Aston Villa team-mate: ‘We can’t criticise Grealish if he moves to Spurs’

first_img How Chelsea could line up against Southampton – what system will Lampard play? How the Premier League table could change after the Boxing Day fixtures Chester committed his future to Villa 3 Best clips, calls and talkSPORT moments of 2019, feat Hearn, McCoist and more LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS who plays? Grealish is heavily-linked with a move away possible standings Villa start their Championship campaign on Monday at Chester’s former club Hull, with manager Steve Bruce having been given the full support of the new owners.Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry had been linked with the position following his role as assistant coach with World Cup semi-finalists Belgium.“It’s wonderful that the manager is staying,” Chester said.“There’s not many people better qualified than him to be in charge of such a big club as Aston Villa.“I’ve played for him for a long time at Villa and Hull and I’ve enjoyed my time under him.“I’m delighted that the new owners see him as our manager and there’s a nice buzz around the club.“It’s not ideal when you’re coming into pre-season and reading that the club is in trouble, but the most important thing is we’ve found owners who can take us forward.” Tottenham v Brighton LIVE: talkSPORT commentary and team news for Boxing Day opener “I think Jack is the most talented player at the club and deserves to be playing at the very top of the game,” Chester said.“People forget he is still very young, but we know Villa will be a real threat to anyone in the division if he stays.“It would be sad to see him go and I don’t know if he will now that the ownership of the club has changed.“But I don’t think anyone should hold it against him if he ends up going to a top Premier League club.”The future of Wales international Chester was in doubt this summer as Villa’s financial plight became evident following their defeat to Fulham in the Championship play-off final in May.Stoke reportedly made a £10million bid for the central defender who impressed for Villa last season alongside former England captain John Terry. highlights NEW ERA James Chester has committed his future to Aston Villa but says team-mate Jack Grealish should not be criticised if he leaves for the Premier League.England Under-21 forward Grealish has been a long-time Tottenham target and the 22-year-old could move to north London before the transfer deadline next week. How Man United could line up for Newcastle clash – will Pogba start? How Arsenal could line up in Arteta’s first official game in charge – Ozil return? ALTERED But businessmen Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens have since bought a 55 per cent stake from former owner Tony Xia, and Chester insists his future lies at Villa Park.“I was aware there was interest (from Stoke),” said Chester, 29, speaking at the launch of McDonald’s UK’s new football sponsorship programme in Finchley.“People obviously knew there was a problem at Villa and it was inevitable that players would have to leave unless new owners could be found.“But I certainly did not want to leave. I have loved my time here and I wanted it to continue.“Nothing was accepted and I never had to make a decision about whether my time at Villa was over.” possible xi 3 gameday Tottenham predicted XI to face Brighton with Mourinho expected to make big changes smart causal Every current Premier League club’s best kit from the past decade Bruce has been given the club’s backing 3last_img read more

As cutdown day approaches, a look at top Raiders’ undrafted free agents

first_imgALAMEDA — Having spent nine years with ESPN, Jon Gruden knows a storyline.Before the Raiders got on a plane and left Winnipeg late Thursday night following a 22-21 exhibition win over the Green Bay Packers, Gruden took minor exception to a question about the latest “distraction” of playing out of the country on an 80-yard field.“There’s not as many distractions here as you think or anybody thinks,” Gruden told reporters. “Antonio Brown is doing fine. We’ve got a good, young football team. …last_img

Madison Bumgarner pinch hits in Giants’ season finale against Clayton Kershaw

first_imgBumgarner worked the count to 3-2 before … Click here if you’re unable to view the photo gallery on your mobile device.SAN FRANCISCO — Madison Bumgarner was not going to pitch in Bruce Bochy’s final game.But he wasn’t going to miss a chance to grab a bat and take a swing.Bumgarner appeared as a pinch-hitter in the Giants’ last regular season game against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who came out of the bullpen to face San Francisco in the bottom of the fifth inning on Sunday.last_img

SA ballet shines in dark times

first_imgSABT cast dancing in Coppelia, an acclaimed French romance ballet. (Image: SABT) SABT dancers Yolandi Olckers and Patrick Mngeni at a rehearsal. (Image: Bongani Nkosi) Teenagers from Alexandra township honing their skills at SABT studios in Braamfontein. (Image: Bongani Nkosi) MEDIA CONTACTS • Fiona Budd Co-director South African Ballet Theatre +27 11 877 6898 RELATED ARTICLES • South African theatre • Soweto’s state-of-the-art theatre • Celebrating heritage with dance • Robyn Orlin – dancing up a stormBongani NkosiThe South African Ballet Theatre (SABT) may be limping from the economic downturn, but it’s not letting that tarnish its reputation as the country’s most treasured and prolific classical dance company.The global recession is largely to blame for the company’s financial crisis, said SABT co-founder and director Fiona Budd. The theatre survives on funding, but the recession has led to a number of benefactors pulling out.Some of the former funders have resorted to supporting community establishments such as orphanages due to “social pressure”, and sponsorships of the 2010 Fifa World Cup “have also impacted us”, Budd added.Although the SABT is debt-free, it recently announced that it is facing threatening financial challenges and desperately needs funding. Due to this it’s had to put all activities on hold, including an exchange programme to Cairo, Egypt.The company launched an appeal for sponsorship in November and a number of generous individuals and companies have already responded, giving it a boost of R1.3-million (US$172 211). But this is just a fraction of the SABT’s annual budget of R12-million ($1.6-million), which includes monthly salaries of its dancers and management staff. It relies on funding for two-thirds of its budget.“If everyone gives a little we can do a lot,” said Budd.What’s even more encouraging, according to Budd, is that some donors have contributed far more than the asking sum of R2 000 ($264). Standard Bank made a donation of R10 000 ($1 325). Other companies that have responded to the call include South African Breweries, Air France, Sappi, First National Bank and Absa.Scores of individuals have also made significant contributions, including Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron, world-renowned artist William Kentridge and many others. The South African public is also being urged to participate by sending a mobile text message with the letters “SABT” to 39969. Fifteen rand (about $2) will be donated to the company for every message received.“The campaign is promising. We hope that companies will inspire each other,” Budd said. “A number of people are phoning in offering their help.”One business owner, who SABT wishes to keep anonymous, donated R1-million ($132 469).As a gesture of appreciation the theatre will give all contributing companies a 20% discount on tickets for its 2010 seasons.Making ballet productions more accessibleThe SABT has become increasingly reliant on outside funding because it has cut ticket prices to make productions more accessible to local audiences. “If we were to charge what we are supposed to charge no one would come to our seasons,” Budd said.Attendance has been impressive over the years, with each season attracting between 10 000 and 15 000 people. But revenue from ticket sales covers just a quarter of the SABT’s budget.“People [tend to] think that because the ballet company is glamorous it has a lot of money, which is not the case,” Budd said.The company is also appealing to government for funding. “We are a national asset. [The company] is a platform that is used to showcase South Africa’s talent and something that the government can be proud of.”Irrespective of the funding campaign’s outcome, the company won’t give up. “We are determined that we will never let it die. We are prepared to do whatever to keep it going.”“It’s better if we go through difficult times now and then pick up again,” Budd said.No stranger to adversityThe company has become a force to be reckoned with in South Africa’s dance industry since its establishment eight years ago. It was set up after the State Theatre Ballet in Pretoria closed down in 2000, and all the country’s top ballet dancers were retrenched.Their fervent passion for South African dance meant that early retirement or emigration weren’t options, so they came up with creative strategies to form a new, independent ballet company.The more experienced dancers – Angela Malan, Dirk Badenhorst, Karen Beukes, Iain MacDonald, Kimbrian Bergh and Budd – formed the steering committee of the new company, which came into being in January 2001. “We just jumped into the deep end,” said Budd. “It was a sacrifice.”Their first plan was to assemble a team of danseurs and ballerinas to stage a production at the State Theatre as soon as was possible. The theatre paid them in advance, ensuring that the team had an income.In March 2001 the SABT staged the timeless classic Giselle, which was hugely popular with attendance as high as 94%. “After that funding and sponsorships started coming in,” Budd said.Giselle was followed by “a very well-received” tour to the cities of Port Elizabeth, East London, Welkom and Bloemfontein.During their first few months the SABT also staged productions in established theatres such as the Playhouse in Durban and the Joburg Theatre. Their 2001 season of Swan Lake sold out completely.The company continued to grow over the years, and in 2004 it moved into its new studios in Braamfontein at the Joburg Theatre. It has a contract with the theatre to use the facilities until 2012. “For a start we had our own facilities. We’re fortunate to be located here,” Budd said.“The theatre is accessible. It has rejuvenated the whole area,” said SABT spokesperson Samantha Saevitzon.The SABT has wooed audiences at home and abroad, rating its 2006 performance in Moscow, Russia, as “the most memorable”.“We had a standing ovation – that was incredible,” Budd said.Its impressive reputation means it often attracts top international dancers. Humberto Montero – one of SABT’s seven soloists – is from Mexico, while fellow soloist Roberto Curti is from Italy. Senior Corps de Ballet members Guy Wheatstone and Hyun Kyung Cho are from the UK and Korea respectively.“We get applications from almost every country in the world, Cuba, China, India and many others … We’re recognised internationally for our work, people know that there is this ballet company sitting at the bottom tip of Africa,” Budd said.Developing talentSince its inception the SABT has worked hard at grooming potential stars, setting up the Graduates Programme in 2001 to for this purpose.The programme is a full-time, year-long course. The students, who have to have completed high school, are selected through auditions and trained by senior principal dancer Angela Malan and Russian-born ballet master Alexei Ilin.The SABT has selected 13 aspiring dancers for its 2010 programme. The annual auditions attract young dancers from all over South Africa, Saevitzon said.As part of the programme the SABT gives its student dancers supporting roles in productions and offers various dance-related subjects to study. Those who shine throughout the course are employed as members of the Corps de Ballet and have a chance to grow in the company.“That’s our aim, we want to have more home-grown talent,” Budd said.The SABT has a strong social conscience and offers free ballet classes to 300 Johannesburg youngsters in the disadvantaged areas of Alexandra, Soweto, Katlehong and Sophiatown; and in Pretoria’s Mamelodi and Eesterus townships. It also offers free lessons in Melville and various other areas around Johannesburg.For its efforts the company received the 2007 Proudly South African Nation Builder of the Year award.The goal of the SABT’s outreach programme is to train young dancers so that they can go on to join the company or become professionals in other theatres. Budd said that some of them, being teenagers of around 14 and 15 years, will be ready to become junior professionals by the time they finish high school.Promising dancers in the outreach programme are offered free extra lessons at the SABT’s Braamfontein studios. At least twice a week a group of 12 are bused in from Alexandra to get special training with Ilin.“Definitely, the most talented will join our company. In Alexandra there are these two boys who are extremely talented,” said Budd.Passion for classical balletBuilding on its initial success with Swan Lake and Giselle, the SABT has grown fond of staging all-time favourites, which also include Coppelia, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. “Our audiences love the classics,” Budd said.Because these productions bring in the numbers, the company has stopped doing new productions – they are just not financially viable. “If we do Swan Lake, for instance, we sell 15 000 tickets.”“We are very good at performing the classics. Our dancers love them because they are very challenging [to perform],” Saevitzon added.Despite its financial constraints, the SABT will stage two seasons next year at the Joburg Theatre. Swan Lake will be performed in March and the ballet adaptation of Carmen will run in August.last_img read more

South Africa’s first wine tourism exhibition

first_imgWine tourism will finally get its own official exhibition when the Vindaba takes place in September next year. (Image: Franschhoek Wine Route) MEDIA CONTACTS • André Morgenthal  Wosa communications manager  +27 21 883 3860 or +27 82 658 3883 RELATED ARTICLES • Wine route celebrates 40 years • SA wine farms invest in biodiversity • SA, France toast to wine exchange • SA wine bottles to lighten up • SA wines lead ‘green’ label driveShamin ChibbaTwo of South Africa’s leading industries, wine and tourism, will combine for the country’s first ever wine tourism exhibition.The Vindaba takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) in September next year and will run parallel with the Cape Wine exhibition at the same venue.The exhibition, backed by both national and provincial governments, will target the international travel trade as well as wine, travel and lifestyle media.According to André Morgenthal, Wines of South Africa’s (Wosa) communications manager, the Vindaba will look to exhibit the hotels, restaurants, wine routes, tour operators and farms that are linked to the wine industry.As South Africa is considered a world leader in eco-sustainable wine production, organisers aim to promote Vindaba as a green initiative by using recycled and recyclable materials.The Vindaba is the brainchild of Wosa, South African Tourism, Cape Town Tourism, Wine Routes, Cape Town Routes Unlimited and the Department of Finance, Tourism and Economic Development of the Western Cape.Morgenthal explained that the CTICC was chosen as a venue because it is able to accommodate the exhibition’s expected 1 000+ guests and more than 320 wineries and 100 travel trade organisations.Though the Vindaba and Cape Wine are taking place at the same time, Morgenthal said they target two different industries. The former looks to attract international tour operators who specifically offer wine tours, while the latter targets wine traders.SA part of the global wine tourism industryWine tourism contributes R5-billion (US$720-million) of the local wine industry’s annual R22-billion ($3.2-billion) turnover.Speaking at a stakeholder’s workshop in April this year, tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said wine tourism is currently one of the fastest growing sectors in the global tourism market. He further stated that it should be central in marketing South Africa as a long-haul destination.Van Schalkwyk added that wine tourism provides the country with a competitive edge when it comes to the global tourism market, especially over destinations such as Brazil, Kenya, Australia and Thailand.Another South African advantage is that the majority of vineyards are concentrated in the Western Cape, making travelling easier for tourists.With an organised wine tourism sector, more jobs will be created in an industry that already employs as much as 275 000 workers.Wine tourism’s long road to approvalThough wine tourism has been part of South Africa’s tourism setup since 1971, when the Stellenbosch wine route was launched, it has never received the marketing treatment that Vindaba promises.Morgenthal has spent nine of his 10 years in the wine industry trying to persuade relevant parties to believe in the value of wine tourism. “I was bashing my head and knocking on doors to officialise wine tourism.”He believes a lack of resources delayed its recognition as a worthwhile investment. He added that the industry had to mature over time before its intrinsic and financial value became evident.The phenomenon of wine tourismThe global growth of wine tourism can be attributed to the influence of the media, said Morgenthal, who believes genres such as the internet and television have played massive roles in shaping the public’s perception of wine in the last five years.He said people have become so interested in lifestyle and cooking shows that entire television networks are now dedicated to such shows. Thanks to these networks and the internet, the lifestyle attached to food and wine has become easily accessible.People, said Morgenthal, are willing to spend money on trips to vineyards that produce their favourite wines.“They want to get closer to the real thing, for the experience beyond the bottle. They want to be part of the process. When they are there, the wine tastes better.”Additionally, a trip to a vineyard educates enthusiasts who want to know more about wine.Morgenthal said some vineyards are finding creative ways to lure consumers by offering mountain bike rides, horse rides and even jungle gyms for children, therefore compelling the consumer to extend their visit.last_img read more