Keep Dreaming, Keep Believing: Rugby skipper Kolisi tells South African children

Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, who scored the Springboks’ tries in Saturday’s final against England, were among the first group of players to land at OR Tambo Airport.

King Kolisi arrives



South Africa’s Rugby World Cup winning captain Siya Kolisi urged underprivileged children in the country to “keep dreaming and keep believing” as he carried the Webb Ellis trophy through thousands of fans on the team’s return home on Tuesday.



Kolisi led the Springboks to victory in Japan when they beat England 32-12 in the final in Yokohama on Saturday, a third title for the country after 1995 and 2007, and the first under a black captain.



His rags-to-riches tale has been inspirational for many, and the raucous welcome the side received showcased the full range of the Rainbow Nation as fans from all walks of life spent hours waiting for a glimpse of the players as they emerged in groups from different flights.



The biggest cheer was reserved for Kolisi, who grew up in an impoverished township and has written his name not only into rugby folklore but also into the history of South Africa as a beacon of hope for those who face a bleak future.



“The kids must keep dreaming and keep believing,” he told reporters. “Anything can be overcome. When I was young, I was just focused on going to training each day, preparing myself for the opportunity just in case it ever came.



“I am proof it can be done. We don’t want it to be so tough for anybody else, we want to make it easier in the future.”



Kolisi said the players felt the support from back home during their time in Japan, with a TV screen in their hotel constantly replaying videos from fans, or images of ordinary South Africans celebrating their victories.



First batch arrives



Members of South Africa’s Rugby World Cup-winning team arrived home on Tuesday and thousands greeted them with a huge cheer at Johannesburg’s international airport.



Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, who scored the Springboks’ tries in Saturday’s final against England, were among the first group of players to land at OR Tambo Airport.



As he emerged into view in the arrivals hall, Mapimpi held his hands up and clasped them together as the crowd roared. Kolbe was recording the scenes on his cellphone.



Teammate Damien de Allende, with his gold medal draped round his neck, pumped his arms in the air in front of the fans wearing Springboks jerseys who packed the hall. Duane Vermeulen, the player of the match in the final, dished out high fives to fans.



People were also crammed together on the balconies overlooking the arrivals area — there was no room to move anywhere — and a giant South African flag hung on one wall. The smiling players had to be shepherded through the crowd by a police escort.



Mapimpi’s inspirational story



Mapimpi, like Kolisi, provided one of the heartwarming stories for the South Africa team. He grew up poor, went to an unfashionable school, and was overlooked for all of South Africa’s youth teams and only made his international debut last year at the age of 27.



He scored six tries at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, the second-highest number at the tournament, including South Africa’s first in a final.



“It’s amazing for me. I’m proud of myself, I’m proud of the team, I’m proud of the South African people, I’m proud of my fans, I’m proud of my family,” Mapimpi said. “I don’t have a lot of words. I don’t know what I can say. It’s amazing.”



Flanked by South Africa’s minister of sports at the official arrival news conference, Mapimpi also made the politician gasp — and his teammates chuckle — when he uttered an expletive on live TV while remembering a grueling fitness session in the buildup to the World Cup.



Springboks receive support from stars



He added that the team had also been inspired by messages from tennis great Roger Federer, whose mother was born in South Africa, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.



“I am a huge Federer fan, so when he sent the message it was special. Tom Brady as well, that was amazing for us as a team.”



What next



The Boks’ next encounter will be against an as yet unnamed opponent in the 2020 June International window, and Kolisi is hopeful that the core of the World Cup-winning side will be kept together.



“We would love to stay together as a team, but that will be down to the coach. A lot of us have committed to staying in South Africa for that,” Kolisi said.



Inspired by the story of Kolisi, who rose from a poor township to lift rugby’s biggest prize, the Springboks of 2019 have been compared to the team of 1995, which won South Africa’s first World Cup at home in front of Nelson Mandela nearly a quarter of a century ago. South Africa also won the World Cup in France in 2007.



Kolisi’s team has returned home to countrywide celebrations and will take the World Cup on a five-day tour of the nation starting on Thursday.



Agencies

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CAF's 'reverse pass': AFCON 2021 to be played in January

The new tournament dates will likely be unpopular with European soccer clubs, which have long objected to the mandatory release of their players in the middle of the domestic league seasons.

The 2021 African Cup of Nations is moving back to a January-February slot in the congested global soccer calendar, a switch likely to be unpopular with European clubs.

The 24-nation competition was originally planned to begin in June, but the Cameroonian soccer federation said Wednesday it will be held from Jan. 9-Feb. 6 to avoid the country’s rainy season.

The new tournament dates will likely be unpopular with European soccer clubs, which have long objected to the mandatory release of their players in the middle of the domestic league seasons.

The current Liverpool squad would stand to lose star forwards Sadio Mane of Senegal and Mohamed Salah of Eqypt, the past two African players of the year.

The influential European Club Association has been part of talks with FIFA to move toward coordinating all continental championships in the European offseason. The 2019 Cup of Nations, hosted by Egypt as a late replacement for Cameroon, was the first in the new June slot.

FIFA’s revamped Club World Cup competition also kicks off in June 2021, with a 24-team lineup including Liverpool set to play in China.

Moving the 2021 African Cup of Nations clears a competing tournament from the calendar and avoids a clash for African players at top European clubs.

Barca sacks Valverde, appoints Setien

Barcelona will play Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League next month and Real Madrid in the league at the start of March. 

Spanish champions Barcelona has sacked its coach Ernesto Valverde and appointed Quique Setien, the club announced Monday.

The decision to remove Valverde was confirmed following a board meeting that last over 4 hours.

Barca top the La Liga, but have only won one of their last five matches. Valverde is the first coach the club has sacked mid-season since Louis van Gall in 2003.

Setien was presented at a press conference at Camp Nou on Tuesday afternoon. In a statement, the club said ‘‘Barcelona and Setien have reached an agreement for the latter to become first team coach until 30 June 2022’‘, it said.

‘‘Setien is one of the most experienced coaches in Spanish football. Throughout his career, he has been a proponent of possession based, attacking football that has been attractive to the fans”, it added.

Setien’s first game will be at home to Granada on Sunday.

Barcelona will play Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League next month and Real Madrid in the league at the start of March. 

AFP

CAF CL: Mazembe and Sundowns into quarter finals

CAF champions league 2020, group matches heating up last weekend as the men begin separating themselves from the boys, TP Mazembe and Mamelodi Sundowns already into the quarter finals, we shall be hav

CAF champions league 2020, group matches heating up last weekend as the men begin separating themselves from the boys, TP Mazembe and Mamelodi Sundowns already into the quarter finals, we shall be having the complete results of the CAF inter club competitions played across the continent .

In today’s show we have a litany of sports reporters across Africa who are on standby to file in results, updates and projections as we shall be taking you to Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast , Liberia and the Tanzanian leagues .

Customarily we take you to Europe where African players as the case will be every weekend scored goals in some of the top five European leagues, Aubameyang scored but was sent off on Saturday .

Ex-IAAF chief Lamine Diack vows to clear name as trial adjourns

The trial had been expected to detail evidence that Russian athletes paid millions of dollars to cover-up their suspected doping. This was to enable them compete at the Olympics in 2012 and other comp

Lamine Diack, the ex- IAAF president charged with corruption and doping cover-ups while he ran the track and field, has vowed to clear his name when his trial opened in Paris Monday.

At the opening of the hearing, the prosecution asked that the two-week trial be delayed to weigh new evidence received from Senegal, where Diack was born and his son, Papa Massata Diack, also charged in the case, lives, shielded from an international arrest warrant issued by France.

The court agreed, pushing back the trial to a later date, expected in June.

Addressing the court, Diack, 86, asked that in the wake of the delay, he be allowed to travel to Senegal to visit his elder brother, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday. Diack has not been allowed to leave France since his arrest in 2015. But he promised the court that he’d come back to France if allowed to travel, saying he wants to clear his name.

“I want to clear up all of this,” Diack said. “I will clean my honor.”

The court refused his request.

Leaving the hearing, Diack said: “I have a lot to say, but not now.”

The trial had been expected to detail evidence that Russian athletes paid millions of dollars to cover-up their suspected doping. This was to enable them compete at the Olympics in 2012 and other competitions.

Diack, who presided over the sport’s governing body for almost 16 years, is one of the accused recipients of the payments.

Prosecutors said they received the new evidence, three thick folders of notes that they held up in court, on Monday only hours before the hearing opened. They said it included statements that Papa Massata Diack made to investigators in Senegal and banking details from three of his consultancy firms.

Lamine Diack’s lawyer William Bourdon said delaying trial was bad for everyone. He pleaded for Diack to be allowed to leave France, saying: “This man will come back and explain himself.”

In refusing to lift the travel ban, the court noted that France wouldn’t be able to get Diack back from Senegal if he refused to return of his own accord, because the west African nation does not extradite its citizens.

Diack is being tried for corruption, money laundering and breach of trust. Prosecutors say he directly or indirectly solicited 3.45 million euros ($3.8 million) from athletes suspected by the IAAF of doping who paid to have their names cleared so they could continue competing.

Present in court were a lawyer who advised Diack, Habib Cisse, and a doctor, Gabriel Dolle, who oversaw drug-testing at the IAAF. He’s accused of taking payments to delay doping cases.

Two Russians are also being tried in absentia. They are Valentin Balakhnichev, a former IAAF treasurer, and Alexei Melnikov, a coach who led Russia’s long-distance running program.

AP

Tanzania superstar Diamond to build sports academy with E'too

Tanzania celebrated musician Nasib Abdul a.k.a Diamond Platnumz has said that he is in talks with International football star, Cameroonian footballer Samuel Eto’o to build a football academy in Tanzan

Tanzania celebrated musician Nasib Abdul a.k.a Diamond Platnumz has said that he is in talks with International football star, Cameroonian footballer Samuel Eto’o to build a football academy in Tanzania.

According to the report by Daily News the megastar recently performed at the CAF awards gala that got Fifa boss Gianni Infatino on the dance floor among football stars.

Diamond said he has been in talks with Eto’o for a long time now, interested in establishing a lucrative football club since the east African nation has potential football players.

Diamond is quoted to say “In the past, I though that venturing in sports business was not profitable but now I see that it is beneficial.. In the near future? I will have my own team which already is trading in the Mainland Premier League because I do not want to start from the scratch.”

The musician didn’t not give a time frame to the project but hwta is clear is that he will be buying an existing club or established player.

Picture courtesy