by Demetria Irwin -thegrio.com
Taraji P. Henson’s newest big screen project is called From the Rough, and the Oscar nominated actress is excited to share the independent film with the world.
Based on the true story of Catana Starks, the first African-American woman to coach an all-male NCAA golf team, the movie is an inspirational tale about determination and dedication. Starks was charged with putting together Tennessee State University’s first men’s golf team. Besides her race and gender being seen as obstacles in the overwhelmingly white and male world of golf, Sparks also had the added hurdle of learning the game of golf.
Previously the swimming and diving coach at TSU, Starks had only played golf recreationally when she got the new job. She had to learn the game and learn how to coach it. Unable to lure African-American golfers from more elite and established golf programs, Starks took her search worldwide and cobbled together a racially and ethnically diverse team from all over the world. By the time Starks ended her coaching career, her men’s golf team became national champions with a record that still stands today. It’s a story that has all the makings of a classic Hollywood coach drama.
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A few minutes prior, the same fans had hurled monkey chants at another A.C Milan player of Ghanian descent, Sulley Muntari.
According to The New York Times, the Pro Patria players tried convincing the fans to stop chanting, but to no avail.
“When we tried to reason with them and went under the stands, they didn’t even consider it,” said Pro Patria defender Devis Nossa. “They certainly weren’t our usual fans.”
The actor saunters onto the stage. His eyes bulge, then dart from side to side, exploring a dark corner as if for a hidden enemy. Then, he smiles. Suddenly, he grimaces; then his lips curl as if in disgust, or contempt.
His audience is on tenterhooks, clearly unsure of what’s going to happen next.
Mpho Osei Tutu is a man of many faces, a man of many personalities. He has to be. In his latest show, Convincing Carlos, he alone plays 12 different characters and uses many different accents to portray them credibly.
“In a way, my transient life so far has prepared me for this because I’ve had the good fortune to live in many different places and to experience many different cultures and people,” Tutu explained.
The actor and writer, the winner of many awards, was born in Paris, France, to a father from Ghana and a mother from Lesotho. Tutu’s lived in both of these countries, as well as Togo and South Africa.
“I consider all of these places to be home for me, although these days I spend more time in Johannesburg because it’s such an important hub of Africa’s TV, film and theater sectors,” he said.
Tutu described Convincing Carlos as a “tragi-comedic reflection” on “one of the craziest times” in Africa’s sporting and cultural history – the build-up to the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa.
His show is grounded in real life events surrounding the South African Football Association’s (SAFA’s) desperate, and ultimately successful, bid to reemploy one of the world’s leading soccer coaches to train South Africa’s team in the World Cup finals.
Brazil’s Carlos Alberto Parreira had quit managing the team, known as Bafana Bafana, in 2008, but SAFA lured him back to South Africa before the finals with promises of massive cash payments.
Tutu said Convincing Carlos is his attempt to explore South Africa’s “infatuation” with Parreira, even though he had only delivered a few good results for Bafana Bafana and had abandoned the team when it needed him most.
Parreira had won the 1994 World Cup coaching Brazil, but his 2010 tenure with Bafana Bafana failed, with South Africa becoming the first host nation in the tournament’s history to be knocked out of the tournament in the first round.
“The absurdity of the whole situation for me felt like a great premise for a comedy,” Tutu said. “Of course, what we got was more than a comedy – it was a real human story about a character and quite tragic in many senses.”
‘Omens’ lead to tragedy
Tutu’s referring to his show’s main character, a South African football fan called Sechaba Mofokeng. Through his words and actions, Tutu satirizes not only Africa’s but also the globe’s obsession with the sport and the lengths that some people are willing to go in order to “win at all costs” in soccer.
In the play, Mofokeng receives several “omens” in nightmares telling him to travel to Brazil to convince Parreira to return to South Africa to coach Bafana Bafana in the 2010 finals. A deranged Mofokeng eventually ends up breaking into the coach’s home in Rio de Janeiro and is deported back to his homeland.
Another of the main characters in Convincing Carlos is Khalo, a struggling writer who tracks Mofokeng down for a book he’s penning about “football fanaticism.” It emerges that the fan’s passion for soccer has cost him his family, friends, job and self-respect.
“That’s the tragedy of this story – that the main character…just completely loses track of all of that stuff that is important in his life, because of his obsession with football,” Tutu told VOA.
‘Ginormous’ football fan
His work is largely fictional, but the actor insisted that the world is filled with millions of people who are “carbon copies” of Sechaba Mofokeng. “There are stories of African football fans, like number one fans of clubs, that have lost their families because of their mad love for football, and these all fed into the Sechaba character.”
“For me that was the tragedy of it,” Tutu continued,” that something as beautiful as the “beautiful game” (as it’s called around the world) can have such tragic things connected to it. What you would think is a game to one person is like life and death to another.”
Tutu maintained that he understands people’s sometimes “over the top” love of football as he, too, is a “ginormous” soccer supporter. “I support France, I support Ghana, I support Lesotho, and when I’m in South Africa I support (Soweto club) Kaizer Chiefs,” he said. “I hardly ever miss games in which these teams are involved.”
Singing show tunes
Critics have praised Tutu for his use of multiple accents and facial expressions in Convincing Carlos. At one point in the show he plays a South African colored, or mixed race, drug courier. The colored dialect is notoriously difficult to imitate, but Tutu managed it with aplomb.
He ascribed his skill at speaking in different accents to his diverse upbringing and the fact that he travels a lot throughout the world. “So I get to hear a lot of different people speaking their languages, and I seem to pick up on the ways in which they speak very quickly.”
Tutu added, “Vocally, as a child, I would always sing show tunes. I would always try and play around with accents. Even then, they seemed to come easily to me.”
But he described doing a one-man show as the hardest thing he’s ever done. “One man on stage…is quite nerve-wracking.”
But, inspired by South African actors and directors Craig Morris and Matthew Ribnick, whom Tutu calls masters of one-man theater, he decided to challenge himself. “A piece of me just wanted to see if I could do it, you know,” he commented. “And then I finally decided on the one-man format because there’s a piece of me in each one of the different characters.”
Tutu said Convincing Carlos works as a one-man show “as it’s ultimately about the journey of one man,” Sechaba Mofokeng.
Tutu acknowledged that his latest work also represented his biggest step so far on his personal journey to fulfill himself as an actor and writer.
By Darren Taylor
Source: VOA News
Is your choice Basketball? Maybe Football? Americans may be surprised to find out that American Football, baseball nor basketball is not even in the top 5!
Soccer (more popularly known as Football) is a team sport that is popular in almost every country in the world. The huge fan following is perhaps due to the fact that at an amateur level, it requires very little equipment and effort to learn the basics. Thus, kids start playing soccer at an early age and go on to become ardent followers of the game. Soccer is also the highest paying team sport at professional level. The prize money for the winning team at the 2010 soccer world cup was US $30 million. The synonym of enthusiasm and zeal, soccer or soccer posses the number 1 ranking in the world’s most popular sports .
The second most popular sport in the world is also a team sport. Cricket‘s number two spot in terms of number of fans is thanks largely due to its popularity in the Indian sub-continent. It is popular in Asia, Australia, England and few selected countries, but is slowly expanding its reach to other countries. Cricket is a rather interesting sport with many formats – from test matches which last for 5 days to the more recent 20-20 format which has a duration of about 3 hours. The original format of the game (5 days) and the somewhat involved rules and skills required meant that Cricket was popular among a few selected countries to begin with. However, the introduction of the 20-20 format has resulted in many more countries participating in the sport at an international level.
Field hockey is another team sport with reach across the globe. It is played in atleast 116 countries (members of the International Hockey Federation). Matches at the professional level have a duration of about 1 hour 15 minutes, making hockey a short and action packed sport. Field hockey is one of the most popular team sport for women.
Tennis is the 4th most popular sport in the world, but is the most popular individual sport. Tennis can be played between two single players or two teams of a pair of players each (doubles variant). It is a sport which is equally popular among men and women. Lawn tennis is a very high paying individual sport – individual players have made more than $40 million in a year alone. Tennis is a fascinating game as well as exercise. The fact that there is no time limit in the game means a player has to work hard on his/her stamina – matches between professionals often turn out to be a test of endurance. The only limiting factor in the popularity of the game is the availability of good tennis courts. Everyone should try Lawn Tennis – the world’s most popular individual sport at least once!
Volleyball is also a team sport which is popular across the globe, partly due to its different variants (it can be played indoor as well as outdoors). Volleyball is popular among men as well women. Officially, the sport is played between teams of six players each.
Table-Tennis is another individual/pair sport which makes it to the top 10 most popular sports list. Informally, table-tennis is also known as ping-pong. One of the advantages of the game is that it requires relatively lesser space, so many clubs, schools and recreational centers have a table-tennis court. Though it appears that there is relatively less running in the sport, a serious game of table-tennis can be a very good exercise due to the swift movements required.
Baseball, the national pastime of the United States, is the 7th most popular sport in the world. In form, it is closest to Cricket, another popular sport. Baseball is also a very high paying sport at the professional level – the total prize money for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) tournament standing at $14 million, and individual players in the United States earning as much as $33 million in a year.
Golf is the most popular sport which can be played solo (without requiring a partner). It is a game where focus is completely on individual brilliance – ones performance in Golf is not influenced by the opponent’s. A golf course can offer unique scenic beauty and natural environment unmatched by any other sport. As golf courses are often rare even in big cities, many people first try their hands on an alternative form – mini golf. Though the sport is played regularly only by the wealthier class, people love to watch golf. Golf has the record for an individual sports-person earning the highest amount of money ever. As of 2010, Tiger Woods has earned close to $900 million in his career so far. He has earned around $90 million in 2010 from winnings and endorsements alone.
Basketball is an action packed game combining the display of skills, strategy and athleticism in one of the shortest durations as compared to contemporary sports. Basketball gives you one of the most rigorous indoor exercises. The game originated in Canada and has a huge fan following in North America. However, it has gained worldwide popularity rather quickly – the Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) has more than 200 countries, of which only 75 are ranked with non-zero points as of 2010. Top Basketball players in the world are rewarded handsomely. In 2004, Michael Jordan made 35 million dollars.
Football is one of the most intensive contact sports. In the US, it is simply called Football (and “Football” is called “Soccer”), while in the rest of the world, it is often more commonly known as Gridiron. Yet the super bowl is one of the most anticipated events of the year for American sports fans.
(Above Stats according to Mostpopularsports.com)
Yet the highest paid athletes reveal a much different story:
#1 Tiger Woods #2 Kobe Bryant #3 Lebron James all three are American players and within sports that are not in the top 3 from a world perspective. (Forbes 2011)