Gary Rowett has dismissed reports linking him to the managerial vacancies at Fulham and Queens Park Rangers and his reaffirmed his commitment to Birmingham City.The 41-year-old has been strongly linked to both jobs in London in recent weeks, following the dismissals of Kit Symons from Craven Cottage and Chris Ramey from Loftus Road earlier this month.But, with the Blues currently in fifth place and on course for a play-off place, Rowett insists he is focussed on the job in hand at St Andrew’s.Speaking to talkSPORT on the Weekend Sports Breakfast, the manager said: “It’s just the usual thing, if your team is doing well you get linked to other clubs. That’s normal and it’s just a sign of success, really.“They’re two excellent jobs with ex-Premier League sides, but I’m extremely focussed on what we’re trying to do at Birmingham City.“I actually think we’ve underperformed a little bit over the last three or four weeks, so I’m just focussed on improving here.”
Perfectly situated within Cape Town’s cultural quarter, Mandela Rhodes Place is a home away from home. This unique hotel and spa offers everything in one convenient location, offering a cosmopolitan experience of South Africa’s Mother City at its best. General manager Anja Bosken tells us more.Click arrow to play video.Posted on SouthAfrica.info on 4 August 2009.
Volunteering in South Africa is a richlyrewarding experience.(Image: Aviva) Volunteering is an increasingly popular form of responsible tourism, otherwise known as voluntourism, and in South Africa opportunities abound for those who wish to do good while they enjoy the local sights and sounds.Volunteering in South Africa falls into two main categories: community- or conservation-based. There is an abundance of worthwhile projects located across the country.Organisations such as Aviva, All Africa Volunteers, Cross-Cultural Solutions and i-to-i, to name a few, facilitate volunteering trips to the country. Most are based locally. Some run their own programmes, while others merely suggest volunteering options – either way, with projects already screened and selected, it could not be easier.Invaluable experienceVolunteering not only gives tourists an opportunity to experience the country as a useful member of the community, but offers a host of other priceless benefits: self-growth, tolerance and understanding of other people and other cultures, new skills and new friends.Many travellers have been able to settle on a career through insight gained while working as a volunteer.“When I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2004 I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life,” wrote Hallie Stover of her South African experience with Willing Workers in South Africa (WWISA). “When I found the WWISA website I knew that this place [South Africa] would change my life.”After her return home, Stover was inspired to go back to university, where she submitted a thesis based on her experience with HIV/Aids youth prevention programmes. She now has a Master’s degree in International Politics and Human Rights.Stephen Thornburgh of Ireland, 23, spent his time with Aviva’s six-week penguin rehabilitation project. He described it, in a testimonial, as a “unique experience”.“With the project itself you get to do pretty much everything from cleaning and feeding to giving medication and learning about penguins and other coastal birds … it was the greatest time of my life which was really made by the people you meet and the activities you can do, like safari and shark cage diving.”Volunteers leave a legacy in indirect ways too – as they explore the country outside of their project, their support of local businesses, crafters and tourism operators results in upliftment for families and the community.Volunteer organisations agree that pitching in to do something tangible is a far better approach than merely donating money, which can lead to reliance on aid, corruption and financial instability. Volunteers, by donating their time and energy, help to set up a sustainable solution that outlasts the short-term effects of financial donations.Nuts and boltsVolunteer fees vary between organisations. The average price is around US$528 to $660 (R4 000 to R5 000) per week, but this is an inclusive fee which covers all programme-related costs such as airport transfers, accommodation, meals and transport.In most cases, once the host organisation has deducted their expenses, the rest of the fee goes to a local charity.The duration also differs from project to project, but most offer a stay of between two weeks and three months. Individuals as well as groups can be accommodated. Volunteers are responsible for arranging their own travel documentation, but host organisations provide all the information required.WWISA oversees a number of short- (two weeks) and medium-term (three weeks or more) projects. Short-term projects range from building new houses and renovating old ones, to children’s camps and environmental programmes.Medium-term projects include teaching at a nearby primary school, assisting at a daycare facility, teaching English as a second language, and microorganic farming in community gardens.All Africa Volunteers, based in the Eastern Cape province, has a wider range of projects covering wildlife, marine, sport, community and cultural issues. A wildlife sanctuary, great white shark and dolphin research, penguin rescue, a community surfing school and a pre-school are just some of the choices on offer.The Volunteer Centre in Cape Town takes volunteers into the townships, where they work amongst impoverished communities. The organisation also arranges six-month youth exchange programmes in partnership with Mozambique-based Ajude and Canada World Youth.UK-based i-to-i offers a variety of volunteer tours, mostly involving community and wildlife work. These include teaching children to read or working in a children’s hospital, animal rescue, and helping raise lion cubs.A number of travel organisations offer their own programmes, such as Backpack and Africa Travel Centre, which runs a football coaching and teaching volunteer project, or Dyer Island Cruises which gives volunteers the chance to learn about shark conservation.These are just a sample of the rewarding tours on offer for those willing to devote a slice of their time to uplifting the lives of humans or animals.
29 January 2016Team South Africa has won the 2016 International Schools Moot Court competition, held in The Hague in Holland. The city is home to the United Nation’s International Court of Justice, headquartered in the Peace Palace, and the International Criminal Court.Team South Africa winner of Internaional Moot Court competition in #TheHague #pleaforpeace https://t.co/BMuCaVGHAK pic.twitter.com/rhlcxz8qMy— City of The Hague (@CityOfTheHague) January 22, 2016This year, the competition, held from 18 to 22 January, focused on the issue of crimes against humanity during a time of war.Out of the 11 other countries that participated in the competition – namely, Argentina, Bulgaria, Germany, Mongolia, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, St Martens, USA, and Venezuela – South Africa triumphed over Team USA in the final.The South African team comprised pupils from various schools ranging from rural to former model C schools. The successful team members were: Nthabiseng Mbatha, Simon Motsheweni, Paseka Selinyane, Claire Rankin, Clara-Marie Macheke, Katelyn Chettle and Shandre Smith.We are still celebrating the achievement of TeamSA for winning the 2016 International Schools Moot Court competition pic.twitter.com/srlxKijXKV— Dep. Basic Education (@DBE_SA) January 27, 2016“Contestants were given an opportunity to argue both as defender and complainant using international criminal law and treaties that are relevant to the International Criminal Court,” said the Department of Basic Education.“We take the opportunity to congratulate Claire Rankin and Clara-Marie Macheke from Springfield Convent in the Western Cape for taking the top spot at the International Schools Moot Court Competition at The Hague, after toppling Team USA.”The competition is usually presided over by the judges from the International Criminal Court. This year Judge Howard Morrison and Judge Raul Pangalangan chaired the debate.We also need to send a shout out to their mentors, law students for the University of Pretoria! pic.twitter.com/qo4QCJTPCs— Dep. Basic Education (@DBE_SA) January 27, 2016Source: Department of Basic Education
College football fans aren’t habituated to the rhythm of a playoff — at least not in the same way college basketball fans are before the NCAA tournament. But the games Saturday and the selection committee’s choices Sunday will determine the four teams that enter the first-ever college football playoff. FiveThirtyEight will be here throughout the weekend to update our forecast on which teams are most likely to make it.The math has become simpler after Oregon’s emphatic 51-13 victory Friday night against Arizona in the Pac-12 championship game. Instead of seven teams competing for four positions, there are now effectively five teams — Alabama, TCU, Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor — competing for three slots, with Oregon having secured its position and Arizona out of the running.Nothing’s official yet, but in this case, our statistical model aligns with common sense. Oregon, No. 2 in the selection committee’s rankings entering the weekend, made the playoff in all 20,000 simulations that we ran Saturday morning. Arizona, which now has three losses, never did. Here are the latest numbers:For comparison’s sake, here’s our forecast before the Pac-12 championship:It’s become crowded at the top. No. 1-ranked Alabama is an 82 percent favorite to beat Missouri in the SEC championship, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI). And the Crimson Tide are more likely than not to make the playoff even if they lose to Missouri.Third-ranked TCU probably won’t make the playoff if they lose to 2-9 Iowa State. But they’re 97 percent favorites to win the game, per FPI. Crazy things can happen in college football — but if the Cyclones win, it would be perhaps the most memorable college football upset since Appalachian State beat Michigan in 2007.For the time being, Oregon is the favorite to win the national championship, with a 37 percent chance of doing so. (Alabama may overtake the Ducks if they defeat Missouri, but Oregon’s dominance against Arizona is likely to impress FPI, as well as Vegas oddsmakers.)Oregon’s win is also modestly bad news for the teams ranked No. 5 and 6 entering the weekend, Ohio State and Baylor, because they now have one fewer opportunity to leapfrog other teams in the rankings. Ohio State’s probability of making the playoff dropped to about 30 percent from 35 percent after Oregon’s win; Baylor’s declined slightly, to about 16 percent from 18 percent.Still, Oregon’s gain came mostly at the expense of Arizona. The result wasn’t a total disaster for Ohio State and Baylor, in part because an Arizona win would have created a mess of its own. Arizona, No. 7 entering the weekend, would have had an argument for making the playoff if it beat Oregon. Oregon might have had an argument even with a loss.But Oregon won. Could the Ducks wind up with the No. 1 seed? They almost certainly will if Alabama loses to Missouri. Otherwise, they’ll probably stay at No. 2, according to the model. But the FiveThirtyEight model is calibrated based on a historical analysis of voting in the Coaches Poll. The playoff selection committee has been a bit more aggressive so far in promoting teams after dominant victories. Perhaps if Alabama wins clumsily against Missouri, the Ducks could overtake it. Either way, it was a happy Friday night in Eugene.
With only eight days remaining in the 2014-15 regular season, it’s time to check in on FiveThirtyEight’s NBA Power Ratings. If you’re wondering how these numbers work, the short version is that all 30 NBA teams are ranked according to a projection of their true talent over the upcoming week — and the upcoming week only — using Real Plus-Minus (RPM) player ratings provided by Jeremias Engelmann and Steve Ilardi. For more details on the methodology,1This week, we tweaked the simulation methodology to include the NBA’s official tie-breaking procedures. Before this week, we had been approximating tie breakers. see our introductory rankings post.The Eastern Conference playoff plot continues to thicken. Last Monday in this space, our model listed the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers with playoff probabilities of 76 percent and 50 percent, respectively, with the Brooklyn Nets (38 percent) and Boston Celtics (25 percent) likely to be on the outside looking in.Now, the tables have turned.The Celtics, aided by a 3-1 record over the past week (and an improved power rating), now sport a 57 percent playoff probability and more expected end-of-season wins than either Miami or Indiana. Likewise, the Nets leapfrogged the Pacers and Heat by an even greater margin after going 4-1 over the past week-plus. Brooklyn’s chances of making the playoffs are now nearly 77 percent, a radical departure from its 17 percent postseason probability of two weeks prior.And if Brooklyn and Boston are now in the driver’s seats for the final pair of Eastern Conference playoff berths, that means the Heat and Pacers are currently both underdogs to make the postseason. Miami has lost four straight games, and its power rating is down because several of its good RPM players (such as Luol Deng, Hassan Whiteside and Chris Andersen) are listed as day-to-day with injuries. And for its part, Indiana went 2-2 on the week-plus, but even at .500, the Pacers lost ground to the surging Celtics and Nets.The Heat have things a bit better than the Pacers. They face an easier remaining schedule, and the league’s tie-breakers favor them in the event of a tie with Boston and/or Brooklyn, which accounts for Miami’s superior playoff odds despite a projected win tally identical to that of Indiana. But for each team, it’s a big reversal from where they stood just a week ago.So while there’s little time left in the schedule, the Eastern Conference playoff picture is no clearer than it’s been the past few weeks — the front-runners to get in are just different.