Looking back at last year’s schoolboy football season, Jamaica College (JC) re-emphasised its imprint on the competition by taking three successive Manning Cup titles. This is a distinction only once achieved in history.This columnist declares interest in that the previous occasion was the 1961, 1962, 1963 trot, started in his final year of a school which churned out three of the nation’s heads of state.Going into the final against perennial arch-rivals St George’s College was a challenge on mammoth proportions. The Jesuit school had rolled over the team from Old Hope Road in the Super Cup final, four goals to nil. In certain quarters, it was seen as humiliating.Take it as you choose, it was a tutorial in basic execution of brilliance, put on by coach Neville ‘Bertis’ Bell-inspired boys in the lighter shade of blue.Coach Miguel Coley, in charge of the JC unit, had been distracted by national duties. However, there were going to be no excuses accepted in-house for that temporary break in his substantive role. The Catholics had to be turned back if a tradition of triumph was to be sustained.In an address to Old Boys’ recently, chief architect in the JC sporting structure and corporate giant, Ian Forbes, summed it up. Himself an old boy, he called the eventual, trophy-deciding one-nil performance as a message to the country.FIGHTING RIVALS”Whether in the classrooms, on the playing fields or in the corporate boardrooms, private or public sector, we must take the fight to our opposing rivals and not let them roll over or conquer us, no matter how frightening the task may be.”Call it late, as the track and field season has started and thoughts are on this Olympic Year. But it was inevitable that Foster’s Fairplay would, at some time, look back at that 4-0, crafted to put the boys from Hope in their place. As to how the comeback to take the Manning Cup, was orchestrated and executed, occupies this column, this week.Enter the passion, belief and commitment of coach Coley. Here was a man steeped in a sporting culture that saw him, at the youthful age of 17, playing basketball, cricket, volleyball, football and doing long jump at Intercol, while attending Mico Teachers College. In 2004, he was named Athlete of the Year. On the soccer field, he “had dreams of one day playing for Manchester United”.Armed with a degree in sports education and a diploma in English and physical education, he had understudied coaching exemplars in Barry Watson (Mile Gully High) and Alrick Clarke (Norman Manley High, where he coupled with teaching duties). Coley referred to Clarke in glowing terms.”I believe coach Clarke was (my) early mentor as he took me to assist him everywhere he coached.”It was in this period that the JC call had come. Given the resultant impact as he became absorbed in the Old Hope Road programme, it would be simple to merely say, ‘and the rest is history’.However, story of the 2015 ‘rise from the ashes’, 1-0, to turn back the St George’s College march, to greater glory, must be told.Coley reminisced. “The four-nil was a catastrophe. It was a tough night. I hadn’t slept based on what took place between Jamaica and Panama (a Reggae Boyz loss). I knew it would be a difficult game, but we were too open and we played right in the hands of a philosophy of outscoring your opponent, as the entire statistic favoured JC except the goal column.”SOUL SEARCHINGHe underwent a period of introspection. He described it as a time to “soul search, dig deep and become stronger as a man”. His confidence never waned.”I was happy that I had time to work with my players before the next game, and I knew things would be way different. But congrats to St George’s, they did what they had to do.”In order to “move from a four-nil”, he took full responsibility. So, “it’s not you, it’s me”, that was what was important.”What was good was that my management staff and school administration had so much belief in my ability to turn things around, and their support intensified. This was the moment for me to see champions brush themselves up and rise with pride.”Therein lay the passion that brought the turnaround. Coley ended the discourse on a special note.”We are one … Fervet family. Teamwork makes the dream work.”
Sonke activists at a mobilisation in Delft organised to remember Queen, a 9-year-old girl who died on March 18th 2014, two months after being raped and set on fire. Although Queen identified her attacker, who was apprehended by police with fresh burn wounds and visible scratch marks, the case is not being prosecuted due to the failure of police to collect and present sufficient evidence. Sonke is working with community members and the police to ensure that Queen’s murder is properly prosecuted, and organises mobilisations to engage our community action team (CAT) and the Delft community to raise awareness around gender-based violence. (Image: Sonke Gender Justice)There’s no doubt masculinity is an important part of the identity of South African men. This is often not their choice. Ours is a country in which there is frequently enormous pressure on men, from all sides, to be men – to be manly.This is both a positive and a negative. The negative is that some men may wish to assert their masculinity by abusing those physically weaker than them – women and children. The positive is others embrace their masculinity in the spirit of Ubuntu. For them being a man is to be strong, protective, nurturing and supportive of others.Today Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg launches a new global campaign as part of her established LeanIn initiative, which fights for the rights of women across the world. This time, Sandberg is asking men to join the fight. In this country, her call has been taken up by Brand South Africa. To mark International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March, we urge our men to demonstrate how they celebrate and support South African women. This can be at home – creating stronger marriages and healthier, happier, more successful kids – and at work, for better team outcomes.Sandberg’s global campaign will be supported leaders ranging from top NBA athletes to influential CEOs and public figures such as Richard Branson, Warren Buffett, Melinda Gates, Arianna Huffington, Condoleezza Rice and Mark Zuckerberg.SOUTH AFRICAN MEN FIGHTING FOR WOMEN’S RIGHTSIn South Africa men need to reclaim their manhood as supporters of women, not abusers. There have been too many incidents where men have used their culture, physical strength and ability to earn more than their women counterparts to keep women in subservient positions.South African men must become role models to future generations of men by committing to being uplifting, caring, present and emotionally stable, for women to fully take their place, as equals, in our homes, communities and society.An example South African men leaning in for the rights of women is Sonke Gender Justice, a gender-rights civil society organisation set up and run by men.The organisation’s work includes initiatives such as the One Man Can, which encourages men to become actively involved in advocating for gender equality, preventing gender-based violence, and responding to HIV and Aids.Dumisani Rebombo runs the One Man Can project at Sonke’s new satellite office in the rural settlement of Bushbuckridge in Limpopo. The project forms part of a four-year randomised control trial being undertaken by Wits University, University of California, San Francisco and University of North Carolina, both in the US.It seeks to show how Sonke’s the project’s community mobilisation model can reduce levels of violence in this and other communities and ultimately reduce the levels of HIV infection in young women.According to Sonke, research conducted in 2009 by Chris Colvin indicated significant changes in short-term behaviour in the weeks following One Man Can activities. Twenty-five percent of respondents had accessed voluntary counselling and testing, 50% reported an act of gender-based violence, 61% increased their use of condoms, and over 80% talked to friends or family members about HIV, gender and human rights issues.New research by Shari Dworkin and colleagues shows further clear evidence that men taking part in these programmes change their attitude and behaviour in line with the objectives of One Man Can.This new qualitative research assessed OMC participants’ changes in masculine ideologies and health beliefs and behaviours. The study was conducted in two provinces, Limpopo and Eastern Cape, where the researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 60 OMC participants. Questions covered issues of gender relations and women’s rights, violence, relationships and sex, masculinity, fatherhood, gender and HIV risks, HIV prevention and testing, and community action teams.The research clearly shows that men who have participated in OMC activities afterwards embrace trends towards equality for women, understand their male identity differently and are more involved in household labour and child care.“A lot has changed in my life,” said one man who took part in the programme. “My childhood observations of a man as boss was wrong and before I attended OMC sessions; I continued to believe that it is the same wrong things that need to be done. But after some sessions and engagement in discussions with various people with various points of view, I then realised that it is wrong to treat women like they do not exist.”WOMEN HAVE BEEN WRONGEDThis year International Women’s Day on 8 March will highlight the UN Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realising women’s rights.The Beijing initiative focuses on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as taking part in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, in his message for International Women’s Day 2015, said: “When we unleash the power of women, we can secure the future for all.”
The sights and sounds associated with an Olympic Games are very different from any other sporting event in the world.The Olympics are the mother of all sporting events and nothing else even comes close to matching the scale — on or off the field of play.Even when an athlete finishes his or her competition, they can stay at the Games Village till the end of the Games and take in the sights and sounds on display, not to mention watching other athletes strut their stuff against the world’s best.While a lot of Indian athletes, such as bronze medal-winning shuttler Saina Nehwal as well as bronze and silver medal winning shooters, Gagan Narang and Vijay Kumar, have gone back home after the completion of their events, some have stayed back.Indian discus thrower Krishna Poonia is one such athlete who has stayed back — not only watch others compete, but cheer for her contingent.Poonia, who finished seventh in the discus final, enjoyed watching the men’s 100 meters final last week. A couple of days later, she came to the Excel Arena with her husband-cum-coach to cheer for Indian boxing star Vijender Singh.