Although he did not want to advance names on the possible substitute for Murcia, the blue and white coach confirmed that “the plans in the market vary, because before we looked for a profile and now we are looking for two. It is very difficult because Isi is a great player, but we will try to find something similar. ” On the other hand, he said that “we think we have found what we wanted in another profile (a striker), but let’s see if everything goes well.” The Ponferradina coach, Jon Pérez Bolo, admitted Friday at the press conference prior to the match against Alcorcón that the departure of Isi to Rayo Vallecano “It is an important decline, but we knew what could happen and we have a plan B. Let’s see if we want to do what we want to do.” Bolo spared no praise for the player, despite the penalty for his departure: “The circumstances are these and we can only accept them. We are happy for him and it is a pride that a team like Lightning takes notice of us, because it will be that we are doing things right. I can only thank Isi both in sports, for everything she has contributed, as personally. We are leaving a friend and we wish him the best ”. Bolo also acknowledged that he expects ‘to lose weight’ in the remainder of the month after working with 26 players during the first part of the championship: “There are too many players, although we have done well. We do not know how many there will be on February 1, we have talked with some players to find a way out and they can have the minutes here we do not see how to give them, even if they deserve them. It is something that is in your hand, if you decide to stay, I will not fault you, but you know it will be difficult for you to play. ” On the other hand, confirmed that Oscar Sielva will be at eleven in Santo Domingo Once recovered from his injury, while waiting for Saturday’s training to assess whether the last to arrive, René and Iván Rodríguez, enter the call.Silvano celebrates his 20 years in the presidencyLa Ponferradina paid a small tribute yesterday to its president, José Fernández Nieto, on the occasion of his 20 years at the head of the club. Under his mandate, Ponferradina went from fighting to remain in Second B in 2000 to enter professional football, where he has played six of the last ten seasons. Silvano, as he is popularly known, expressed his desire to celebrate the centenary of the club in 2022 “with the Ponferradina as high as possible.”In the event were present, in addition to the members of the current staff and the workers of the club, the president of the Federation of Castile and Leon of Football, Marcelino Maté, and the coach who achieved the first ascent to Second Division in 2006, Pichi Luke.
Ronaldo Nazario counted on DAZN Italy an anecdote hitherto unknown about how his departure from Barcelona. Everyone knows that the Brazilian, after making a historic season in the Barcelona in which he finished as top scorer of the Spanish league and winner of the European Cup Winners Cup, he left at Inter de Milan for an amount of stratospheric money at that time, the 4,000 million of its termination clause. However, he himself acknowledges that his intention was to renew, but that the Barca club chaired by Josep Lluis Núñez, backed out in a matter of days: “I would have signed a renewal contract at the end of the season and I left with the Brazilian team. Five days later, they called me to tell me that they could not continue with the renewal. It was never in my hands. I wanted to stay.” . The forward says he was forced to leave when the negotiations broke down and that he wanted to continue wearing Barca: “If the club did not value me as I thought, then the decision was not in my hands. I would have liked to stay but it did not depend on me.” The former player confessed that it was Roberto Carlos who convinced him that playing at Real Madrid was a great idea, although it took years to follow his advice: “I played with Roberto Carlos in Brazil and he told me everything that Real Madrid represented and his experience there. It stuck in my mind and after a few years I wanted to see it with my own eyes.” He also acknowledges that he exceeded his expectations: “I came to Madrid and it was even better than what Roberto Carlos had told me, bigger than I could imagine. It’s Real Madrid. There is great expectation and great pressure. Of course, there are also the best players in the world. I I was delighted to discover a huge club and could help make it even bigger. “ The president of Valladolid He also talked about ‘Galactic’, which in addition to offering a great show within the playing fields, made the club’s business models evolve in terms of transfers: “There was a lot of expectation for the ‘Galactics’. In the end we gave a lot of show being a winning generation and we changed the way we do business in football. Since then, clubs have generated more money and sold better to their players. That was the big change in the new era of football. “Finally, the Brazilian could not say in which team the best Ronaldo was seen, although he acknowledges that he was happy in all the clubs in which he was until his retirement: “However, I couldn’t tell you which version of me was better. I enjoyed all of them, of course. I love playing football and I love football. I think it’s a question more for the fans than for me. I tried to do my best. throughout my career. “
…Guyana’s high unemployment rate has economic, social implications – RamThree years after the coalition Government took office, it has been unable to effectively address the current high unemployment rate and according to the Finance Ministry’s Finance Secretary Michael Joseph the firing of 7000 sugar workers along with others has put a burden on the National Insurance Scheme.Chartered Accountant Christopher RamSpeaking at the opening night of the University of Guyana Turkeyen and Tain talks on Thursday at the Pegasus hotel, Joseph said, “what has happened since is that this Government has fired 7000 sugar workers, many others. Let’s say maybe 20,000 more have lost their jobs. Take of the 20,000, just take another 8000 who were paying NIS, so those are people who are not contributing to NIS,” he explained.This, he said, translates to decreased inflow for NIS and a pay-out that would remain constant or increase. In the last financial statement issued by the Scheme, it had shown a deficit of over $800 million.Finance Secretary Michael JosephThen there are the almost 2000 Amerindian Community Support Officers (CSO) who were dismissed soon after the coalition Government came to power in 2015. These officers were previously employed under the Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Programme (YEAP).This led to the Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana taking the Government to court, arguing that the dismissals were unlawful and discriminatory. The group in its affidavit had noted that the CSO’s were drawn from approximately 187 Amerindian villages and communities.It was also noted that these CSO’s were afforded steady employment until the coalition Government’s action. For its part, the Government has argued that the programme was not performing on par in a bid to justify the dismissals.In addition to the over 7000 sugar workers who were fired from Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and the CSO’s who were dismissed by Government, Barama Company Limited was also forced to close its operations after several of its concessions were taken back by Government. This created further unemployment.At the same time, the Finance Secretary backed his subject Minister, Winston Jordan, who had noted previously that Government cannot provide employment for all. According to Joseph, youths should also look to entrepreneurship as a means of income.Tax collection is not the only thing taking a hit when there is large-scale unemployment, as National Insurance Scheme contributions are also affected. For instance, concern has been expressed that layoffs in the sugar belt could undermine the Scheme’s position.This is particularly so if the Scheme were to pay unemployment benefits. At a previous press conference, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had said that the idea of paying out these benefits did not take into account the current financial status of the Scheme and its ability to meet its current obligations.He noted that the last actuarial report recommended that focus is placed on building the reserve to avoid a deficit. In fact, it was disclosed in that report that the life of the Scheme should come to an end by 2022 unless strategic plans for revenue earnings and expansion of the investment portfolio are effectively implemented. Jagdeo also referenced the thousands of dismissed sugar workers.TaxesTalking about tax collection, Joseph expressed concern about youth unemployment and the impact it has on taxable income and noted the serious effect unemployment has on this process.“Taxes are the lifeline of the Government’s income stream to pay for the provision of public goods. The income base of households and the Private Sector largely constitute the pool by which Government can tax and raise money.”“That pool is taxable income [and] is dwarfed by the large-scale incidence of unemployment and insufficient start-ups to replace business failures. Indeed, joblessness narrows the potential base from which Government can collect income tax and undermines the capacity of the Government.”Joseph also cited the 2017 Labour Force Survey commissioned by Guyana’s Bureau of Statistics. This survey had found that Guyana’s employment rate was a worrying 49.2 per cent.“It was empirically determined that youth unemployment among the 15 to 24-year-old cohort was at 21.6 per cent, representing almost twice the unemployment rate of other adults. This survey confirmed that 35.2 per cent of the youth were not in education, employment or training.”High unemployment rateIn an interview with this publication, on the high unemployment rate in Guyana, Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram spoke of some of the reasons for Guyana’s low employment rate and also expressed the belief that not enough attention is being paid to its economic and social side.“Part of the problem we have is that we have a very low wage economy,” Ram said, adding “and it discourages people entering into the employment sector. If you get the minimum wage and you have to spend 20 per cent of it on transportation alone, it’s not a great motivator for you to work”.“(This) is why we have the paradox of employment and yet it is difficult to get people with even the basic skills. The rate these people earn, they say they might as well hustle here and there, rather than getting involved in the formal economy, having to pay NIS and income tax.”According to the accountant, many do not see their National Insurance Scheme (NIS) in the positive light of being a contribution to their future pension, but rather they see it as a deduction from an already small salary. He noted that another factor that must be considered is how effectively the school system prepares students to enter the workforce. Ram expressed worry about the impact of joblessness and the oil and gas sector.“I think we will have a major challenge in the next couple years. We already have a challenge, in terms of providing the labour necessary not only for the oil industry but for all the spin-off industries. We mustn’t forget we don’t have a Ministry of Labour. Employment is partly economic and partly social.”>>>>>>>>Worry>>>>>>>>Observers have also expressed worry about the link between unemployment as a signifier of the gradual erosion of the traditional sectors of the economy due to neglect by the Government as they wait for oil revenues to start flowing. This will inevitably lead to the dreaded Dutch disease, where the economy cannot stand on one leg. This is most graphically illustrated over the past few years, in the sugar industry where production has dwindled with the dismissal of the sugar workers and the Government has not diversified the prime agricultural lands into other crops to create employment and generate foreign exchange by exporting those crops.In general, Dutch disease is an economic term for rapid changes to a country’s revenue earnings in a resource-extracting sector like oil that results in a reduction in the value of other exported commodities. The situation is often blamed on the sudden development of one sector at the expense of others.
Madagascar captain Faneva Andriatsima nodded the Indian Ocean islanders back ahead with a quarter-hour remaining only for Chancel Mbemba to haul DR Congo level at a corner in the final minute.Marcel Tisserand and Yannick Bolasie both blazed over for DR Congo in the shootout as Madagascar prevailed 4-2 with their reward a meeting with four-time winners Ghana or 2004 champions Tunisia for a place in the semi-finals.“I want to congratulate my players, particularly after we had to deal with that equaliser right in the last minute of normal time,” said Madagascar coach Nicolas Dupuis.“We weren’t quite as good as we were against Nigeria. We lacked a bit of juice but our opponents created us a lot of problems for us.”He added: “I think 25 million will be partying at home. We want to go as far as possible and enjoy it.”Marco Ilaimaharitra’s suspension forced Dupuis to alter his line-up for the first time in the tournament with Rayan Raveloson deputising in midfield for a team that shocked Nigeria 2-0 to advance as group winners.Britt Assombalonga replaced the injured Jonathan Bolingi in the lone change to the DR Congo side that trounced Zimbabwe 4-0, with captain Youssouf Mulumbu describing their qualification as a “miracle” following two opening losses.– Amada rocket –Madagascar’s players could hardly believe they have managed to go so far in the Africa Cup of Nations © AFP / JAVIER SORIANOMadagascan President Andry Rajoelina chartered a 480-seater plane to take fans to Egypt, and the travelling support were soon rejoicing when Amada blasted a sensational 25-yard strike that tailed away from Ley Matampi and flew in off the post.The jubilant celebrations were halted midway through the first half though when Bakambu slipped free of the Madagascar centre-backs to glance in Glody Ngonda’s bending cross.Mbemba smashed over as another left-wing cross found the Malagasy defence in trouble, but this was a far more balanced contest than the last meeting — a 6-1 triumph for DR Congo in a 2017 Cup of Nations qualifier.That hiding was the darkest day in Malagasy football history but they have undergone a dramatic transformation, and nearly regained the lead 10 minutes after the break when Jerome Mombris embarked on a driving run, his shot spilled by Matampi with Charles Andriamahitsinoro agonisingly hitting the rebound wide.A battling Madagascar eventually regained the lead against a nation ranked 59 places above them when Andriatsima flung himself at a Romain Metanire cross following a superb long-busting run from the right-back.Bolasie’s tumble in the area provoked furious protests from DR Congo, with VAR not in use until the next round, but the Leopards conjured up another escape act in the 90th minute as an unmarked Mbemba headed in a corner to force extra time.Madagascar goalkeeper Melvin Adrien kept his team level in extra time with a string of vital saves, the best an instinctive one-handed stop to repel another Mbemba header, while some desperate defending allowed the ‘Barea’ to take it to a shootout and add a further chapter to their Egyptian fairytale.0Shares0000(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Madagascar’s shootout win over DR Congo sent them into the quarter-finals in their first ever appearance in the Africa Cup of Nations © AFP / JAVIER SORIANOALEXANDRIA, Egypt, Jul 7 – Africa Cup of Nations debutants Madagascar kept their remarkable run going on Sunday with a penalty shootout victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo after a 2-2 draw to secure a place in the quarter-finals.Ibrahim Amada’s wonder strike put Madagascar ahead just nine minutes in at Alexandria Stadium but DR Congo responded swiftly as China-based forward Cedric Bakambu headed home his third goal in two matches.
“Our opinion should by no means be read to imply that the General Assembly may not grant and recognize for homosexual persons civil unions or the right to marry a person of the same sex,” Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. wrote for the majority. Plaintiffs said that the judges missed a historic opportunity to strike down a discriminatory law. Legislators on both sides of the debate predicted action on the issue in the next session. The heavily Democratic Legislature has passed several gay-rights laws in recent years but has not voted on legalizing same-sex marriage or civil unions. “I think history will hold them in contempt,” plaintiff Lisa Polyak said of the judges. “To create a legal solution in a vacuum, that doesn’t recognize that the constitution is there to support the people, is to create an ignorant and irrelevant solution.” State Sen. Richard Madaleno, who is openly gay, said he plans to introduce a bill to allow same-sex marriage. He also expects a proposal to create civil unions. “I think we’ll have a lengthy discussion next session about what the options are for legal recognition for gay people,” Madaleno said. By Ben Nuckols THE ASSOCIATED PRESS BALTIMORE – Plaintiffs vowed to take the fight over gay marriage in Maryland to the Legislature after the state’s highest court threw out a suit challenging a law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. In a 4-3 decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s 1973 ban on gay marriage does not discriminate on the basis of gender and does not deny any fundamental rights guaranteed by the state constitution. The court also found that the state has a legitimate interest in promoting opposite-sex marriage. Don Dwyer, one of the General Assembly’s most conservative members, said he would introduce a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as “insurance.” The ACLU of Maryland, which provided legal representation for the plaintiffs, said the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland would continue. Many of the plaintiffs have children, and they argue that their families are being denied the stability and legal protection that comes from having married parents. Lisa Kebreau, 39, and partner Mikki Mozelle, 31, who live in Riverdale, have three children – ages 20 months, 2 and 17. “We really wanted them to understand how normal and good their family is – that their family is just like any other family,” Kebreau said. Nine same-sex couples and a gay man whose partner died filed the lawsuit in 2004 against court clerks who denied their applications for marriage licenses. Baltimore Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock in January struck down the law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, but the state immediately appealed. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Donegal have recorded their first Allianz National League win away from home in Division One for seven years – as they hammered an out-of-sorts Down outfit in Newry this evening.Michael Murphy gave an exhibition of free-taking in the first-half, and scored an incredible six points. Scores from Ciaran Thompson and Patrick McBrearty (2) ensured Donegal were in a commanding position at half-time.Rory Gallagher selected Aodh Ruadh shot-stopper Peter Boyle ahead of Danny Rodgers – and Boyle made a stunning penalty save in the first-half.Neil McGee was black-carded for a foul on Ryan Johnston – but Boyle stopped the resulting penalty from Donal O’Hare.Donegal went in at the interval six points ahead on a score-line of Donegal 0-09 Down 0-03. Donegal pushed on the second-half and delivered an utterly ruthless display.Donegal scored two goals in two minutes to end this game as a contest early in the second-half.Ryan McHugh made a stunning run through the heart of the weary Down defence – and played a neat one-two with cousin Eoin before slamming into the back of the net.Less than sixty seconds later Down were again picking the ball out of their net – this time McBrearty was the tormentor in chief.He was released by Anthony Thompson and he skinned his marker to blast into the back of the net.Donegal completed dominated proceedings and added further points through McBrearty and Leo McLoone (2). Ryan McHugh who had a superb game all evening got another great goal after a flowing team move involving Marty O’Reilly and Michael Murphy.Michael Murphy got in the act late-on again and added a further two points to bring his tally for the evening to eight.One of the biggest cheers of the night from Donegal fans was reserved for Rory Kavanagh who entered the fray late-on.Down were just no match for Donegal who were absolutely fantastic throughout – there will be tougher challenges ahead for Rory Gallagher’s men – but it’s a great, great start. Final score: Donegal 3-15 Down 0-07MAJESTIC DONEGAL DELIVER SUPERB PERFORMANCE AS THEY HAMMER DOWN was last modified: January 30th, 2016 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)
Sergio Aguero has five goals in seven Premier League games this season 3 Raheem Sterling is expected to start against his former club Green reveals how he confronted Sarri after Chelsea’s 6-0 defeat at Man City huge blow 3 Pep Guardiola says comparisons between Mo Salah and Sergio Aguero are premature.The Manchester City boss claims the Liverpool star must remain consistent for the next “seven or eight years” to be talked about alongside Aguero. Mo Salah has scored three times in six Premier League games this season Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers another setback as Klopp confirms serious injury REVEALED gameday cracker City were beaten 3-0 in that Champions League quarter-final first leg after conceding three times in the space of 19 minutes in the first half.It was a similar story for City in the Premier League encounter at the same ground in January, when three goals in nine second-half minutes proved their downfall in a 4-3 loss.They were rare blips in an outstanding season and Guardiola is determined to prevent Liverpool building momentum in such fashion again by fighting fire with fire.He said: “The problem was in the Premier League we conceded three in five or six minutes. It went 2-1, 3-1, 4-1. We have to avoid that because it’s Anfield.“With our luck we have to score goals at Anfield. I think they are going to score goals. At Anfield if you don’t score goals it is complicated. If we don’t score goals we are not going to win.” deals England’s most successful clubs of the past decade, according to trophies won REVEALED “He (Salah) is younger and it was his first year back in England since his time at Chelsea, so we will see in the future,” said Guardiola, talking ahead of City’s trip to Liverpool on Sunday.“But a guy who has the quality to score 50 goals in a season always has that quality. But football is all about ups and downs.“Salah remains an excellent player and will score goals in the future. When you are in there scenting goals sometimes this happens.“Sergio has scored a lot of goals but there were periods when he didn’t score goals.“How many years has Sergio scored all those goals, eight or nine years? For Salah it was the first one so we will see in seven or eight years.”Guardiola, meanwhile, insists he has no concerns about starting Raheem Sterling at his former club.Sterling has received hostile receptions and struggled in games back at Anfield since leaving the Reds for City in 2015. Real Madrid ‘offer’ Isco to Chelsea in bid to ‘make room’ for Tottenham star shining Latest Premier League News 3 Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? Son ban confirmed as Tottenham fail with appeal to overturn red card Premier League Team of the Season so far, including Liverpool and Leicester stars REAL DEAL Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won Boxing Day fixtures: All nine Premier League games live on talkSPORT Despite being one of City’s key players throughout last season, the England international was used only as a second-half substitute when the sides met on Merseyside in the Champions League quarter-finals in April.But Guardiola claims that was a tactical decision and he is not shielding the 23-year-old, who he expects will learn to cope with the challenges of returning to his old stomping ground.City travel to Anfield this weekend in an eagerly anticipated early-season clash of the Premier League’s top two sides.Guardiola said: “The reason why last time he didn’t play was for other reasons, tactical. What I wanted to do was have Kyle Walker on the right side attacking more than him. That was the plan. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.“I don’t think about that (crowd reaction). Even if that happens – maybe it affects him, maybe not – but being so young, he has to learn about that.“When he has been a player for us for a long time, and hopefully it will be for a long time, sooner or later he will go many times to Anfield.“He grew up there, he has a good memories about his period there. Of course the Liverpool fans want (him) to play bad, and he has played bad but he wants to play good. Normally I don’t do it for that reason.” tense Salah had an outstanding debut season for Liverpool, scoring 32 goals in 36 Premier League games in 2017/18, although hasn’t yet looked at his very best this term.Guardiola rates the Egyptian highly, however he says the Reds ace has some way to go to match his own star forward, Aguero.The Argentine is City’s all-time top scorer, having found the net 148 times since his arrival in England in 2011. no dice silverware Man United transfer news live: Haaland ‘wants a change’, two players off in January
BALLYSHANNON and the surrounding area could be transferred to Leitrim, if Labour proposals are given the go-ahead.Yesterday morning donegaldaily revealed that Donegal will lose a TD in an electoral shake-up – and one 5-seat constituency would replace the current two in proposals put forward by Fine Gael.Now Labour has backed that plan – and wants Ballyhshannon transferred to Leitrim. Senator Jimmy Harte says the population of Donegal doesn’t justify two three-seat constituencies, and wants the Ballyshannon electoral area and its 8,000 inhabitants should be transferred to Leitrim.It will be like going back in time for the town – it was ‘in Leitrim’ from 1977 to 1981 when Donegal was a single five-seat constituency.Leitrim-based councillors and TDs and citizens also suggested that part of south Donegal could be added to a new constituency. BALLYSHANNON TO BE ‘KICKED OUT OF DONEGAL’ IN CONSTITUENCY SHAKE-UP was last modified: January 13th, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Ballyshannonjimmy harte
Click here if you’re unable to view the gallery on your mobile device.The Giants and Redwood Shores-based Oracle Corp. officially announced a 20-year naming rights deal Thursday, immediately transforming AT&T Park into Oracle Park.For now, the biggest change was an Oracle Park banner put up near Willie Mays’ statue in front of the park.While the official signage won’t go onto the stadium for a few months, it’s already easy to see the Giants’ long-term benefit of the agreement — they’ll …
Photographer Jessica Hilltout believes thatin Africa football is not a religion, buteverything a religion should be. “Amongst the many things that I havelearnt from this book, is that getting ormaking that ball is no simple task,” writesUK sports journalist and author DavidGoldblatt of Amen. “On the contrary, it isemblematic of the inventiveness, diligence, creativity and single-minded focus ofAfricans in particular, but of poorcommunities everywhere.” “The people with whom I worked were allessential to this project,” says Hilltout.“Once they understood the message I wastrying to portray, once I’d gained theirtrust, they gave me more than I couldever have dreamed.”(Images: Jessica Hilltout)MEDIA CONTACTS• Jessica Hilltout+32 487 39 40 email@example.com• www.jessicahilltout.com• www.jessicahilltout.com/amen• www.jessicahilltout.com/roadbookNicky RehbockWith the spotlight firmly fixed on South Africa during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, it’s easy to forget what the game of football is like elsewhere on the continent – played far, far away from glitzy stadiums, often in remote dusty villages with hand-made balls, bare feet and a couple of crooked sticks for goal posts.This is what photographer Jessica Hilltout is trying to show. Her recently launched book, Amen, seeks to draw attention to the spirit of grassroots football in Africa, and the highly dedicated players and teams that follow the game as if it were a religion.Gallery: Grassroots African football“All the people who live and will remain in the shadow of the World Cup deserve to have a light shone on them, not just for their passion for the game, but more so for the fundamental energy and enthusiasm that shines through the way they live,” she says.In this regard her work delves deeper than the sport itself: “This book is not just about football, or indeed about football in Africa. It is a book that tries to capture the beauty and strength of the human spirit. It pays homage to Africa. It is a tribute to the forgotten, to the majority,” Ogilvy & Mather’s creative director Ian Brower writes in the introduction.“Africa is a world like no other … there lies a passion for the festival, a reason to rejoice. These moments are centred around music and football. Often the two go hand in hand. Football is the one activity that costs nothing.”So be itHilltout believes, and has largely based her work on the premise, that in Africa, football is not a religion, but everything a religion should be. “Football is the glue in Africa – it’s a necessity,” she says.“In every little village, no matter how far off the main road, I’d find people playing football at sunrise and sunset. One small village could have as many as five football fields. Waking up at dawn I’d join the players and spectators gathering together on the football field, like we were congregating at a shrine or a temple. There was a true sense of devotion to the game.”The book’s title is also based on this sentiment. “Amen is a four-letter word, the same in every language. It means ‘so be it’,” Hilltout says.“This is very pertinent to Africa in terms of how people accept their fate, with pride and dignity, tough as it may be. It was also the word I heard the most during my trip. When I would leave groups I had been working with, they would say to me: ‘Amen, amen. May this project work. Amen, amen.’ ”A life on the roadHilltout, who was born in Belgium in 1977, is no stranger to travelling and a life on the road. As a child her family moved around a lot and spent time in the Seychelles, US, Canada, Hong Kong and South Africa.After studying photography in Blackpool, UK, and a brief stint in advertising in Europe, she bought an old Toyota Land Cruiser with her boyfriend in 2002 and made a 15-month trip from Belgium to Mongolia.Following this, the two shipped the car to South Africa’s port of Durban and drove up through Africa, back to Brussels. Throughout the journey, Hilltout kept log books and a photographic record of the regions and places she explored.“Although there was no thread holding my work together at that stage, it was the foundation of what I am trying to express now: highlighting the value of simple, banal things – that stuff that people usually overlook. My first photographic project that held any ground was called the Beauty of Imperfection, which Amen is linked to. It also pays tribute to the imperfect.”Return to AfricaIt was Christmas 2008, back in Europe, when the upcoming 2010 Fifa World Cup sparked the idea of a grassroots football book for Hilltout and her dad, who ended up working with her on the project. “We thought, that with this huge event happening for Africa as a continent, why don’t we show everyone what football means in the little villages, cities and towns across Africa, the places that aren’t going to be the focus tournament?”For the project, Hilltout concentrated on Southern and West Africa, covering about 20 000km between South Africa, Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger and Côte d’Ivoire.“There was no real planning for the trip. Nothing had really been pre-arranged. I got on a flight to Cape Town from Brussels, and with me was a Hasselblad with one 80mm lens, 300 rolls of film, a digital camera, my log books, a mini printer and a stock of new footballs. I packed this all into an old VW Beetle that was equipped with a roof rack, three spare tyres, two jerry cans and a higher suspension.”Southern Africa was a natural choice because Hilltout’s dad had the Beetle stored in Cape Town, so she borrowed it for that portion of the trip, but West Africa was a more spontaneous choice.“I decided to go to West Africa because I had never covered that region before … and I knew there were lots of big football countries there, like Ghana and Ivory Coast – so I just flew to Accra. Once I arrived there I bought a Nissan Vanette and kitted it out with four big boxes: one for footballs, one for food and the other two for clothes and film. The whole trip was done on gut-feeling. I would literally arrive in a village … start talking to people … show them my log books with the ideas I had for the project … then off we’d go.“All in all I spent seven months on the road and worked in about 20 different places across the two regions. Each place has a story to it, and that’s covered in the book. There are stories about the guys who fixed boots in the villages, the guy who took in hard-up youngsters and mentored them, and the guy who owns a ‘football cinema’ in West Africa that’s built of mud and sticks, but it can seat 60 fans – and you can even get a fried egg and cup of coffee in there while watching the game!“After this I returned to Europe to put it all together. In total I spent about two years on the project.”Communicating with locals wasn’t too much of a problem for Hilltout, as she speaks English, French and Spanish, but she admits things were a little difficult in Mozambique, as she couldn’t converse in Portuguese. “I drafted a letter and got it translated from Spanish into Portuguese and addressed to the chiefs of the villages I intended visiting.”The contacts she made in the bigger towns, who she says became “her very good friends”, helped her connect with communities in far-off places and translated when only an African language was spoken.“The people with whom I worked were all essential to this project. Once they understood the message I was trying to portray, once I’d gained their trust, they gave me more than I could ever have dreamed. They let me into their villages and homes. They proudly showed me their shoes, their balls, their jerseys.”Trust was a big thing, Hilltout says. “Sometimes it took three days before I took out my camera. I was very aware of the fear of deception, and how these people had perhaps been promised things before. They think people are coming to take – not to give back. And I think this is very well reflected in the history of Africa.”Tired ballsThroughout her trip she exchanged the manufactured footballs she’d brought along for more intricate, home-made ones put together with old socks, pieces of cloth, string, plastic bags and – believe it or not – condoms. Hilltout says that once inflated and covered in a few protective layers, these can keep a ball bouncy for up to three days!“Eventually I found myself with 35 such balls and realised the extent to which they represented the essence of my trip and the heart of the project. I am looking to exchange the balls I collected for equipment for all the players who made this project come to life… so that they can keep on playing the game they love,” she says.UK sports writer and author David Goldblatt talks about this collection extensively in the foreword to Amen: “A few years ago I wrote on the opening page of The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football: ‘Football is available to anyone who can make a rag ball and find another pair of feet to pass to’, as if making a rag ball were a simple matter.“How glib, how foolish, and from a man who had never made a rag ball in his life. I still have not made a rag ball, but I have had the good fortune to see the photographs in this book, Jessica Hilltout’s Amen, and I will never take the manufacture of footballs, from any material, so lightly again.“Amongst the many things that I have learnt from this book, is that getting or making that ball is no simple task. On the contrary, it is emblematic of the inventiveness, diligence, creativity and single-minded focus of Africans in particular, but of poor communities everywhere,” Goldblatt writes.Exhibitions and book salesThe photographs in Amen are currently on exhibition in Johannesburg, at Resolution Gallery, and will also be shown in Cape Town, at the Joao Ferreira Gallery, from 15 June to 24 July. A similar exhibition will take place in Brussels, Belgium, from 10 June until 18 July.The 208-page hardcover version of Amen is currently available in all major South African book stores for R600 (US$77), and available in magazine format for R190 ($24).Where to from here?“Part one of my campaign is to get the word out about the book, and then the next step is to use the publicity and funds generated from it to make a sustainable contribution to the football communities I photographed in Africa,” Hilltout says. “Of course, I can’t go back and help everyone, but want to focus on two highly committed groups I met in West Africa.”While Hilltout is working to make a positive change in lives of those she photographed, she says her own outlook has changed too.“The life lessons I learned in Africa could never have been learned in Europe. This project has changed me. I’ve begun to understand the true importance of football, which would have been impossible if I hadn’t lived through all the stories in order to capture the pictures. Through football I think I understand a little more about life, or at least a certain way of living.”