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Archive for the ‘sport’ Category

Parents of addicted video gamers can stop worrying. Their children are the future business leaders of tomorrow. 

Katja Goebel, Mervyn Govender and Steve Drake came to this conclusion in a paper written as part of their MBA studies at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business last year (The Star, Business Report, 31 October 2007). 

The authors’ research reveals that far from being mind-numbing, meaningless entertainment, video games are actually problem solving exercises packaged in fantasy adventure scenarios. They point out that the strategy involved in most of these games revolves around collaboration and communication, and that gamers are required to be creative and intuitive if they want to achieve success.

Computer gamers

In addition, computer games teach by trial and error illustrating, most effectively through play, that failure is a necessary part of achieving success. The authors believe that as a result of this, this generation of computer gamers will be more willing to take risks and have more entrepreneurial ability. 

Massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) played over the Internet by millions of players are also providing massive learning platforms that further emphasise the benefits of teamwork and communication. By making use of players’ best abilities and sharing knowledge, gamers experience for themselves the advantages of teamwork and peer learning (see Army of Darkness). 

John Beck, co-author of the book “Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever”, believes that this generation of video gamers is going to have a major impact on businesses and their perception of teamwork and business strategy.  

But why let the video gamers inherit the earth.

Many children are bored out of their minds at school with old-fashioned teaching methods. Why not spark their interest by incorporating gaming technologies into the curriculum as learning tools? Why not let children learn about natural science and maths by playing computer games?  

What better motivation to get your questions right, than by being allowed to move onto the next level and have a little fun.

Photo credit
Clare van Zwieten

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Excitement hit South Africa in a big way last week when the Springboks made it into the finals of the 2007 Rugby World Cup. 

Callers to radio shows were full of contagious delight about South Africa making it into the finals of rubgy’s ultimate competition. Acknowledging this unifying excitement, in a country where we often spend our time moaning about crime and corruption, Radio 702 called on Springbok supporters to upload photos of themselves onto the 702 website. In no time there were pages and pages of photos on their website showing Springbok supporters of all ages, sexes, sizes and colours dressed in the green and gold colours of South African rugby.  

There were photos of tiny babies wearing rugby jerseys, photos of school pupils from a variety of schools, work colleagues, family groups and friends decked in green and gold as well as photos of President Thabo Mbeki wearing a springbok rugby jersey and waving a South African flag.  

Even the doyen of South African real estate, Pam Golding, came to the party gracing a full page advert in the Saturday Star with her face painted in the colours of the South African flag. People had South African flags mounted on their cars, green and gold tinsel tied to their car door handles, and a house down the road had a light decoration on at night, flashing the words “Bokke” to passersby. People were certainly letting their hair down and it was great to feel like one people and one nation again. 

Nothing could beat what this family did though, they spray painted their sheep green and gold. 

Springbok rugby sheep

Radio 702 contributed further to the Springbok fervour by loading the words to Nkosi Sikelele, and Shosholoza onto their website and provided an inspiring selection of audio clips including the Zulu version of the Haka; the gameplan for the final – give the ball to Brian; an Afrikaans ode to Brian Habana; Leon Schuster singing “Hier kom die Bokke”; and Johnny Clegg’s Impi. A wonderful eclectic mix reflecting what it is to be a rugby supporter in today’s South Africa. Listen here 

The fervour from fans gradually increased with a spontaneous decision by many supporters to wear green and gold to school, work and play on Friday the 19 October 2007. On the way into work that morning, my kids and I took great delight in yelling out green, every time we passed green-clad supporters.  

At work, normally a bastion of industrious endeavour, everyone was wearing some element of green and or gold on their person. And later that evening while attending a performance at the Barnyard Theatre, one of the performers stripped off to show his springbok rugby jersey underneath his costume. 

Finally Saturday came, and despite having no liking for the game whatsoever I donned a lime green shirt and headed off to a friend’s house to support our players. The rest of the country had come down with Springbok fever and I had come down with a touch of it myself.  

South Africa won the game decisively and I was mightily impressed with Percy Montgomery and his ability to look like Prince Charming during the roughest of play. His elegant leap over the boundary boards into a TV camera, when shoved by an English player, was delightfully executed. The man is amazing to look at and he played awesomely too.

Photo credit
Irene Blythe

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South Africa’s Bern Goosen has conquered Mount Kilimanjaro in a wheelchair, again. 

A wheel chair bound quadriplegic, Bern is the only person to have ascended Mount Kilimanjaro in a wheelchair. He is also the only person to have successfully climbed the mountain in a wheelchair twice.

Mount Kilimanjaro

View Google satellite image of Mount Kilimanjaro’s summit

I met Bern at a press conference at the Innovation Hub announcing this 2007 expedition to climb Kilimanjaro. Looking at him sitting on his wheelchair, a modified bicycle, I wondered how he would manage to climb Africa’s highest mountain. I had been expecting Bern to have a muscular, well-built upper body, to compensate for his inability to walk. His small and wiry frame, confined to a wheel chair, did not inspire any confidence in his ability to climb mountains.

Later when Bern demonstrated his mountain climbing prowess up a koppie on the grounds of the Innovation Hub in Pretoria, his incredibly slow, painstaking progress made me certain he was aiming for the impossible.  

If I had been asked to put money on Bern making it to the top of the koppie in Pretoria, let alone up 5895 metres to Africa’s highest peak, I would not have put any money on him. It was only when I reminded myself that this incredible man had already conquered the mountain in 2003, and had almost summited in 2005, that I had to open my mind to a new possibility.

 

My brain really struggled with processing the information that Bern’s excruciatingly slow, progress up the rocky incline, if repeated for long enough, would be sufficient to get him to the top of a mountain. Gradually I realised that it would be guts and determination that would be taking Bern to the top of Kilimanjaro, and it had been those same qualities, which had taken him up on his previous attempts. 

Confined to a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy, Goosen can in no way be accused of allowing his bodily limitations to restrict his life. A qualified accountant and a motivational speaker (see his website Get Motivated), Bern seeks to help people conquer their own mountains, imaginary or real. 

Bern’s successful expedition to Africa’s highest peak this year, was via the Rongai Route covering a total distance of 27,1 km.  The expedition, which started on 9 October 2007, saw Bern reaching the summit after 6 days, 3 hours and 20 minutes beating his 2003 successful summit record of 9 days. The average able-bodied person does the climb in three to four days depending on the chosen route, while the world record holders for the fastest ascent do it in a matter of hours. 

(To follow Bern and his team’s 2007 journey up Mount Kilimanjaro, view Yellow.TV’s  footage of the expedition – Click here)

Bern’s first successful climb of Kilimanjaro was not officially recognised as a world record due to record authorities having no way of establishing whether he had complied with the strict rules governing record attempts.  

In wheelchair mountain ascents it is assumed that the person trying for the record has to receive assistance over some of the climb due to rough terrain being impassable by wheelchair, however as long as it is no more than 10% of the distance traveled, the climber can claim to have summited the mountain unassisted. At present Bern is awaiting official confirmation of his world record. (For more details go to: Record Attempt) 

A second attempt on the mountain failed in 2005 with Bern only reaching the second highest point on the mountain, Gilman’s Point, before succumbing to altitude sickness. A television crew from Carte Blanche covered his journey and beamed the story of his failure into the homes of many South Africans.  

(See Carte Blanche’s TV footage of Bern’s reaction to his failure to summit in 2005 at: www.badongo.com/vid/507214 )

This did not deter Bern from his goal of winning a well-deserved place in the Guinness Book of Records. Instead he set about getting another expedition together that would be verified by officials from the bodies overseeing world records of this nature. This week saw him achieve his dream and while he recovers in hospital suffering from exhaustion, all his supporters wait anxiously to hear whether the Guinness Book of Record will give him his due. 

Congratulations Bern. Thank you for providing me with the motivation to fulfill my own dream of climbing Kilimanjaro.

Related links
World Record for Kilimanjaro Wheelchair Climb Smashed!
Bern Goosen’s website – Get Motivated
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Where is Kilimanjaro? 

Photo credits
Mount Kilimanjaro – Gerard D. Hertel, West Chester University, United States
Slideshow photos – Clare van Zwieten

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South Africa’s top three computer gamers have won national colours for playing computer games. 

The computer gamers came top in the Amateur Gamers Association of South Africa (Agasa) roadshow held at the rAge 2007 expo where they competed against 1500 gamers vying for top honours including the Battlefield 2142 competition prize of R32 000.  

National colours for computer gamers

Pictured from left to right are Imi Mosaheb, AMD Country Manager; Peter van Nieuwenhuizen; Mitchell Tasic and Trevor Herselman (Photo courtesy of AMD). 

Traditionalists like John Robbie will be curling up their toes at the thought of players of computer games being granted an honour normally reserved for sportsmen and women in recognised old-school sports such as rugby, soccer, swimming, and running. Sports where you have to physically exert yourself and train for hours everyday.  

But who says computer gamers don’t exert themselves both mentally and physically? Who says computer gamers don’t spend hours training?

The time for complaining is too late though. South Africa became the first country in the world to recognise computer gaming as a national sport back in August 2006. This achievement or travesty, depending on your viewpoint, was made possible via the efforts of Agasa, which was established back in 2005 with the intention of making it possible for South African gamers to become eligible for provincial and national colours. 

Aside from the gaming roadshow, this year’s rAge expo showcased the latest in computer hardware, games and accessories, console gaming as well as alternative gaming such as trading card games and board games and much more. People attending the expo ranged from serious computer gamers to families making the most of the opportunity to play some of the hottest new gaming titles including the much talked about Wii. The slideshow below provides some highlights of rAge 2007.

Photo credit
Clare van Zwieten

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The Wonder Cave certainly lives up to its name. Only open to the public since 1991, the cave consists of a huge chamber the size of a rugby field with wondrous stalagmite and stalactite formations. Situated in the Lion and Rhino Park on the northwestern outskirts of Johannesburg, it is certainly worth a visit. 

You enter the Wonder Cave by walking down a steep, long flight of stairs to the elevator shaft (see slide show). Then you can either take the cage elevator down into the chamber or you can take the adventurous route, as we did, and abseil down into the cave.  

We hit upon this novel way of entering the Wonder Caves in the quest for a “cool” birthday party for my son Sam. Needless to say Sam went off first without a trace of fear, thrilling at this adrenaline-packed method of entering the cave. Sitting waiting my turn amongst a dozen twelve-year-old boys didn’t do my nerves any good. I am not a cool customer who thrills at opportunities to risk my neck. 

Eventually my turn came. I was harnessed up and made my way nervously to the edge of the lift shaft. I turned my back to the looming darkness beyond the small platform and listened as Mark Gray our instructor attached me to various ropes with metal links and gave instructions. I have abseiled only once before and my brain was not relishing the up coming debate between it and my super-strong self-protective tendencies. 

Very slowly I inched backwards to the very edge of the ledge and gradually let the rope catch my weight. I leant out into the darkness as the adrenaline in my body surged and my brain entered into its anticipated debate. And then without the hesitation of my previous abseiling experience, I let go and descended into the cave. I barely had time to register the risk when my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness and the wonders of the cave lay exposed for me to see. I tried to descend as slowly as possible as the beauty and extent of the stark, natural formations revealed themselves  

Reaching the safety of ground was a non-event. My body went through the motions of unharnessing itself from the abseiling equipment, while my brain froze up overwhelmed by the scenery around me. The excited chatter of the boys soon broke the spell though and it was back to the business at hand. Who was coming down next? 

Once we had all completed our abseil, a tour guide took us around the cave and explained the various limestone formations. It is amazing to think that many of the delicate-looking, million-year-old creations actually weigh several tons. We heard the tale of the Italians who originally discovered the cave in the 1890s and mined it illegally for limestone. And how they hadn’t known the actual extent of the cave because they had had to mine it in darkness – lanterns couldn’t be used in the cave due to the lack of oxygen.  

Our guide told us how the entrance to the cave was “lost” for many years after this, until the new owner of the farm went walking in the veld with his son who kicked a rock into a hole. They both listened for the echo of the falling rock and were astounded at how long it took for them to hear the rock finally fall. Their curiosity led to further exploration and the rediscovery of the cave. Much later they discovered the hole that the falling rock had made in the base of one of the huge stalagmites. 

Many questions and “Oohs!” and “Aahs!” later, our tour came to a close. Reluctantly we made our way towards the exit and crammed ourselves into the lift cage. A minute or so later we were back at our abseiling ledge looking up at the never-ending stairs leading towards daylight.

Photo credits
Clare van Zwieten (Sadly my camera didn’t have the flash strength to take photos of the cave formations.They all came out black.)

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Fires in the Kruger National Perk In August, I travelled up to the Kruger National Park to run the Skukuza half-marathon. While I was there a visitor decided it was his duty to set fire to the Kruger National Park. It was quite an experience driving through a burning game reserve…
click here to read…Running Wild  

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I headed off to the World Cup T20 cricket match between South Africa and the West Indies for my first experience of live cricket yesterday evening.

Despite leaving early, we sat in traffic for ages. Eventually we reached the Corlett Drive turnoff only to be told that that section of the road had just that minute been closed off. I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning this but Ali Bacher was in the car next to us and he was not being let through by the Metro cops either!  We thought he’d definitely be someone who could drive right up to the stadium and slip into an allocated parking bay. (Click here to view Google hybrid map to Wanderers Stadium)

We finally found parking several kilometres away and joined the masses walking to the Wanderers. There were no hold-ups entering the stadium, not even at the tables where they searched our cooler bags for illicit substances like cold drinks. Organisation and crowd control definitely scored 10 out of 10.

Our contraband of Coke and Sprite (we didn’t know you weren’t allowed to bring them in) unintentionally made it past the security checks and we managed to sip on them surreptiously during the game. (I really hate that you cannot bring your own cold drinks into the stadium and are forced to buy a limited range from the appointed vendors. I like what I like and I don’t think anyone should have the right to force me to drink something else. Corporate greed taken too far is what I think.) 

Emma and Sam crammed on the grandstandBack to the cricket…we walked all the way around the stadium and headed for our seats. I was determined to enjoy my first international cricket match – until I saw our seats.

I was slightly dismayed at first to see I would be sitting on a grandstand and not an actual chair, and was even more dismayed when I realised that I was going to be leaning against the legs of the person behind me and the person in front of me was going to be doing the same to me.

By the time the grandstand filled up, we were crammed in like passengers in a rush-hour minibus taxi. Five hours of sitting like this was no joke.  Everyone in the grandstands jumped up and cheered at every opportunity just to get their blood circulation going again. 

Apparently the game was great but I didn’t realise this because I was entering the third phase of this shocking experience… 

Matchstick men. Which one's Herschelle?

The teams came onto the field and started to play. They looked like little green and maroon matchstick men and I had no idea who was who. There was no zooming in to see the tension on the various faces. No nice replays to see what had happened when I was looking elsewhere. No commentary to let me know what was going on. No convenient information bar on the screen, just below the players, to let me know the score and the required run rate.

Sure they have all the game info on the big screens at the stadium but that involves looking away from the game to see the screen, which means of course that something happens on the field and all the grandstandees leap up to unnumb their compressed bums and legs. 

Next were the endless breaks in play while umpires made decisions and players fiddled with their equipment. Seeing as there was no speculative commentary or interesting close up headshots of the teams, my gaze would wonder over the crowd.

Enviously I eyed the spectators sitting comfortably in their boxes, while I waited for the action to start. Minutes later I would glance down at the matchstick men and realise that they had resumed play ages ago and we were an over or two further along in the game. 

The bloody ball was also impossible to keep track of. I’d hear the wack of wood against ball and see the fielders tearing off to some far flung corner and just as the ball was caught, I’d finally manage to locate it. Give me a nice camera shot following the ball on TV any day. Needless to say, my family wrote me off as a complete philistine while they roared their approval of their team.

Cricket lover in his elementThey love watching the game live saying it gives them a sense of the whole game (I need the commentary for this). They say it’s great to see all the field placings at once (big deal) and to know where all your favourite players are (the TV does this for you perfectly). They also love the atmosphere and the crowd support for the SA boys (I can’t deny this). Being at the stadium we also got to see some poor streaker make it 20 metres out onto the pitch before a burly gang of officials leapt on him and dragged him off (TV viewers didn’t get to see this). 

Tonight watching the Zimbabweans playing the Australians was much more my can of Sprite. I lay on my back on the couch, my legs stretched as far as I possibly could. The commentators’ voices were music to my ears, and the close up shots of the players and that elusive ball were a dream come true. If only I had had this yesterday, when Chris Gayle and Herschelle Gibbs were smacking balls all over the place.  

I harped on for ages about how this was the way to watch cricket, while my husband and kids stared disdainfully at me. When it started raining I gloated some more about being warm and dry and stretched further out on my couch. When play resumed the mood lightened as we watch breathlessly, hoping that the Zimbabweans would come through and beat the Aussies.

My gloating came back to haunt me though as the link between the Cape Town studio and the main TV studio went down and crucial moments of play involving the Zimbabwean’s up-set victory were lost. I kept very quiet as dark resentful eyes glared at me… 

Photo credits
Clare van Zwieten

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