deserts and cheeses but as I am on a health kick I resisted the temptation. And there are 10 choices of tea or coffee!But the real plus is the bed with its triple-layer seat cushion supported by a hammock sub-frame which guarantees a really good sleep. On my return flight from Los Angeles to Sydney I had eight hours!I know that compared to economy, business is luxurious but there are some business seats that don’t translate well into a flat bed and thus a good night’s sleep. If you are paying $8000 return from say Sydney to LA you expect to have a good night’s sleep.Of course if you don’t want to sleep the suite has the largest in-flight entertainment screen flying between Australia and North America, with an 18 inch High Definition touch screen claims the airline.I passed on the IFE and simply used my iPad loaded with all the classic movies and David Attenborough documentaries that I love.Virgin Australia has also revamped and expanded its business class bar and lounge and it now rivals Emirates A380 business class bar which I know is a big call. It is an intimate space and would be at home at the top end of Paris or London.The only issue is its proximity to the first row in the second business class cabin but Virgin Australia has now installed heavy duty curtains to block the light and any chatter. The bar also doubles as a place to have a continental breakfast before landing.Virgin Australia Group chief executive John Borghetti is lyrical about the new offering telling AirlineRatings.com that the airline is “committed to product innovation and delivering a superior customer journey on the ground and in the air.”“With competition increasing from Australia to North America and the Middle East, we believe this will be the best Business Class on the Pacific, with the product also being introduced to Abu Dhabi later this year,” said Mr Borghetti.Summing up – stunning product which matches the service!Note: The fleet will be ALL upgraded by the end of the third quarter of 2016. You can easily tell when you go to seat select which aircraft you will be on. Premium Virgin Australia has done a superb job repositioning its top economy product while adding a new twist that is sure to excite. Perhaps you could say the new and upgraded products are a time machine – back to when economy travel was more humane! Firstly it has morphed its premium economy into what it calls Premium. The improvements to the 24-seat cabin are numerous with more legroom than any other Australian airline is offering.Australian Business Traveller makes an interesting comparison noting that Virgin’s Premium offers 3 inches more legroom that the standard domestic offering in Australia. And the product has 9 inches more than economy – with a 19.5 inch wide seat and nine inches of recline.While I did not travel in the class I did take a seat and was surprised at what an amazing difference there is from economy. Essentially it is what the original business class was in 1979.Passengers get a plated meal services served on business class crockery and accompanied by a selection of wines from the business class cellar. There is dedicated check-in, priority boarding and priority baggage, enabling Premium guests to speed through airport formalities.Virgin’s explains that the number of Premium seats have been reduced and it is in a “smaller, more exclusive cabin which has taken seat comfort to a new level and really the positioning is around business light rather than economy plus.”But the big news is the new product, called Economy Space +, which is designed to make travel more comfortable and seamless for budget travellers who want a touch of class. This product will be available for flights commencing 30th of August. Its cost between A$135 and A$165 one way.This new class is located in a dedicated cabin of five rows behind Premium and the exit rows of the main economy cabin. And it’s amazing value!Passengers get extra legroom, check-in via a dedicated Premium check-in counter; pre-boarding, preferred overhead locker; dedicated crew members throughout the flight; guaranteed first meal choice; and premium noise-cancelling headset.Virgin Australia’s chief customer officer Mark Hassell told AirlineRatings.com that the airline believed Economy Space + will be very popular with a range of travellers.“Economy Space + enables you to speed through the airport and enjoy service from dedicated crew members throughout the flight, providing great value for guests,” said Mr Hassell.Virgin is the first Australian airline to adopt a local version of America’s popular “economy comfort” class, which allows travellers to trade up to a seat with more room without the premium economy price tag.According to AirlineRatings.com Consumer Editor Clive Dorman Economy Space+ is “big news” and I would have to agree and its “great news” as well for all those over 6ft or 182cms! “There are a total of 67 seats – 47 of them in the one cabin, the rest further down the main cabin and the “pitch” per seat row is 34 inches (86 cms) compared with 32 inches (81 cms) in economy,” said Mr Dorman.That brings economy back to what it used to be in the late 1960s. And it is amazing what a difference that two inches (5cms) makes!I found that at 193cm I had room to move that the extra sense of space is extraordinary. The feeling of claustrophobia disappears. “Instead of paying double or triple the economy rate, for say business the upgrade costs between $135 and $165 per seat one-way between Australia and the USA,” said Mr Dorman. Summing up Virgin Australia has this product mix perfectly targeted for all economy budgets and pockets – well done!!Premium fares from Sydney to Los Angeles is around is A$2200. Economy can be purchased for about A$800 and thus Economy Space + sits just under A$1000 one-way. (Fares sourced Sunday May 22 for travel August 30th)
Change the World visited Winnie Mandela Secondary School in Tembisa to hold a Connecting Leaders workshop, during which teachers were introduced to Microsoft office programs before taking a test to evaluate their newfound skillsEducation and computer literacy are central to finding jobs in a rapidly changing workplace; recognising this Natalie Emery started the Change the World Trust, to develop office-based computer literacy skills among South Africans.After founding and running literacy programmes in Delhi, India, for three years, Emery now develops and runs computer literacy projects through the trust, with sponsorship from the Dell Development Fund and Rectron.In 2008, the Change the World Trust started with one IT training centre in Olievenhoutbosch just outside of Centurion, Pretoria, before moving its main centre to Midrand after a series of robberies.Now the organisation runs its main operations from Midrand, with two smaller training centres in Zandspruit and Diepsloot, and holds tutorials on programs such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint.The organisation also offers advanced courses in web design and maintenance, and equips students with marketable IT skills.SKILLS FOR JOBS“It’s not just educational projects but also giving our students tangible skills so that they can actually go out and get jobs as well,” says Emery.“So we decided to go with computer basics and more advanced courses because we see that as a skill that is needed in the business community … if you have that skill it’s easier to get a job.”Change The World’s field team at Winnie Mandela Secondary School in Tembisa for their Connecting Leaders Programme (images: Mathiba Molefe)On what motivates her team, Emery says, “I think it’s seeing the success.“When we first started off what really motivated me was when we had 29 single young moms in our training centre in Olievenhoutbosch who weren’t able to finish high school and had very little opportunity to work because they had to care for their children.“After the training it was still very difficult for them but most of them got jobs. That was very rewarding; it showed us we were doing something right.”Emery says that just over 60% of the students who completed the training course in 2009 went on to get permanent jobs.The organisation also runs an outreach project, its IT Workshops programme, visiting schools across Gauteng.It offers school children, many of whom do not have access to a computer, lessons on how to operate one, and advanced courses similar to those available at the training centres.The organisation’s Connecting Leaders programme aims to improve teachers’ computer literacy skills to supplement their teaching and make tasks such as setting tests, and organising timetables and class rosters, easier.CONNECTING LEADERSOn 13 March 2014, Change the World visited Winnie Mandela Secondary School in Tembisa to hold a Connecting Leaders workshop, during which teachers were introduced to Microsoft office programs before taking a test to evaluate their newfound skills.Teachers successfully completing the test received proficiency certificates, and felt more confident about using the programs.Daniel Modiba, a home languages and social science teacher, said what he had learnt during the training session would make his life a lot easier; “This was very fascinating, I didn’t have an idea how to use this thing [a laptop] but as of now I have a little light at the end of the tunnel.“It was a problem for me but as of now I’m going to use this thing in front of my learners and for more personal things too.”Steven Masemola, head of the English department, said he has had a computer for some time but wasn’t quite sure how to use some of the programs, but “now I know how to use Excel and PowerPoint. I want to get a projector so that I can use the computer in the lessons to the benefit of my students and teachers during meetings.”The organisation’s Connecting Leaders programme aims to improve teachers’ computer literacy skills to supplement their teaching and make tasks such as setting tests, and organising timetables and class rosters, easierFaith Moyengwa, a trainer at Change the World, says she finds being a part of the organisation “fun and rewarding”, “especially the projects that we do going out to the schools and working with kids”.“Right now we’re busy with a project, Boot Camp; we gather high school students and they do basic web design, so that’s pretty cool.”The Boot Camp project teaches high school students how to create websites using popular programming language HTML/CSS, and techniques to create functional, attractive websites.The Boot Camp culminates in a competition in which the most promising pupils compete individually or in groups to create functional websites in four hours.The competition winners receive a tablet and a certificate of proficiency, while second and third place contestants receive 16 gigabyte and eight gigabyte flash drives respectively with their certificates.PLAY YOUR PART“All these projects would not have happened without the support from the Dell Development Fund and our fantastic sponsors,” says Emery.She encourages individuals to “get involved”, and help the non-profit to continue its work by visiting the organisation’s how-to-help page, calling its offices on +27 (0)11 455 2282, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
From the Cape West Coast on the desert border with Namibia to northern KwaZulu-Natal, the South African coastline stretches more 2 500 kilometres and boasts some of the most beautiful beach landscapes in the world. Kei Mouth in the Eastern Cape is one of many beaches along the South African coastline that you can enjoy this summer. (Image: Brand South Africa)Brand South Africa reporterEverything from popular blue flag beaches to secluded sandy stretches seemingly untouched by the modern world, South Africa’s beaches have something for everyone and every taste: surfing, fishing or relaxing.Here are captivating images of just a small portion of the majestic South African coastline.Hobie Beach: When in Port Elizabeth, check out Hobie Beach. Situated in the vicinity of The Boardwalk, the beach hosts the annual Splash Festival, which has great shopping and entertainment. The beach, which is a favourite for swimming, sunbathing and body surfing, also offers sheltered rock pools with interesting inter-tidal sea life. It also includes a launching place for sailing and rubber ducking. (Image: Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism)Jeffreys Bay: South Africa’s home of surfing is a laid back hamlet that always opens its arms to tourists. Try your hand at surfing or just relax with a drink at the Jolly Dolphin pub. (Image: South African Tourism)Kei Mouth: The small seaside village of Kei Mouth is less than 100km from East London. With a comfortable climate and uncluttered beaches on the western bank of the Great Kei River, the area is a popular fishing spot and for those looking for a slower pace. (Image: Wikipedia)Morgans Bay: Just an hour’s drive from East London, this little resort town has been the Eastern Cape’s best kept secret for its frequent visitors until recently. Now, it graces must-visit lists. Don’t be surprised if the beach is packed in December. Book early. (Image: Morgan Bay Hotel)Nahoon: Nahoon is a popular East London beach, and is one of the region’s top surf spots with almost perfect waves. Watersports, safe swimming and fishing are also big attractions for locals and tourists alike. (Image: Shamin Chibba)Umhlanga Rocks: Meaning “the place of reeds” in Zulu, Umhlanga Rocks makes for a fine getaway for those looking to do some shopping and fine dining. And if you want to stay in luxury with a great view of the ocean, The Oyster Box Hotel should be your first choice. (Image: Caelus Aerial Photography)Boulders Beach: Boulders Beach, near Simon’s Town, Cape Town, is renowned for its penguin population and picture-postcard family-friendly beaches. Boardwalk tours through the penguin colony give visitors a close-up view of the endangered African penguin. (Image: South African Tourism)Christmas Bay: Situated in Ballito Bay, it is here that the wreck of the Phoenix can be spotted. (Image: Tourism KwaDukuza)Camps Bay: As one of South Africa’s most famous beaches, Camp’s Bay attracts tourists and locals alike with pristine white sand beaches, favourable summer weather and one-in-a-million views of the majestic Table Mountain. (Image: Wikipedia)Hermanus: Hermanus is a coastal town on the southern coast of the Western Cape, renowned for its perfect whale-watching experience. Humpbacks and blue whales can be spotted along its coast from June to December. (Southern Destinations.com)Noordhoek: As one of the Cape’s best kept secrets, Noordhoek hides in the shadow of Chapman’s Peak. Its picturesque and sandy shoreline is popular with horse riders and families. (Image: Noordhoek Tourism)Paternoster: Paternoster is one of the oldest fishing villages on the west coast of South Africa. (Image: Audley Travel)Santos Beach, Mossel Bay: As one of South Africa’s most recent blue flag beaches on the Garden Route, Santos is becoming a popular destination for families and young people in the region.Coffee Bay: Coffee Bay is a rustic beachcomber village, close to Port St Johns on the Eastern Cape coast, offering fishing, swimming and diving for visitors looking for a tranquil but adventurous ocean experience. (Image: Pank Seelen, Flickr)Hole in the Wall, Coffee Bay: Situated on the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast, The Hole is part of a natural rock formation that connects the ocean to the Mpako River. The booming waves against the rock give it its isiXhosa name ‘esiKhaleni’ – the place of sound. (Image: Rodger Bosch, Brand South Africa)Source: SAA 26 Degrees South Blog
The official song of the World Cup scheduled from February 19 to April 2 – “De Ghumaa Ke” is already making its presence felt in the sub-continent.Its composers Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy say that they created it keeping in mind every section of the society. “We thought about what one should expect of an anthem, and we wanted to compose a song that appealed to every cross-section of society.”The trio, critically acclaimed music directors in Bollywood, have created versions in Hindi, Bangla and Sinhalese that will feature widely in the build-up to and during the tournament to be hosted jointly by India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.”The title De Ghumaa Ke (literally meaning ‘Hit it Hard’) is a term you use whether you’re watching your own local team or Sachin Tendulkar hit a six. That’s the whole idea, a fun song that will catch on and we hope it gets the crowds chanting and dancing in the stands throughout the ICC Cricket World Cup,” the composers said in an ICC statement issued from Dubai.
The semifinal appearance in the women’s doubles event at the just concluded Wimbledon championships catapulted Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina to number two slot in the WTA Race to year-end Championships.Sania-Elena pair have 4506 points in the list, headed by Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, who have 6865 points. The top-four pairs compete in the prestigious year-end championship.”The partnership with Elena has been great in the last four months, specially the Slams. When we started playing together last year at Dubai, and had somebody said that we will be number two after Wimbledon, we would have laughed,” Sania told PTI from Dubai.Sania has taken a three-week break from the circuit to recover from the injury in the left knee.”It’s (knee) sore since I am off the pain killers. I am recovering. Hopefully it will be okay after 10 days rest.” Sania’s first tournament after the break will be the WTA event in Washington from July 25.The good show at the Wimbledon also resulted in Sania achieving the career-best doubles rank of 11, an improvement of three slots. In the singles though Sania slid to 63, a loss of three position, after a first round exit.In the ATP rankings, Somdev Devvarman rose to career-best 63 in the singles.Leander Paes also improved his doubles rankings by getting back into the top-10. He is placed eighth while his partner Mahesh Bhupathi is highest ranked Indian in the list at number five.Rohan Bopanna is at number 10, just behind his Pakistani partner Aisam-ul-haq Qureshi.advertisement- With PTI inputs
OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry’s greatness as a basketball player can be measured by his record-setting shooting numbers that are changing the game.His immense popularity derives from something less tangible.While many NBA greats rely on uncommon height and athletic ability that average fans can only dream of having, Curry’s game relies on the traits that every casual player can work on: shoot, dribble and pass.The difference is, perhaps nobody ever has put those three skills together the same way Curry has the past year as he has dominated on the court and made the once downtrodden Golden State Warriors the NBA’s must-watch team.“The way that I play has a lot of skill but is stuff that if you go to the YMCA or rec leagues or church leagues around the country, everybody wants to shoot, everybody wants to handle the ball, make creative passes and stuff like that,” he said. “You can work on that stuff. Not everybody has the vertical, or the physical gifts to be able to go out and do a windmill dunk and stuff like that. I can’t even do it.”That’s about all Curry is unable to do on the basketball court. His amazing year, in which he won an MVP, led Golden State to its first title in 40 years and helped the Warriors get off to a record-setting start this season, earned him The Associated Press 2015 Male Athlete of the Year.Curry finished first in a vote by U.S. editors and news directors, with the results released Dec. 26. He joined LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird as the only basketball players to win the honor in the 85 years of the award.Curry beat out golfer Jordan Spieth, who won two majors, and American Pharoah, who became the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown.While American Pharoah got three more first-place votes than Curry’s 24, Curry appeared on 86 percent of the 82 ballots that ranked the top five candidates. More than one-third of the voters left American Pharoah off their list.“That’s a real honor,” Curry said. “I’m appreciative of that acknowledgement because it’s across all different sports. … It’s pretty cool.”Curry has become the face of the NBA this past year. His jersey is the best-seller in the league, his team’s games get record television ratings at home and in opposing markets and even his 3-year-old daughter Riley became a star by overshadowing her dad at playoff news conferences.Even his intricate warmup routine has become a show for fans who get out early or even sometimes on TV pregame shows.He does an elaborate two-ball dribbling routine, works on passes and shots with both hands, takes jump shots from just inside half court and then caps it with a long-range shot from the tunnel on the way back to the locker room.“Steph actually looks different,” ESPN analyst Jalen Rose said. “Like the best player in the league usually is also physically opposing — 6-6 plus, scowl on his face, menacing. With the attitude that we appreciated because like a Michael Jordan or Shaquille O’Neal, or Kobe Bryant, you know, just a cutthroat nature. Steph allows us into his living room. We see him on a national stage be a son, a dad, a husband, a father, a brother. And he does all of it while continuing to improve.”Curry has improved his scoring from 23.8 points per game to 30.8 — the biggest one-year jump ever by an MVP — prompting Rose to say that Curry could be the most improved player and repeat as MVP this season in a remarkable tribute to the offseason work he put in even after winning a title.He has become much more efficient scoring on drives and has amazingly added range to his already record-setting 3-point shooting. Curry can consistently make shots from 28 feet out as he is on pace to shatter his own record of 3-pointers made in a season.The drive to succeed is fueled by the fact that Curry got no major scholarship offers coming out of high school, he was the third point guard taken in the 2009 draft and he settled for a below-market contract extension three years ago because people questioned his durability following ankle injuries.“The thing I would say about Steph, what makes him who he is, is that nobody has to challenge him to get to the next level because he does it on his own,” coach Steve Kerr said.“I didn’t think he could get that much better from last year but I do think he’s gotten considerably better, which is quite a feat when you’re the reigning MVP.”(JOSH DUBOW, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shares
President Vladimir Putin said a shadowy political plot had succeeded in unfairly stripping some Russian sportspeople of the right to compete at the Rio Olympics over doping allegations and promised to defend Russia’s tarnished sporting reputation.Addressing members of Russia’s Olympic team in the Kremlin on Wednesday, Putin said a decision by global sporting organisations to ban Russian track-and-field athletes and sportspeople in everything from swimming to rowing flew in the face of common sense and legality.“The deliberate campaign targeting our athletes was characterised by so-called double standards and opted for the idea of collective responsibility, which is not compatible with sport, justice, or the basic norms of law,” said Putin.“It is an attempt to apply the rules which unfortunately dominate in geopolitics to the sporting world,” he said, hitting out at what he called “short-sighted political schemers.”With Russia months away from parliamentary elections and stuck in an economic crisis, the scandal, which centres on allegations the Russian government and the FSB security service covered up doping for years, has rocked the Russian sports world and tarnished Putin’s showcase 2014 Winter Olympics.But his tactic of pinning the blame on a shadowy plot, which he has previously suggested emanates in the West, taps into voters’ patriotism and analysts say the imbroglio is unlikely to hurt his stratospheric ratings.THE RUSSIAN CHARACTERPutin, a keen practitioner of judo and ice hockey, made his comments to over 100 sportspeople, some of whom have been banned from going to the Rio Games next month because of doping allegations by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and other federations.He spoke after the IAAF said there were “no grounds for further review” of its original decision.Occasionally looking glassy-eyed and emotional, Putin complained that many of those prevented from going had not been served with specific or proven doping accusations.“It is obvious that the absence of Russian sportspeople – leaders in many sporting disciplines – will significantly affect the intensity of the competition and diminish the spectator value of the forthcoming events,” said Putin.Any medal won in Rio in the absence of Russian athletes would be worth much less than usual, he added, predicting many victories would be hollow.Pledging tough action against any sportspeople guilty of doping as well as the creation of a system to prevent the practice, Putin said someone was trying to rewrite the Olympics’ founding principles – of equality, fairness and mutual respect.The atmosphere at the meeting, held in a glittering hall in the Kremlin, was sombre.Double Olympic champion pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, one of the athletes unable to attend Rio because of the scandal, became emotional when she spoke after Putin, saying her Olympic dream and that of others had been stolen.Putin said Russians excelled in the face of adversity.“There is an important and wonderful quality about the Russian character,” said Putin. “Difficulties only unite us and make us stronger.” Source: ReutersTweetPinShare0 Shares
In his 28th season on tour and even after winning 18 Grand Slam titles in men’s and mixed doubles, the 45-year-old Leander Paes still feels the need to reinvent himself to keep up with the changing times in professional tennis.Born to parents from sporting backgrounds, the Indian turned professional in 1991 as a singles player rising to world number 73 with his serve-and-volley game.He went on to win the Olympic bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games in men’s singles, quite a feat in a cricket-mad country starved of individual success in Olympic sports.He has not tasted grand slam success since he and Martina Hingis won the mixed doubles title at the 2016 French Open but Paes is not ready to put his racket down yet.”Passion, I love the game,” Paes told Reuters when asked what keeps him going. “I love fitness and the hard work that goes behind it. I really, really enjoy being on the court and the competition and the fierceness.”Just to go out there and learn new shots, learn new movements, learn new things with the diet, with the scientific training the young kids are teaching me.”At the ongoing Australian Open, Paes made a first round exit in men’s doubles with partner Mexican Miguel Angel Reyes-Varela and suffered a second round defeat with local Samantha Stosur in mixed doubles.Paes has partnered 121 players in men’s doubles at the last count but was not sure if the number was 22 or 23 in mixed doubles.Paes remains popular in tennis circles and a sizeable number of fans turned up to watch him play at the Australian Open.advertisement”It’s pretty special. I am very blessed to have an unbelievable following and that’s one of the huge reasons that keeps me going,” he said.”I love to entertain people, I love to bring them some happiness in their lives. I like to give them a sense that they can achieve their dreams as well, especially the young kids.”Paes holds a career Grand Slam in both forms of doubles and says he is still highly sought after as a doubles partner.”This time in the locker room I have got 23 guys who have asked me to play. It’s been quite fun,” he said.The former doubles number one has slipped out of top 50 but is determined to work his way up the rankings ladder.Known for his athleticism on the court that has endeared him to fans, Paes promised to be even fitter in 2019 having also added a “bit” of martial arts to his training schedule.”I do a little bit, there are a bunch of different things I do. I look at the modern training, I look at my body type, my speed, my health and I have done quite a few different things.”Paes said he was not thinking about an eighth Olympic appearance in Tokyo next year but was not contemplating retirement either.”One day it will come to an end for sure, I know that. Everything that starts comes to an end, that’s just the circle of life,” he added.”But as far as I am concerned I have never ever quit in my life. I am going to be 46 in a few months but I feel fit, I feel strong, I feel healthy and happy. I am living my dream.”Also Watch:
Transfers Hebei CFFC and Barcelona reach Mascherano agreement Zhicheng Hu Last updated 1 year ago 14:34 1/11/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(7) Getty Images Transfers Hebei CFFC Barcelona CSL Primera División After protracted negotiations, the Spanish giants have come to an agreement with the Chinese side over the transfer of the Argentine veteran Wantaway Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano is finally set to leave the Liga giants after the club accepted a bid for the player from the CSL outfit Hebei China Fortune, Goal understands.The two clubs have been wrangling hard over the final transfer fee, with Barca demanding at least €10 million for the Argentinian. However, Hebei China Fortune are reluctant to pay more than €5.77 million, which would trigger a 100 per cent levy on the payment for the transfer.The Chinese Football Association announced last June that any loss-making club in China’s top two divisions that pays more than 45 million yuan (€5.77 million) for a foreign player transfer must pay the same amount to a CFA youth development fund. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player The CFA made its presence felt on Tuesday by issuing a harsh warning that it would severely punish clubs who flagrantly violate its transfer rules, following reports that Guangzhou Evergrande and Beijing Guoan are engaging in a bidding war over Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.Sources have told Goal that Hebei China Fortune held their ground in protracted negotiations with Barcelona for fear of incurring the wrath of the CFA, and eventually managed to convince the Blaugrana to accept a fee less than €5.77 million for Mascherano.The 33-year-old is set to earn €7m-per-year in Hebei where his compatriot Ezequiel Lavezzi and former Arsenal forward Gervinho also ply their trade.
Premier League Will snow forecast impact UK football matches this weekend? Ryan Kelly Last updated 1 year ago 21:59 3/3/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Premier League Championship Premiership WTF Freak Arctic weather has been wreaking havoc on everyday life across the United Kingdom, including weekly football games A weather front dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’ is making its way across Europe, bringing freezing temperatures and disrupting everyday life.Football does not exist in a bubble so it too is at risk of disruption, with games at all levels equally susceptible to being postponed until later dates.The usual calendar of fixtures has already been impacted across the continent and in Britain, but the weather is expected to get worse in the coming days. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player As the United Kingdom finds itself cloaked in snow, Goal takes a look at what games are likely to be affected by the ‘Beast from the East’.What games are at risk due to snow? According to the Met Office , the freezing weather is forecast to last until the weekend, meaning that, in theory, a lot of games in the UK are at risk of being affected.Premier League action kicked off on Thursday evening as Arsenal hosted Manchester City in a repeat of the Carabao Cup final and the game was unaffected by the weather.The rest of the games take place on Saturday and Sunday, so clubs involved in those games – including the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Man City – will be hoping that the worst of the weather will have passed.Manchester United are not in action until Monday evening, so, based on the current forecast, it is not under threat of being called off.Tottenham’s home clash with Huddersfield Town is set to go ahead, although the club have suggested that fans set off an hour earlier to avoid being impacted by travel delays.Five Championship matches on Saturday have been postponed: Aston Villa vs QPR , Barnsley vs Norwich City , Brentford vs Cardiff City, Wolves vs Reading and Sheffield Wednesday vs Burton Albion .#LondonSnow pic.twitter.com/j9OhlWOuez — Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 28, 2018 Only five games in League One and League Two are still scheduled, with the other 16 having been forced to cancel and replay at a later date.In Scotland, two of Saturday’s Premiership matches were called off (St Johnstone vs Hamilton Academical and Ross County vs Partick Thistle) but both the Scottish Cup games, including Celtic vs Morton, will go ahead. Every single game in Ireland has been called off.You can keep an eye on which games are going ahead on Goal’s live scores centre .Have any games already been called off due to snow? Yes, a number of games have already been affected by the inclement weather and in some cases entire rounds have been postponed.In Europe, the Coppa Italia match between Juventus and Atalanta was called off at the last minute after heavy snow pounded Turin on Sunday.In the UK, six games in Scotland’s Championship, League One and League Two were postponed on Tuesday due to the weather, but some Premiership matches went ahead.However, Wednesday’s Premiership games, including Celtic versus Dundee, were called off. A further eight games were called off on Friday and Saturday.GAME OFFTonight’s #SPFL Premiership match against Dundee at Celtic Park has been postponed due to the severe weather.Details of the re-arranged date for #CELDUN will be announced in due course.https://t.co/BMnumWfwnA pic.twitter.com/l8yqRBdfKk — Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) February 28, 2018 Some matches in England’s lower leagues were cancelled on Tuesday too, while an entire round was nearly held back because of the weather.A humourous incident occured during a League One game between Peterborough United and Walsall as heavy snowfall threatened to end the game prematurely.However, some Peterborough players helped ground staff to clear the areas around the 18-yard box and perimeter to ensure the game was completed, thus allowing them to clinch a 2-1 win.What is ‘The Beast from the East’? The so-called ‘Beast from the East’ is a polar vortex and it is bringing snow, ice and cold winds with it as it passes over Europe.Its official name is ‘Storm Emma’ but it has been dubbed the ‘Beast from the East’ because it is moving from Siberia in Russia, sweeping west across the continent towards the Atlantic Ocean.As a consequence of the vortex, Arctic conditions are to be expected, such as sub-zero temperatures, heavy snowfall and frost.Temperatures in parts of central Europe have reached minus 20 degrees and, while the UK is not experiencing such drastic cold, it is expected to reach minus 10 degrees in places.Red weather warnings are in place in many countries with places – such as schools and businesses – shutting down to encourage the avoidance of travel. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.