Football talent spotting Are clubs getting it wrong with kids

Scouting football players as young as five, persuading an 11-year-old to sign a contract with private school education or offering a teenager’s parents a house.

These are some of the things English clubs are doing to secure the country’s best youngsters in an increasingly desperate fight to beat rivals to sign potential stars.

“Money talks,” sighs Sheffield United’s chief academy scout Luke Fedorenko as he describes how he has just lost two 11-year-olds to Manchester City. “But we must be doing something right.”

Fedorenko was one of 320 coaches and scouts at a recent Football Association conference at St George’s Park to discuss what one keynote speaker, Professor Ross Tucker, calls a “race to the bottom”.

There are 12,500 players in the English academy system, but only 0.5% of under-nines at top clubs are likely to make it to the first team. There are also suggestions that drop-out rate in football is similar to other sports, such as rugby union, which can lose 76% of players between the ages of 13 and 16.

So are clubs still searching for the right formula for spotting talent? And with the number of foreign players


Badminton,court or lawn game played with lightweight rackets and a shuttlecock. Historically, the shuttlecock (also known as a “bird” or “birdie”) was a small cork hemisphere with 16 goose feathers attached and weighing about 0.17 ounce (5 grams). These types of shuttles may still be used in modern play, but shuttles made from synthetic materials are also allowed by the Badminton World Federation. The game is named for Badminton, the country estate of the dukes of Beaufort in Gloucestershire, England, where it was first played about 1873. The roots of the sport can be traced to ancient Greece, China, and India, and it is closely related to the old children’s game battledore and shuttlecock. Badminton is derived directly from poona, which was played by British army officers stationed in India in the 1860s. The first unofficial all-England badminton championships for men were held in 1899, and the first badminton tournament for women was arranged the next year.

Susanti, Susi [Credit: ALLSPORT UK/John Gichigi]

The Badminton World Federation (BWF; originally the International Badminton Federation), the world governing body of the sport, was formed in 1934. Badminton

Table Tennis championships return to Baltimore

Table tennis players Canadian Pradeeban Peter-Paul (red shirt) and South Korean Lim Jae Hyun compete at the 2010 North American Teams Championships.

First off, the game’s table tennis; please don’t call it by the antiquated name pingpong.

And if you think it’s easy to play just because you can beat your siblings in heated basement matches, you could be in for a rude awakening.

“People just dink around for the most part,” says Richard Lee, president of Rockville-based North American Table Tennis and head of the North American Teams Table Tennis Championships, which volleys its way into the Baltimore Convention Center this weekend. “A lot of times, when you’re playing in your basement — of course you’re trying to smash the ball. But a lot of times, it’s just trying to keep a rally going.

“These people,” Lee promises of this weekend’s competitors, some 800 players converging on Baltimore from all over the world, “are really going all out. At this level, it’s an actual sport.”

Is there

Early LeBron Shoe Sales Show Positive Trend

All the marketing polls reflect that LeBron James clearly hurt himself with the way “The Decision” went down in July.
Source: Nike

But business statistics don’t lie.

An extensive survey of retailers by CNBC reflected that many considered the LeBron 8, which hit stores last week, a good sell. Another described sales as average, while one retailer said sales were miserable.

Matt Powell, analyst for SportsOneSource, a market retail tracking firm, said he spoke to three retailers who told him this was on pace to be their best-selling LeBron shoe yet. Powell also said that sales of NBA jerseys over the last four weeks are up more than 30 percent, thanks to people buying LeBron, Wade and Bosh jerseys.

“The only thing that really matters for LeBron, from a marketing perspective, is what happens at the cash register and so far it looks good,” Powell said.

Limited edition colorways are expected to generate buzz and sell out — like the special edition “South Beach” version of the LeBron 8, which were quickly snapped up by collectors and fans last month in Miami. But marketers are more interested in how the main shoe, of which retailers have purchased the largest quantities, will sell in the

Melbourne Cup to Contribute $690 Million to Australia’s Economy

The Melbourne Cup may be known as the race that stops the nation, but with the event expected to generate over A$700 million ($692 million) for the Australian economy, it’s also a time when punters and spectators spend big on the sport.
Digital Vision | Getty Images

The Melbourne Cup has come a long way in its 150-year history. First held back in 1861, the race was watched by just 4,000 people, with the winner Archer, picking up a gold watch and 170 pounds. Fast forward to 2010 – the race is watched by more than 700 million people, with a prize pool in excess of A$6 million. From fashion to food and tourism, the Melbourne Cup literally sends Australia’s economy into overdrive.

Trackside, it seems the event has recovered dramatically from the global financial crisis. Last year, more than 370,000 race-goers attended the four day event, consuming 310,000 bottles of beer and nearly 100,000 bottles of champagne. Corporate sponsorship is up 15 percent this year as big brands woo customers in lavishly designed marquees with huge entertainment budgets. Automaker Lexus has designed a three-level tent to hold 220 guests, complete with sky deck to watch the race and food from

Marshawn Lynch Signals He’s Leaving, but He’s Likely to Linger in Fans’ Minds

It is not easy to make news in the middle of the Super Bowl, but Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch managed to. At 9:46 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, early in the fourth quarter of the game, Lynch posted a photograph on his Twitter account of football shoes hanging from a telephone wire. It was a subtle but clear message that he had chosen to end his football career at age 29.

By Monday evening, the message had been retweeted nearly 200,000 times.

After three outstanding years at California, Lynch was drafted No. 12 over all by the Buffalo Bills in 2007. He surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons, but after a suspension for having a gun in the trunk of his car, he lost his starting job. He was traded to the Seahawks in 2010 for two middle-round draft picks.

It proved a great trade for Seattle. Lynch rushed for more than 1,200 yards in each of his first four full seasons with the Seahawks and led the N.F.L. in

Star Soccer Players Sport Some Sweet Rides

Star Soccer Players Sport Some Sweet Rides

A month ago, only avid soccer fans knew who Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. were. However, thanks to the just ended FIFA World Cup, the trio have become household names, and rightfully so – After all, Messi was instrumental in getting Argentina to the finals, and Brazil’s dismal performance against Germany and the Netherlands highlighted just how important Neymar is to the country’s success in soccer. Though Ronaldo did not quite live up to the lofty expectations, he did score one of the two goals in Portugal’s final game against Ghana and made a crucial assist in their match against the United States.

Win or lose, it is quite apparent that the three players are extremely passionate about soccer. What is not as well-known is their penchant for cars. Fortunately, with the amount of money they earn playing their favorite game, the trio have the luxury to indulge in several vehicles.

With a net worth of $180MM USD and annual earnings of $64.7MM USD, Lionel Messi, who is considered to be the world’s best soccer player, has been able to accumulate a sizable

Girls’ basketball player of the year Jordin Canada

Watching Jordin Canada of L.A. Windward dribble a basketball is like getting the chance to see the Mona Lisa in Paris.

It’s perfection on display.

Then, to see Canada make a precision pass when defenders converge around her only adds to her allure as the best girls’ point guard in California, if not in the nation.

She has been selected The Times’ girls’ basketball player of the year after averaging 17.2 points and 6.9 assists in leading Windward to the Southern Section Open Division championship. The McDonald’s All-American has signed with UCLA.

“No words can really express being able to play with her,” Windward freshman Alyssa Ramlochan said.

During the Palisades tournament in December, Canada, a 5-foot-6 senior, made a behind-the-back pass under the basket to Ramlochan, leading to a layup and a big smile from Canada.

Her coach, Vanessa Nygaard, was overheard before the game trying to convince Canada to “develop another skill.” That was shocking news, considering how good Canada already was.

“I said, ‘You have to learn how to tape your own ankle. Then you’d be a complete player,’

25 years ago Pete Maravich’s tragic trip to Pasadena

Everything seemed normal that morning in the gymnasium at the First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena. Maravich had flown in from his Louisiana home to do some radio work with James Dobson. Maravich had become a born-again Christian. Dobson was the nationally known head of Focus on the Family, his spacious headquarters located at the intersection of the 57 and 10 freeways in Pomona.

Dobson, 6 feet 5, was then 51, loved sports, was once captain of the tennis team at Pasadena City College and put together morning pickup basketball games at Nazarene on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This was a Tuesday, but it was a special day.

Pete Maravich: A column in the Jan. 5 Sports section about the death of basketball legend Pete Maravich during a trip to Pasadena 25 years earlier said that James Dobson of Focus on the Family, whom Maravich was visiting, had been on the tennis team at Pasadena City College. Dobson attended Pasadena College, which relocated to San Diego and is now known as Point Loma Nazarene University. —

The guy with the scraggly hair and floppy socks was joining

John Terry Why has the Blues captain decided to leave Chelsea?

Only four players have played more than his 477 Premier League appearances for a single club – Liverpool pair Steven Gerrard (504) and Jamie Carragher (508), and Manchester United pair Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, with 632 and 499 respectively.

So with Terry’s departure the landscape of the Premier League and Chelsea will undergo a significant shift next season.

Is Chelsea’s decision a surprise?

It clearly was to John Terry as he admitted it was “not going to be a fairytale ending”. Instead, at a time not of his choosing and with the ruthless decision-making that has become a trademark for Chelsea’s hierarchy, he is on the way out in May.

Terry has made it clear he wanted to stay on but this move has come from the top of club, most likely in the shape of owner Roman Abramovich and director Marina Granovskaia, the Russian’s closest adviser and negotiator-in-chief.

Chelsea may simply be working on the basis of brutal realism. Terry was 35 in December and has heavy mileage on a clock that has been running since 28 October 1998, when he made his debut as a late substitute in League

Arsenal 0-1 Chelsea Why Wenger was wrong to take off Giroud

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger had to sacrifice an attacking player to bring on another defender when Per Mertesacker was sent off for a professional foul, but I think his choice shocked everyone

The Arsenal fans and Giroud himself made it very clear what they thought of the decision, and I agreed with them.

I can honestly say I have never seen that happen in any game I’ve been involved in. If a team has a defender sent off, it is usually one of their ‘luxury’ players who gets dragged off – not the big striker.

Without Giroud, Arsenal had no focal point for their attac

Personally I would have taken off Joel Campbell, but I would also have chosen to lose Mesut Ozil or Theo Walcott rather than Giroud.

It was 0-0 when Wenger made the switch and it is possible he was already thinking he would take a draw, but he must surely have been thinking that he might need a goal at some stage.

If Campbell came off and Arsenal conceded quickly as they did, Wenger might have regretted his decision but he had another similar player in Alexis

Table tennis

Table tennis, also called (trademark) Ping-Pong, ball game similar in principle to lawn tennis and played on a flat table divided into two equal courts by a net fixed across its width at the middle. The object is to hit the ball so that it goes over the net and bounces on the opponent’s half of the table in such a way that the opponent cannot reach it or return it correctly. The lightweight hollow ball is propelled back and forth across the net by small rackets (bats, or paddles) held by the players. The game is popular all over the world. In most countries it is very highly organized as a competitive sport, especially in Europe and Asia, particularly in China and Japan.


The game was invented in England in the early days of the 20th century and was originally called Ping-Pong, a trade name. The name table tennis was adopted in 1921–22 when the old Ping-Pong Association formed in 1902 was revived. The original association had broken up about 1905, though apparently the game continued to be played in parts of England outside London and by the 1920s was

London Olympics Badminton scandal rocks sport 8 players expelled

Not words you often — if ever — associate with the sport of badminton. But those were the words being used by British TV after eight female badminton players were kicked out of the Olympic Games doubles competition on Wednesday afternoon over twin charges of “not using one’s best efforts to win a match” and “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.”

The Badminton World Federation held a closed-door hearing on the matter in the aftermath of events on Tuesday night at Wembley Arena. Television images showed clips of the players in question going through the motions and appearing to “tank” in order to get a more favorable draw going forward.

PHOTOS: Day 4 of the London Olympics

The players dumped serves into the net and didn’t even offer the pretense of trying.

Spectators booed the players, and some demanded refunds. At one point, the referee took to the court to warn the players, threatening disqualification.

The ousted pairs were: Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang (China); Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari (Indonesia); Jung Kyung Eun and Kim

Players paddling along at table tennis tourney

Trying to hit balls moving faster than a major-league pitch, nearly 800 table tennis players converged on Baltimore this weekend for the North American Teams Table Tennis Championships, which ends today at the Baltimore Convention Center.

They came from 10 countries, including Japan, China, Germany and Hungary, to play in the only team table tennis tournament in the country. The 189 teams are competing for $20,000 in prize money, with the Division I winner taking home $6,000.

About 5,000 people attended the first two days of the tournament to watch the teams play on 141 tables spread out over a space that is close to the size of the field at Camden Yards.

Each team, consisting of three to five people, plays at least 12 other teams in a round-robin format. The players, ranging in age from 5 to 70, cheered each other on as their teammates whacked the ball across the tables, with some balls spinning up to 85 to 100 mph. “This makes a major-league fastball look slow,” said Alan Williams, spokesman for North American Table Tennis.

The annual tournament started in 1932

He’s Trying to Get Some Respect for Badminton

Chris Jogis, the top badminton player in the United States, can understand why many people don’t take his sport seriously. Even he once thought badminton was a pastime for picnickers–not skilled athletes.

“Before I was playing, I was an All-American sports fan and I couldn’t imagine this being a real sport either,” Jogis said.

“I was as ignorant to the sport as America is now. But once I saw the sport, I was hooked.”

The teen-age addiction has become a way of life for Jogis, who will compete in the Carlton U.S. Open Badminton Championships today through Sunday at UC Irvine’s Bren Center. And that means he often has some explaining to do.

Badminton? Outside the United States, it’s one of the most popular sports–second only to soccer in worldwide participants, Jogis says. It takes quickness, strength and endurance to master the second-fastest racquet sport in the world behind jai alai, he continues.

“It’s a little trying sometimes,” Jogis said. “But as a top player, I’m kind of a spokesman

Chris Davis will do his best to avoid Sports Illustrated cover jinx

With the announcement he will be on a regional cover of Sports Illustrated this week, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis joined some elite company. Former Orioles including Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Cal Ripken Jr. have graced the cover of the magazine since its start in 1954, as have decorated athletes like Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan.

It’s high praise for a player some thought would never reach his massive potential while in the minor leagues.

“If I can have a career anywhere close to what those guys had in their sports, I’d obviously be pretty excited,” Davis said Wednesday, a day after his cover was announced. “It is an honor to be on the cover and for them to use me as kind of a spotlight. But it doesn’t change who I am.”

Some might see a downside to Davis’ recognition. The supposed Sports Illustrated cover jinx has been part of sports superstition for years, which could portend that Davis — who entered Wednesday batting .306 with 45 home runs and 115 RBIs this season — may be in for a rough stretch.


Badminton Is No Picnic for Her

Your newest Olympic medal sport features a little birdie that sometimes reaches speeds in excess of 140 m.p.h. Anaheim’s Erika von Heiland once got hit in the right eye with one and couldn’t see for a week.

This is the same game that probably has been played by anyone who ever attended a company picnic or a neighbor’s barbecue. Yet, people laugh when von Heiland says it pays for her tuition and books at Arizona State University.

This is the sport that requires more stamina and a higher aerobic fitness level than any other racket game. Still it wallows in obscurity.

And so it goes for poor badminton, star of afternoon wienie and hamburger roasts everywhere. If ever a sport needed an image readjustment, this is it.

Of course, the U.S. Badminton Assn. is doing what it can. Walk into the Olympic Festival media room and you’ll find more badminton literature then you thought possible. Magazines, newsletters, brochures, media guides, fact sheets, notes of supposed interest. A badminton bibliography even is available, as if anyone is actually going to run to the library in search

Chinese badminton player quits sport after controversy

The fallout from the seemingly unprecedented mass disqualification continued. Reports in China added to the intrigue behind the scenes. Team officials said that Wang injured her right knee in the midst of pre-match warmups, causing the highly regarded doubles team to hold back against the South Koreans.

The online badminton publication Badzine ran an article late last year, analyzing match statistics from tournaments in 2011 and concluded:

“More than 20 percent of matches is either not finished or not played when Chinese shuttlers play against their own compatriots. Chinese shuttlers met each other 99 times on the circuit this year, and 20 matches were either not played at all [11 walkovers] or played partially before one of the opponents retired [9 retirements].

“This shows that 20.20% of matches between Chinese shuttlers were not completed in 2011.

“… These figures have to be put in perspective as China has the largest contingent of players at high level — more than a third of the matches played between compatriots [99 of 289 matches] are played between Chinese shuttlers. Never the less, it has raised some questions amongst

Table tennis draws players, fans from around the world

The Baltimore Convention Center buzzed with the sounds of table tennis balls hitting rubber paddles as nearly 200 teams competed this weekend in a competition drawing players from around the world.

Roughly 800 men and women of every skill level and age — 7 to 79 — competed at the JOOLA North American Teams Table Tennis Championships. The Division 1 finals ended with the Alex Table Tennis-Elite team, whose players came from China, defeating Team JOOLA, whose players came from Argentina, Slovakia and the Dominican Republic.

They were among 196 teams of three to five players who competed for $20,000 in prize money.

“This is pretty neat. We don’t get to see this level often, especially right here,” said Mark Cohen, who has been playing in the Baltimore-based tournament for about 10 years. While the Takoma Park resident was not among the most competitive players, he said watching the tournament was just as exciting as playing.

“The spins are so complex,” he said of play in the finals. “They make it look so easy,” he said.

During each game in the finals, each elite

Toutz Named Olympic Coach in Badminton

Vicki Toutz, the badminton coach at Garden Grove High School, said Wednesday she has been appointed coach of the U.S. Olympic badminton team for the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

“This is by far the highlight of my entire athletic career,” Toutz said.

Toutz, 52, has coached at Garden Grove for 31 years. She was the national seniors women’s doubles champion from 1982-84 and the seniors mixed doubles champion from 1983-85.

In 1971 and 1981, Toutz represented the U.S. in the Uber Cup, the sport’s equivalent to the Davis Cup in tennis. She was the U.S. women’s coach from 1984-86.

Toutz, who is the chairman of the International Competition Committee of the U.S. Badminton Assn., said there are three men and two women on the five-member Olympic team, including singles player Erika Von Heiland of Anaheim. Toutz said the U.S. players advanced to the Olympic tournament after playing in several qualifying tournaments throughout the world the past 18 months.

The Olympic competition will feature 192 players–96 men and 96 women. It’s the first time badminton will be a medal sport in the Olympics.


Smashing win table tennis national

“Her grandparents introduce her to this game,” Crystal’s father, Quandou Wang, said. Crystal was visiting them in the summer of 2007, and they took her to a local community center where table tennis abounded and an instructor suggested she give it a shot.

Five years old at the time, Crystal could barely see over the table — the average 5-year-old stands 40 inches tall, and a standard table tennis table sits 30 inches off the ground.

But that didn’t stop the young girl from taking to the century-old game.

She returned to the United States and started lessons that fall at the Maryland Table Tennis Center.

At first, Crystal was playing a few times a week. But in 2008, Quandou said, things changed.

“It became her favorite sport, not just entertainment,” he said.

Now she practices almost daily, whether it is private lessons, group lessons, casual tournaments or just rallying.

Last month, that passion led Crystal to what she called her biggest accomplishment so far. She won the 21-and-under women’s singles competition at the 2013 U.S. table tennis nationals.

The catch? She’s 11 years old — the youngest ever to claim the title,