Tech Education, Volunteerism and Re-Imagining the Classroom

first_imgCo-authored by Erica HessUsing technology and the internet introduces young people to new ideas and the skills they’ll need to compete in the global workforce. But for far too many youth, the web’s world of possibilities still remains out of reach.Around the world, rural living and poverty, poor infrastructure and health issues, and limited education all present barriers to accessing and using technology. Many young people can’t afford or access a school, and if they can that school may lack clean water, let alone computers.Dell’s newest solar-powered Learning Lab outside of Bogotá, Colombia.That’s why Dell is reimagining the traditional classroom model as we work toward our Legacy of Good goal of applying our expertise and technology to help underserved and underrepresented youth grow and thrive. Working with our 62 local Youth Learning partners in 15 countries, we assess each community’s unique barriers to accessing technology and then develop creative solutions to overcome them. Our local team members also volunteer with these organizations, amplifying the impact of our Youth Learning programs.I’ve had the opportunity to witness some of the challenges these communities face first-hand, in my role as Dell’s Director of Global Giving, as well as in my own travels to emerging countries. Before leading the Giving team, I was focused on growing Dell’s global Cloud Services business. Today, I see how Dell’s technology, combined with our Youth Learning programs and our team members’ expertise, make a real, positive impact on kids who otherwise would not be very prepared for our 21st century, digital world.I would like to share some examples of this impact with you.Let’s start with our record-breaking past year.In FY16, Dell set three major community service records. We logged 811,000 hours of volunteer time, team members from 66 countries volunteered, and our service positively impacted 26,000 charities worldwide—our highest annual totals since we started tracking volunteerism in 2006.Volunteering helps team members gain new skills and insights they can use in service to our customers. In fact, one of our most successful giving endeavors—our solar-powered Dell Learning Labs—started as an idea from a Dell volunteer.In many developing countries people still lack affordable, reliable electricity. In Nigeria, South Africa, and Colombia, we’ve bypassed this issue by creating 11 solar-powered Dell Learning Labs. The labs are housed in well-lit, well-ventilated shipping containers outfitted with solar panels, a steady Internet connection, an air-cooled server, and Dell Wyse™ thin clients. This solution uses less than 4 percent of the energy of a typical PC.Dell Learning Labs have become a community fixture where students can progress from basic computer literacy to graphics and coding under the instruction of Dell’s local Youth Learning partners. Dell volunteers have worked onsite at these labs to install equipment, provide training to teachers, and more.Dell volunteers also offer support to our Youth Learning partners virtually. Lori Manrique-Hyland’s story shows how this can work:Manrique-Hyland was looking for an opportunity to volunteer with her Dell team, but was challenged by family and career commitments that made for packed days. So she and her employer came up with an idea: give her time and talents right from her desk and during work hours.“I work from home and I wanted an opportunity to give in a meaningful way – but virtually, and I knew other people I work with want the same. We’re in Beijing, Ireland, and Brazil,” Manrique-Hyland says.Manrique-Hyland launched Dell’s virtual mentoring pilot program with our partners, Sci-Bono, who manages some of the Dell solar-powered Learning Labs in South Africa.Through phone calls, video chats and emails, Lori and other Dell volunteers from around the world mentored Sci-Bono’s teachers to help them enhance their technology skills.“Now, giving your time and talents from your office is another way to volunteer. At the other end of virtual mentoring are people you are truly helping,” she says.To help our partners more—virtually—my team is now working to make sure our community service strategy will provide Dell team members with more virtual, skills-based opportunities.By tailoring our solutions to each community we serve, Dell has helped 1.6 million underserved youth gain access to technology and education since our FY14, almost half way to our goal of benefiting 3 million by 2020.  Examples include the following:In rural Morocco, both connectivity and distance are barriers to educating youth. There we work with our partner Bayti to bring a mobile IT Caravan – a bus outfitted with a Dell technology lab – to remote villages. Dell employees also serve as facilitators to help community members learn how to use technology.In India—where over 1.2 billion people compete for jobs—our Youth Learning partner, Learning Links Foundation, is leveraging Dell tablets and cloud computing to provide educational programs to over 72,000 students across India, many with parents who bring in less than $100 a month. In 2014, more than 3,400 Dell team members volunteered at schools, creating a more interactive learning environment through activities such as classroom makeovers. Additionally, team members used their volunteer rewards (charitable contributions they receive from Dell for volunteering) to fund the installation of solar panels at two schools.It’s an exciting time for Dell. Our culture of giving is making work life at Dell and people’s lives around the world—better. My colleague Jenn Friday Jones, Global Employee Engagement Manager, sums it up well:“Volunteering, personally, gives me the ability to impact people and communities that I may not have ever met or helped before. It opens your heart and mind to others and the selfless act of giving back. It’s therapeutic – everyone should try volunteering. It’s good for the soul!”To learn about other ways Dell’s Legacy of Good goals are paying off for customers, communities and the planet, visit www.dell.com/legacyofgoodupdate.Dell is committed to using technology to improve the lives of young people. Learn more at dell.com/youthlearninghttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMMqdv6cSXQlast_img read more

Hotcha! Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Will Razzle Dazzle ‘Em in Chicago at The Hippodrome

first_imgShe’s trading in politics for all that jazz! Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will take the stage in an “unprecedented act of courage” when she joins the cast of the national tour of Chicago on March 4 at The Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center. This will be the first time a city mayor will join the cast on stage! The classic John Kander and Fred Ebb musical will run from March 3 through March 8. Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, Chicago is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who maliciously murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headline, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids. View Comments “I am honored to be the first mayor to appear in Chicago—one of the most historic shows in Broadway history—and I want to reassure the cast and crew that I am already hard at work rehearsing my lines,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake, in a statement. “I always love to show off the ‘razzle dazzle’ of Baltimore’s flourishing cultural scene, from expanding our Arts & Entertainment Districts, to growing Baltimore’s downtown theater corridor and, all that jazz.  I cannot wait to make my big debut in an amazing show like Chicago” “We are delighted that Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will be making a special appearance in Chicago,” said Alecia Parker, a producer for the show. “Her passion and advocacy for the arts is equaled by her desire to bring quality entertainment to Baltimore, specifically to The Hippodrome Theatre, which is a premier U.S. destination. The Chicago cast is thrilled to be sharing the stage with her.”last_img read more

Half-time: QPR 1 Charlton Athletic 0

first_imgCharlie Austin’s cracking goal lit up what had been a lacklustre first half at Loftus Road.The QPR forward struck five minutes before the break, hitting the corner of the net with a glorious 30-yard shot – his eighth goal of the season.Rangers had plenty of possession early on, with Niko Kranjcar firing over the Charlton bar before Addicks keeper Ben Hamer saved low shots from Austin and Gary O’Neil.And Hamer dived to his right to keep out Matt Phillips’ 20-yarder just after the half-hour mark.Highly-rated midfielder Jordan Cousins tested R’s keeper Rob Green with a long-range effort shortly before Austin opened the scoring in emphatic fashion.Rangers are without winger Junior Hoilett, who failed a fitness test on an ongoing hamstring problem, but Jermaine Jenas was passed fit following a similar injury.Defender Luke Young, whose hip condition means he has not played for the first team since March 2012, was named among the substitutes.QPR (4-4-1-1): Green; Simpson, Dunne, Hill, Assou-Ekotto; Phillips, Barton, Jenas, Kranjcar; O’Neil; Austin.Subs: Murphy, Traore, Johnson, Wright-Phillips, Onyemu, Henry, Young.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 Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Siyabonga Africa helps people get back up

first_imgThe organisation’s two biggest entrepreneurial programmes, bakeries and poultry farming are aimed at combatting unemployment while helping to improve food security. (Images: Siyabonga Africa, via Facebook)South Africa is constantly making efforts to push back and reduce the effects of poverty and unemployment. That they are still such critical concerns highlights the need for change and the need for South Africans to take action to help the growth and development of underprivileged residents.With this in mind Siyabonga Africa, a non-profit organisation in Brakpan, Gauteng, has been working to lessen the effects of poverty on the underprivileged and arm them with the skills and resources they need to improve their standing.The organisation began in the 1980s with a feeding scheme established by Ronald and Yvonne Dell on the East Rand, with the help of community leaders in the area. It included the distribution of donated clothing and help in restoring families that had been torn apart by poverty.Their efforts continued to gather momentum and in 2004 the Siyabonga Africa development centre was established in hopes of addressing the shortage of skills and jobs in the surrounding community.“We look for people who put their hands up instead of their hands out, and we aim to nurture an entrepreneur’s spirit that does have an impact for years to come,” says Nathan Dell, the chairman of Siyabonga Africa.In 2004 the Siyabonga Africa development centre was established in hopes of addressing the shortage of skills and jobs.PROGRAMMESFor more than a decade the organisation has focused the bulk of its efforts on entrepreneurship programmes through which it works to impart knowledge that is key to starting and running sustainable businesses.The organisation’s two biggest entrepreneurial programmes are bakeries and poultry farming. They look to combat unemployment while helping to improve food security. The bakery programme has led to the establishment of more than 300 bakeries across the country and almost 2 000 jobs.“Our poultry farming programme is a very exciting one because it’s one of the small to medium enterprises with the highest growth potential in South Africa,” says Dell. “We offer a business management course that is an introduction to business fundamentals which are specific to poultry farming.”Siyabonga Africa also has the largest food bank and distribution centre in the province, he says, which feeds thousands of people each month. In addition, the organisation has a temporary housing project aimed at helping individuals and families in a transition phase or in between places.“We also have an advice desk where we help people get all their legal documents in order and help them get into the mainstream economy.”The group gives unskilled people a launch pad or platform from which they can build themselves up and go on to become self-sufficient members of society. In turn, these people are then in a position to go on and help others who are in similar situations fulfil their potential.PLAY YOUR PARTAre you playing your part to help improve the lives of the people around you or the environment? Do you know of anyone who has gone out of their way to help improve South Africa and its people?If so, submit your story or video to our website and let us know what you are doing to improve the country for all.last_img read more

Eastern Cape roadworks uncover unique fossil treasure trove

first_imgThe South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) announced that the fossils werediscovered in rock debris during construction work on the Eastern Cape N2 highway,close to Grahamstown.Treasure trove of fossils unearthed by roadworks near Grahamstown https://t.co/CDuLQsWeJr #palaeontologyvia @News24 pic.twitter.com/aoS2rpXKDM— NRFSouth Africa (@NRF_News) June 1,2016Uncovered during controlled rock cutting explosions, the find, including preserved plant fossils and a number of new invertebrates, has now been quickly excavated for further analysis, according to Sanral environmental manager Mpati Makoa.“To advance scientific discourse and original research contributions of South African palaeontology and heritage scholars, we made provision in the environmentalmanagement programme for specialist examination and excavation of rock debris,”Makoa told News24.The specimens were examined by palaeontologist Dr Robert Gess of Grahamstown’s Albany Museum, an environmental consultant for Sanral. Gess called the discovery “substantial” because many of the species “have not yet been documented by palaeontologists”.The fossils also include examples of marine life dating back 360-million years, a period known as the Devonian era, when South Africa – and Africa – was joined with South America, Australia and Antarctica to form the Gondwana supercontinent.Gess said the plant and invertebrate fossil discoveries were from an ancient river mouth ecosystem. This environment made them distinct from fossil specimens discovered in 2013 at the nearby closed lagoon ecosystem of Waterloo Farm.“The discovery is significant as paleontological research and scholarship on marineecosystems of the Devonian period was primarily anchored in the fossil discoveries of Waterloo Farm,” he said. “Now, we are able to trace a much broader picture of life along an ancient coastline through the discovery of new plant and invertebrate species.”The N2 discoveries include a shrub sized Iridopterid plant, a number of lycopods and Zosterophylopsid plants. More significant is the complete specimen of an Archaeopteris notosaria tree was also collected, which Gess calls “the best preserved fertile material of this ancient tree” on record.Among the newly discovered marine invertebrate fossils is a new species of bivalve or mud clams. It is vastly different from those previously discovered at Waterloo Farm, a mere 20 kilometres away, and may provide some answers about the prehistory of the area.Gess said cooperation between the roads agency and the palaeontology community has a long history in uncovering fossil-rich areas.Infrastructure development since the late 1980s had significantly shaped South African palaeontology research and studies, he said. This has “enabled discovery of the clues to virtually everything we know about high latitude latest Devonian life, not just in South Africa, but in the world”.The new find, and previous discoveries at Waterloo Farm, make the area an important global palaeontological hub.Steven Robertson, Sanral’s project manager on the N2 Grahamstown to Fish River, said preservation and public education were now a priority. “When we first met Dr Gess and he explained significant fossil finds, we thought how can we best preserve and allow public access to this to ensure it becomes general knowledge of what was in this area millions and millions of years ago?” he saidTo promote the discoveries and the region in general, Sanral is planning to incorporate an observation area in the completion of the N2 project.The roads agency, Robertson said, is converting the road design to accommodate a rest area that can be used as a picnic area. “We will be including information boards and displays on the significance of the fossils, their age how they fit into the evolutionary history of earth.”Source: News24last_img read more

Emotional Sharath keeps his promise to coach

first_imgOlympian Achanta Sharath Kamal came back strongly after a shocking 3-4 singles semi-final loss and the lanky Indian says it was a promise that inspired him to shrugg off the disappointment to claim the men’s doubles table tennis gold for the country in the Commonwealth Games, here today.”Basically, it was a promise I wanted to keep. The promise was between me and team coach Bhawani Mukherjee that we would play the national anthem at the hall today. I am so happy to keep my words,” an emotional Sharath said at the post match press conference.The world number 40 went down fighting to Singaporean Yang Zi in the final-four stage of men’s singles, but then recovered from the shock fast and paired up with former national champion Subhajit Saha to claim the doubles gold, beating Yang and Gao Ning 3-2 in a keenly contested summit clash.”My wife also inspired me before the doubles match. She came and called me ‘champion’ and that boosted my confidence all over again,” said Sharath, who broke down crying on the podium when the hosts’ national anthem was played at the hall.”My chest swelled with pride when the national anthem was being played. The country has given us so much support — the people, coaches, family, federation and the officials. I am happy to give them the honour in return,” said Sharath, who along with Saha, clad in the Tricolour, posed for photograph at the end of the match.”Generally, I am not an emotional person. But today, after listening to the national anthem, I could not hold myself,” he added.advertisementSharath also praised Saha for his support on the run-up to as well as during the summit-clash.”He also supported me very well, he is playing amazingly well after coming from an injury lay-off. Today we had to prove ourselves in the final,” he said.Saha also admitted that they were under some pressure during the final, specially before a packed stand at Yamuna Sports Complex.”We were under pressure. But then, my partner showed the strength and we never spoke about the singles loss,” he said.”Now our target is to do better in Asian Games in China next month. It would be another tough competition there,” Saha added.SAI chief coach for table tennis, Mukherjee said, “We wanted at least one gold and I am happy that they have kept their promise.”India’s foreign coach, Massimo Constantini was quite happy with the overall performance of the Indians.”I have been saying that we can expect anything between three and five medals in the Commonwealth Games. Now we have got four medals and even the fifth can come tomorrow,” the Italian said.”In the Delhi Games, our performance is only second to Singapore. So I think, we should take that,” the coach said.last_img read more

Gujarat CM Madhavsinh Solanki faces threat from one-time political mentor Jinabhai Darji

first_imgChief minister Madhavsinh Solanki’s troubles never seem to end. Only a few months ago he fought back a determined challenge from Ratubhai Adani, a senior Saurashtra leader who broke away from the Congress (I) and formed the Rashtriya Congress.Now Solanki faces an even more dangerous threat from his one-time political,Chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki’s troubles never seem to end. Only a few months ago he fought back a determined challenge from Ratubhai Adani, a senior Saurashtra leader who broke away from the Congress (I) and formed the Rashtriya Congress.Now Solanki faces an even more dangerous threat from his one-time political mentor Jinabhai Darji, who has launched a series of scathing attacks against the state Government.Darji is no lightweight to be dismissed out of hand. He has a sizeable following in south Gujarat, especially amongst the tribals of the region. He is also a former Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee(I) (GPCC-I) chief and is presently the director of the state’s 20-point programme.His main grouse at the moment appears to be that Solanki is not paying heed to his advice. He has during the last one year written a series of letters to the chief minister which have not been replied to. He also seems to be angling to have more of his supporters in the Cabinet.Shrewd Politician: Apart from the fact that Darji has considerable clout in the state, he is also a shrewd tactician. He knows how to make his protest felt in the Congress (I) without antagonising the high command.For instance, he knows that the high command cannot afford to change Solanki at the moment and he has not even suggested that he should be dismissed. Even when he went to New Delhi to meet Mrs Gandhi he kept his demands moderate saying that he only wanted to ensure a clean administration and that the party should gear up to face the challenge of the coming general elections.advertisementDarji has consistently during the last few weeks maintained that the Congress (I) may fare disastrously in Gujarat at the next elections unless it spruces up its image and clears up the dead wood in the Cabinet.He is on strong grounds in demanding a Cabinet reshuffle as the vacancies created by the death of one minister and the resignations of two others have not been filled for over one year. Besides this, it is common knowledge that the -district Congress committees are thoroughly disorganised and function at best haphazardly.SolankiSays a top party functionary: “One of the weakest areas of the state Congress (I) is its network in the districts. The damage will he enormous if we do not start reorganising them and breathe new life into them.” Darji. apparently, was given a good hearing in New Delhi as he continued to attack the state Government even after his return.Inevitably, Darji’s moves have given heart to the ragtag band of dissidents, who have from time to time raised their standards against Solanki. Soon after his first outburst against the chief minister a group of Congress (I) MP’s in Delhi met Congress (I) leaders to discuss the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. A Harijan MP.Hiralal Parmar, called on Sports Minister Buta Singh to complain about the murder of a Harijan in Mehsana. Another Congressman, Ramjibhai Mavani, wrote to Union Home Minister P.C. Sethi about the “increasing goondaism” in Saurashtra. In his letter he referred to the assault on Popatbhai Soralhia. a former MLA and party leader who was stabbed in Rajkot recently.Five other MP’s Ibrahim Lalaniya, Navinchandra Rawani. Narsinh Makwana, Daulatsinh Jadeja and Mohanbhai Patel – met Pranab Mukherjee to impress upon him that incidents of violence were sullying the image of the party.Soon after this spate of attacks Yogendra Makwana, Union minister of state for agriculture, joined in the chorus against the chief minister. At a general body meeting of the GPCC(I) which called for unity in the party Makwana charged that anyone suspected of even minor differences was sought to be suppressed.Nervousness: In the face of all this, Solanki is desperately trying to be nonchalant about the renewed spate of dissidence. But his nervousness shows with the repeated moves by his supporters to bring about peace between the two leaders. Solanki’s efforts to make peace are all the more conspicuous because Darji has been studiedly ignoring such moves saying that the conflict is over basic principles and that he would not compromise. Solanki however maintains stubbornly, “there is no dissidence. It is just a difference of opinion. We have one of the best run party set-ups and I am not disturbed by periodic outbursts from party members. We have the ability to rectify our mistakes.” This, however, seems doubtful at best.Darji : Fighting for powerCongressmen who know Darji well, maintain that he is not a person to back away from conflict. They point out that he is well known for his outspokeness. Soon after the GPCC(I) met to pass a unity resolution on August 28 Darji wrote the chief minister a stiff letter pointing out his lapses.Darji’s supporters also say that his silence is a tactical move and that he will be starting his anti-Solanki campaign in right earnest very soon. He is said to be gunning for two ministers in particular – Deputy Minister for Finance Harihar Khamboljia and Deputy Minister for Health Kokilabehn Vyas.advertisementDarji adds: “The coming elections will be crucial for the party as weaker sections have become politically conscious. Tribals, Harijans backward classes and minorities comprise 64 per cent of the vote bank in Gujarat. The chief minister should be leaning toward them but he has surrounded himself with capitalists.”There is speculation that Mrs Gandhi is not wholly unfavourable to Darji’s campaign. Back in the days when Mrs Gandhi was out of office, Darji stood by her: two days after her release from jail in December 1978 Darji organised a massive tribal gathering near Surat which she addressed, an event that gained importance since it was depicted as evidence of Mrs Gandhi’s hold on the backward classes.But Darji isn’t obviously pushing his luck. Said he: “I will remain within the party and see that it is set right.”last_img read more

AUSTRALIA CLAIMS CHAMPION NATION STATUS AT WORLD CUP

first_imgMen’s 35 Years   Australia 3 def South Africa 2 Men’s 40 Years   Australia 12 def Barbarians 1 Touch Football Australia’s World Cup contingent has returned home triumphant after retaining the champion nation crown at the sixth Federation of International Touch (FIT) World Cup played at the Daniel Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch South Africa from 17-21 January 2007.The seven Australian World Cup teams performed creditably winning Gold in five out of seven divisions and Silver in the remaining two divisions.The Australians retained their World Champion status in the face of a tremendous challenge from 15 Nations, including archrivals New Zealand and the vastly improved host nation South Africa who finished third in the overall standings in the champion nation race. Australia is the only nation to field teams in every division offered at every World Cup since the event was first contested on the Gold Coast in 1988.Australia now has an outstanding record in World Cup history having lost only 5 out of 42 divisional finals in twenty-years of World Cup competition.The Australian Women’s Open Team, arguably Australia’s most successful Women’s sporting team in any code at World Cup level, led Australia’s charge with a crushing 9-3 demolition of New Zealand in the final.The Australian Women’s Team now proudly boasts an incredible 54 game winning streak at World Cup level spanning a twenty-year period.The Women’s team has never suffered defeat in World Cup competition and has completed a remarkable run of sustained excellence over six pristine campaigns at this level.Sisters Louise and Claire Winchester, twins Amanda and Kristy Judd, and Kelly Woods and Rachel Holden starred for the Aussies in a stellar team performance in the final that underlined the dominance and skill level of the Women’s game in Australia.The Aussie Women scored three Touchdowns in the opening three minutes of the Final to totally demoralize the Kiwis and there was no way back with a fit, hungry, cohesive, and well prepared Australian side determined to see four time World Cup veterans Captain Sharyn Williams, Vice Captain Melissa Pitfield, and the Judd twins out of World Cup competition on the best possible note.Coach Kerry Norman and Assistant Coach Dean Russell’s hard work and thorough preparation was reflected in outstanding form from all members of the 16-player squad who each played their part in a deserved triumph.The Australian Men’s Open Team, who have won every World Cup final contested, had to pull out all stops against a highly skilled, youthful, and agile New Zealand combination. The ‘Touch Blacks’ drew 5-5 with the Australians in their round clash earlier in the tournament and pushed the World champion Australians all the way in the decider. Australia rode home off the back of some stunning footwork from the mercurial Drumayne Dayberg-Muir who was later crowned Most Valuable Player of the World Cup after engineering Australia’s 8-5 victory, gift-wrapping the clincher for Australian Vice Captain Jason Stanton.The game ebbed and flowed after Australia again got out to an early lead like they did in the round game against the Kiwis, only to be reeled in by a fast finishing Kiwi team who played with tremendous heart, spirit, and fast feet that sonic the hedgehog would die for.The Aussies were not short of heroes themselves with Joel Willoughby, Jamie Stowe, Phil Gyemore, and Captain Gavin Shuker providing the framework for the Australian victory.Special mention must be made of defensive king Ash Farrow, who should be used instead of the Great Wall of China to ‘keep the rabbits out’. Sunshine was not even getting through on his watch.Coaches Tony Trad and Peter Robinson can be well pleased with the resilience shown by the Australian boys who remained composed and found a way to win under enormous pressure.New Zealand narrowly defeated Australia 6-4 in their “pet” division of Mixed Open after an absorbing battle. Australia won the last World Cup in the Mixed Open division in 2003 with a side containing a number of players with exceptional footwork including Drumayne Dayberg Muir and current NRL Super star Benji Marshall, but could not resist the challenge from a young New Zealand team big on combination, experience, and tried and tested skills in the Mixed genre of the game.Dean Williams, who possesses one of the most lethal pair of feet in the game, was simply exceptional for New Zealand and despite his dominant display Australia was not short of effort and big game performers who left it all out on the field for their Country as they had promised to do in an emotional pre-game team meeting.Ben Mc Cullen, Brad Holden, Matt Tope, and Ben and Steve Roberts all stepped up to the plate whilst Co-Captain Mary Steele, Belinda Gretch, and Rebecca Tavo all stood firm in both attack and defence.Co-Captain Tony Eltakchi gave his all and it was disappointing loss to end a marvellous career at World Cup Open level for Australia’s ‘Mr. Mixed’. Eltakchi has been a monument to the game at this level and can stand proudly amongst the very best and most committed players to pull on the green and gold. In the wake of Eltakchi’s loss, and the dominance of New Zealand, Australia will need to keep working on ways to broaden and improve playing skills, knowledge, and experiences unique to the Mixed game for future National players to ensure that the Mixed division thrives in this Country and at International level.Coach Gary Madders can be pleased that the gap between the two nations has narrowed since the 2005 All Nations Championships and that there are better times ahead for this division in the future. The Kiwis claimed their second title of the tournament in the Mixed 30 Years division with a nail biting 8-7 triumph over Australia.The kiwis headlined by “Mr. Touch” Peter Walters were expected to dominate this division.Their 4-1 defeat of Australia in the round game between the two heavyweights of International Touch Football, suggested it would be hard going for an Aussie team full of rookie Mixed players at this level.To coaching staff Wayne Grant and John Collin’s credit, some big deficiencies were turned around in a short space of time and a very determined, gutsy, and skilled Australian Mixed 30s team narrowly went down 8-7 to the Kiwis.The Aussies covered themselves in glory in an outstanding effort and, although not quite achieving their “World Champion” goal, the Aussie camp could not have been any prouder of the fight shown by the 30s Mixed team.Co-Captains Clynton Wastell and Cathy Ring were standouts, whilst Amanda Bourne, Alan Watts, and Manu Wakely impressed with big match performances in the Grand final.Australia collected the Men’s 30 Years division Gold Medal in a dominant 13-2 display over Samoa, having bulldozed through the competition like a front rower 1 metre out from the tryline all week.The 30s Men were cohesive and professional all tournament with Captain Chris Benfield, Adam Fahim, Ben Smith, and Wayne Gleeson producing the goods all week.The Men’s 35s division claimed a close 3-2 verdict over host nation South Africa with Captain Dave Raper and Chris Ferguson leading the way.Coach Michael Mc Donald kept heads steady and the Australians’ withstood a hometown blood and thunder effort from the Springboks to wrap up the division for Australia.Australia capped off their tournament with a 12-1 victory against a Barbarians line-up in the Men’s 40s division.Ash Taylor nabbed 4 touchdowns and Peter Wandl a hat trick in a comprehensive performance by the Aussie team who all scored touchdowns during the tournament.The game against the Barbarians was a fitting way for many of Australia’s pioneers of the game at Representative level to wave good bye to the sport at International level.Coach Dennis Coffey and Assistant Coach John Singh can be well pleased that their team’s thorough preparation resulted in such an outstanding performance.After being presented with the World Cup at the Daniel Craven Stadium, the Australian Teams headed back to their Pretoria Hotel base in Stellenbosch for a Team function.Team Awards were presented in every division, touring, coaching, medical, administration, and support staff were acknowledged, and a few quite ales were consumed by all, not to mention the belting out of a few impromptu songs from the Aussie Open Men’s team.The “We don’t need another Farrow” (to the tune of Tina Turner’s ‘We don’t need another Hero’) was amongst the crowd’s favourites.Australia’s victorious Men’s Open Coach, Tony Trad made the point that the National Anthem was not played once during Australia’s golden finals run at the fields, so appropriately all Aussie Team members rose to their feet to deliver a heartfelt, loud, off-key, but supremely proud rendition of “Advance Australia Fair” to put the finishing touches on Australia’s World Cup defence celebrations.All the Aussies were singing, even Melissa Pitfield who has had a well publicized Milli Vanilli mime act going for 12 years, but even the Aussie Vice Captain relaxed her own rule and was just another off-key but fantastically proud Aussie singing her heart out – Australian Idol be very afraid!All Australian Team members then attended the official World Cup function at nearby Spier and enjoyed traditional South African food, drink, and entertainment whilst mingling and swapping uniforms with touch playing colleagues from around the World.Most Valuable Players were awarded across all divisions, Scotland was officially announced as the 2011 host nation for the seventh FIT World Cup, and Australia’s Captains congregated on stage to accept the World Cup that enjoyed a prominent spot on the Qantas flight home on Monday/Tuesday.Aussie players headed back to the Pretoria Hotel where they enjoyed their own private celebrations in the club downstairs, many to the wee hours of the morning – revelling in their newly acquired World Champion status.Dancefloor stars included Stevie “Devo” Roberts,Rebecca Tavo, Teena Mac Ilveen, the Winchester sisters, dark horse Kelly Mc Genity, Rach Holden, and Benny Roberts.The ‘star’ performer was an Aussie Men’s 30s Men’s player whose mimed “Skipping Rope” routine lasted 20 minutes and had the crowd throwing coinage rand at his feet – not sure if it was for more moves or to pay him off to make him stop!After breakfast Monday morning, the tour party went their separate ways, some keen to get started on Game Park adventures, others keen for the beaches and bright lights of Sun City, and some even off to dive with Great White Sharks.The rest of us set off for home with a head and heart full of memories of a land, a people, and an experience that will not be easily erased by time.Knowing that the World Cup trophy that we had all given up so much for was once again firmly in Aussie clutches meant mission accomplished for Australia’s mighty World Cup contingent of players, coaches, managers, administrators, and supporters both at home and abroad who each played their part in Australia’s triumph.Even a plane delay could not wipe the smiles off our faces, in fact Kelly Woods added to this with her insightful comment,“That flight from South Africa flew on the way back.”We were all pleased Wood duck cleared up the mode of transport issue for us, just in case we were wondering after almost 24 hours of traveling..The Qantas flight home was great with Individualized Premier movies and console games at our disposal and the use of an air phone to call the ground or anyone else on board.Super coach Kerry Norman wanted to test out the seat-to-seat phone communication.I was pretty tired but saw an incoming call on my system and picked up the phone.“Hello”“Karls it’s Kez, how cool is this, it works.” Kerry enthused.Sleepy and stunned I looked one seat away to see Kerry talking to me like some walkie-talkie bandit,“That’s great Kez, I can see that, good to know.”“Ok roger, over and out” Kerry said.I just shook my head and drifted off to sleep smiling at another great memory of a fantastic time abroad shared with so many great people in our sport.As the South Africans say,Totsiens (goodbye) Salakahle, (stay well) and Hambakahle (go well). Results of Federation of International Touch World Cup Finals 2007Open Women’s    Australia 9 def New Zealand 3Open Men’s          Australia 8 def New Zealand 5Open Mixed          New Zealand 6 def Australia 4Mixed 30 Years    New Zealand 8 def Australia 7Men’s 30 Years    Australia 13 def Samoa 2last_img read more