Mancala

Today, if weather permits (and actual genuine spoiler, it looks like it won’t), I’ll be helping with recording a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest number of people playing Mancala at any one time.

What is Mancala? I hear you ask. This is Mancala (not, as Wikipedia first warns us, to be confused with mandala or Lake Manzala):

Mancala is one of the oldest known games to be played. Mancala is a generic name for a family of 2-player turn-based strategy board games played with small stones, beans, or seeds and rows of holes or pits in the earth, a board or other playing surface. The objective is usually to capture all or some set of the opponent’s stones, beans, etc. Versions of the game have been played for at least hundreds of years around the world.

It’s part of the kids’ school’s 20th Anniversary celebrations and I think it’s a great way to remember a special birthday year.

The students have made and decorated their own Mancala boards and learned how to play the game – which is no bad thing in itself, as this article tells us:

Because there’s a lot more to playing these games than just… well… playing these games:

The African continent has a long history of gameplay that extends back to pre-slavery and precolonial times. Board games, in particular, have been used to teach, or reinforce, values as well as cognitive and motor skills.

The list of requirements for a Guinness World Record attempt is unsurprisingly rather long and arduous, but the team at the school responsible for this attempt have got it all in hand. For my part, I’ll be taking Florence the Mavic up to record the fun from on high. I may have to hide her behind some trees to get some protection from the wind.

Having been desperate for rain for most of this year, the inevitable Whatsapp group set up to keep us informed with the latest updates is ironically suddenly filled with prayers for dry weather for this morning. It’s not looking promising, but we’re going to give it a go anyway – the fourth term calendar is too full to easily accept a postponement.

Wish us luck – and maybe watch out for some of my aerial footage illustrating a new World Record  for South Africa in the 2020 GWR Book.

The UEFA Nations League

I tried to understand what a UEFA Nations League is and how it worked.

Firstly, I went to the UEFA website: horse’s mouth and all that. And then, when my brain exploded thanks to lines like this:

Due to excessive travel restrictions, any group could not contain a maximum of one of these pairs: Andorra & Kazakhstan, Faroe Islands & Kazakhstan, Gibraltar & Kazakhstan, Gibraltar & Azerbaijan

I asked online for assistance, which came in the form of a link from The Guru. Thanks, The Guru.

Because yes, Football365 seem to have done a good job in attempting to simplify a rather complex format. And am I alone in thinking that UEFA might actually be onto something here? It actually looks quite good.

And there’s more great news for me too: Supersport – who failed to secure the rights for the English League Cup or the Championship – have managed to scrape some cash together to buy some UEFA Nations League goodness.

Tonight kicks off (quite literally) with the following fixtures:

Kazakhstan v Georgia
SS3 HD (4pm)

Armenia v Liechtenstein
SS3 HD (6pm)

Wales v Rep. Ireland
SS6 HD (8.45pm)

Germany v France
SS3 HD (8.45pm)

Slovenia v Bulgaria
SS11 HD (8.45pm)

Czech Republic v Ukraine
SS7 HD (8.45pm)

I know what I’ll be doing at 1800.

French unlucky to lose rugby game

News in from our rugby correspondent, who was at a wet and windy Moses Mabhida Stadium over the weekend to watch the Sharks play a friendly against a visiting French side from Bordeaux:

The Durban side edged a tight game 19-17 leaving the French coach, Entraîneur de Chiens, disappointed at the result of a game he thought they could have won if only his side had listened to him and followed basic instructions.

Instead, his fifteen players scattered across the pitch, chasing each other and the boerewors rolls sellers in the stands. One was seen having a really good scratch in the tunnel, while two others were found snoozing in the dug out.

It’s been the same since we went with this stupid name change

de Chiens complained.

We used to be a tight, organised, disciplined squad. Now I can’t get them to even sit, stay or listen to me. The only time they feign any interest in what I have to say is when I’m holding some food. It’s been a disaster and we need to think of calling ourselves something far more obedient.

he said, before shouting at the left winger, who was in the changing room, chewing a sock.

The fightback starts now

That sounds ever so dramatic, doesn’t it?

See, the problem is that I have one big leg and one small leg. Not in length – I’ve just checked and they both reach all the way down to the floor. The trouble is that the muscles in one of them have atrophied completely away to nothing.

Let’s cut to the chase.

I had a routine, minor knee op in February. I had it on a Friday morning. I was meant to be back at work on the Monday.

Things didn’t go as planned and I ended up having a second emergency operation ten days later and spending two months off work. What has followed has been a tale of pain, expensive medication, frustration and regular general grumpiness. It’s been incredibly limiting. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’m the most unfit that I have ever been and I’ve been unable to do any meaningful exercise to try to put things right.

Until now.

I was given the green light by the surgeon to get in moving a little while ago. Walking is “ok”, while running is (quite literally) a non-starter. Cycling is apparently the way to get things started again. The trouble is that cycling around our area requires going up hills and that’s (again, quite literally) a real pain. I need flatness.

Gym was the obvious answer, but really, where does one find the time? I mean, have you seen my weekends? (If not, there are examples here and here.)
And if you don’t go to the gym often enough, your special price for gym membership disappears and you have to pay full price and really, where does one find the money?

So I’ve made some lifestyle changes which are due to kick in real soon now. They will allow me more time to attend the gym and make things right. As an example, I did a whole 16.4km on the bike today. And while that might not sound like much, it’s more than twice what I did on (the flat) Sea Point Prom on the public holiday yesterday and an infinite amount more than I’ve been able to do for the past six months.

Realistically, I’m not sure that I will ever get back to where I was before. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to give it a damn good go.

The fightback begins now.

Draft night update

Last night was a lot of fun. Bit of a depressing drive home, if I’m honest, but I guess you can’t have everything.

Reality is a bummer, hey?

I ended up with some players from top clubs like Spurs, Liverpool, Man City, and a few from the also-rans like ManU, Chelsea and Arsenal.

My cosmopolitan team features some top names from three continents, and is ready to lose play its first match this weekend.

There was actually more interest in this than I thought (basically one person sent an email), so here’s the starting squad for the Regal Beagles on Fantrax.

Shotstoppers:
Hugo Lloris
Fabri

Big D:
Serge Aurier
Leighton Baines
Stephan Lichtensteiner
Ashley Young
Danilo

Midfield Maestros:
David Brooks
Fabinho
Jorginho
Riyad Mahrez
Jack Wilshere
Pedro

Up Top:
Laurent Depoitre
Firmino
Kelechi Iheanacho

On paper, I think it looks like a pretty decent team.
Sadly though, I’ve just been informed that most of the games this season will be played on grass, not paper.

I still have high hopes ready to be dashed.