“It’s About Time”: Martina Navratilova Reflects on Roger Federer Confirming to Play in Dubai


It has been more than a year of inaction for Roger Federer now. He last played at the Australian Open 2020, where the Swiss maestro saw a straight-set loss against the Serbian Novak Djokovic. It was a tough series for him where he had to test his physical limits in 2 five-setters.  The 20-time grand slam champion later in the same year underwent double knee surgeries. All of this kept him away from the tennis court even after various countries lifted lockdown and the sport made a much-awaited return. However, the latest news is a big positive for the Federer camp. Martina Navratilova reflected on the comeback of Roger Federer The Swiss great will make his return to the ATP Tour at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. Also, the latest development suggests that he can then play an ATP 500 tournament in nearby Dubai.  In a recent interview, a jovial Martina Navratilova learned the news and reacted with some humor. The 18-time women’s Grand Slam champion expressed, “I think he just wants to stay in Burj Al Arab again, but amazing! “It’s great to see Roger back, it’s about time for him sitting for over a year. So I’m glad he’s healthy and playing again.”  That he is coming back with an ATP 250 will ensure that he does not have to put too much pressure on himself for advancing deeper in the event. Prior to this, there were headlines that alleged Roger was fit enough to return for Australian Open 2021 and that he decided against it because of family reasons. Can the Ninjafed make a successful return? Roger Federer gestures to the spectators before hitting signed tennis balls into the stands during the 2019 Hopman Cup. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)Well, it might be an ATP 250, but it has participation from some of the best ATP players. The 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem, the ATP Cup 2021 hero Andrey Rublev, and of course King Roger himself will stay in the highlight of the event. Apart from these names, there are six players from the Top-20 that’ll make the competition juicier. From Roger’s Swiss companion Stan Wawrinka to Roberto Bautista Agut, Gael Monfils, and others, it will not be an easy draw for the legendary 39-YO. However, the rusty Federer is also the mighty Federer, and he has always dominated all the aforementioned names with his stinging play. Also notably, his participation in the Dubai event will depend on how his body reacts to the Qatar event. The event will kick off on March 8th and the world will cheer for the arguable GOAT. READ MORE- Why is Roger Federer Considered the GOAT?

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2021 Australian Open: What to Watch on Tuesday Night


Rod Laver Arena | 11 p.m. TuesdayAndrey Rublev vs. Daniil MedvedevAndrey Rubley and Daniil Medvedev secured the ATP Cup for Russia earlier this month, with neither player losing a singles match throughout. In their three meetings on the ATP Tour, Medvedev has come out on top each time, including in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open in September.This may be Rublev’s chance to finally overcome his friendly rival. He has looked particularly dominant, not dropping a set throughout the tournament. His match against Casper Ruud ended after only two sets when the Norwegian withdrew with an injury. Going into the quarterfinals, Rublev has led the field in both percentage of first service points won and second service points won, a sign of how hard it has been for opponents to break his serve.Medvedev has also been playing well, aside from a chaotic, disorganized third round match against Filip Krajinovic. He has now won 18 matches in a row, with his last loss coming in October at a tournament in Vienna. Although the fast surface fits Medvedev’s flat baseline shots, Rublev’s open stance is well suited in defense, and we’re sure to see many dynamic, aggressive point.Rod Laver Arena | 3:30 a.m. WednesdayRafael Nadal vs. Stefanos TsitsipasRafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, has moved smoothly through the first four rounds, no surprise for a player with 20 Grand Slam titles. Although Nadal won his only Australian Open title over a decade ago, he has reached the finals on four other occasions since, and is a clear favorite in his half of the draw to do so again. Nadal’s powerful topspin shots are well-suited to clay courts where he can drag opponents around with tightly angled shots. Nadal’s ability to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses with relentless pressure can break most players on their best days.Stefanos Tsitsipas, the ATP finals winner in 2019, is a study in unpredictability. The fifth seed has a capable all-court game, but lacks the consistency to execute match after match. The 22-year-old has worked to improve this aspect of his game, but needed five sets to push back unseeded Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. After receiving a walkover in the round of 16, Tsitsipas will be well rested and hoping for an advantage against one of the most mentally tough players on tour.

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Pumaren resigns as Adamson coach, focuses on councilor duties

Former Adamson coach Franz Pumaren. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines — Adamson University has parted ways with head coach Franz Pumaren, the school announced Tuesday.
In a statement, Adamson said Pumaren will no longer return as coach of the Soaring Falcons to focus on his duties as councilor in the third district of Quezon City.
“As Adamson University understands the desire of Coach Franz to give full-time service to his constituents in his district in Quezon City, we announce with a heavy heart that Coach Franz will cease mentoring the Adamson Falcons effective this current year,” the statement read.
“The whole Adamson community would like to thank Coach Franz Pumaren for his unselfish sharing of his time and talent with the Adamson Men’s Varsity Team, masterfully lifting once again the standing of the Falcons in the prestigious UAAP League.”
Pumaren, who steered La Salle to five UAAP championships, returned to coaching in the collegiate ranks with Adamson in 2016.
He guided the Falcons to three Final Four appearances.
“His unique brand of coaching has carried the Falcons through several respectable finishes in the last five UAAP seasons which were considered by the Adamson community as the most electrifying Falcon seasons by far,” the school wrote.
“To Coach Franz, we will forever be grateful. We could not have pulled off the Falcon’s comeback in the UAAP podium without you.”
Mike Fermin has been tapped as the Falcons’ interim head coach.

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Serie A Team of the Week: Lukaku lays waste to Lazio


Romelu Lukaku leads the Serie A Team of the Week following his excellent performance for Inter at home to Lazio.Antonio Conte’s men secured a vital 3-1 home victory which allowed them to leapfrog Milan into top spot in the table and into pole position to claim the Scudetto.Lukaku (8.4) played a part in all three goals, initially scoring from the penalty spot before earning his second with a flashed right-footed snapshot past the goalkeeper from the edge of the box which was only given after VAR Intervened.His best moment of the match was arguably his assist, though, as he showed devastating pace, power, and determination to barge down the right wing, leaving Marco Parolo for dead before setting up Lautaro Martinez for a tap in.Lorenzo Insigne (7.4) and Domenico Berardi (7.9) join the big Belgian in the front three after scoring for Napoli and Sassuolo respectively. The Napoli man converted from the penalty spot as the Partenopei defeated Juventus 1-0.Another Sassuolo player features in our XI in Manuel Locatelli (7.6), who completed 88/96 attempted passes and had more touches of the ball than any other player in this round of fixtures with 125.Jordan Veretout (7.8) scored two goals from midfield as Roma beat Udinese 3-0 with relative comfort.Making up the midfield three is Fiorentina’s Erick Pulgar (7.7), who won an impressive 11/15 duels, albeit in defeat against Sampdoria.One of the most surprising results of the weekend saw Spezia defeat league leaders Milan 2-0. Simone Bastoni (7.7) scored one of the goals and slots in at left-back.Gianluca Mancini (8.1) and veteran defender Kamil Glik (8.0) feature in the centre of our defence.Berat Djimsiti (7.8) had 108 touches of the ball and completed 83/94 attempted passes for Atalanta.Napoli understandably had to weather a storm of sorts against Juve, but had Alex Meret (8.2) in goal to rely on as he made six saves to earn his clean sheet bonus.Serie A TEAM OF THE WEEK

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IND vs ENG | Wouldn’t call it a good pitch but it made for exciting cricket, opines Joe Root



Following a shambolic loss, Joe Root opined that he wouldn’t call the Chennai pitch for the second Test as a ‘good’ pitch but insisted that it made for exciting cricket. He also admitted that it is a learning experience for the visitors to look at India and bat for long periods of time. After cruising past the hosts India in the first Test, where Joe Root led by example, England were looking to keep their momentum up for the second Test, at the same venue. However, right from the toss, everything went awry as they lost the toss and were made to bowl on a relatively flatter wicket. Eventually, that combined with their first innings batting display took the game away from the visitors, who ended up chasing the game from the second day. The visitors subsequently succumbed to a 317-run loss, during which the conditions in Chennai was a major part of the debate. Joe Root opined that he wouldn’t call it a good pitch but reckoned that the pitch did make for exciting cricket between the two teams. “It’s very alien to what a lot of English guys will have experienced before, as are green seamers that you might across in the UK. Do I think it was a good pitch? I wouldn’t say it was a good pitch, but it made for very exciting cricket,” said Root, reported ESPNCricinfo. “I do think that the toss was an important one to win but it wouldn’t have guaranteed us to win the game either. India showed that you can score runs on it and found a way of managing a very tricky surface so we’ve got to learn from that,” he added.Despite the tricky surface, India through their two innings – showed England how to bat, scoring 614 runs. Root stated that it was something that the visitors would have to learn from and added that they needed bat for long periods of time like the hosts. “How they (India) didn’t get away from their game plan, how they knew exactly the way they were going to score their runs. How they managed to bat at the other end for long periods of time.””And as a batting group, how does that look for us individually? How I am going to manage these big turning deliveries and how am I going to stay really calm and clear under pressure? We’ve got to take bits from it and add it to our own games, and come back better for it as well,” he added.However, next up for the visitors would be a day-night clash in Ahmedabad, where Root has his sights on, insisting that the break will help them regain momentum. “Day-night cricket offers something different again, so we are very much looking forward to that. We’ll have a little bit of a break now to refresh and have a look at a few things, but it’s exciting times.”Follow us on Facebook hereStay connected with us on Twitter hereLike and share our Instagram page here .

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Warriors Teammate Praises Steph Curry and Draymond Green’s Hall of Fame IQ


After a bumpy start to the 2020-21 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors are getting back in form. They made several changes to their roster in the offseason and it took some time for the players to settle in. But with the All-Star break almost here, the Dubs are looking consistent. The credit for their newfound success goes to none other than their veteran duo of Steph Curry and Draymond Green. Recently, the two stars flaunted their skills against the Cavaliers in a comfortable 129-98 victory. Curry continued his hot scoring streak with 36 points against the Cavs. On the other hand, Green handled the facilitating duties for the team as he finished the game with 16 assists. The two stars have shouldered the burden for the team in the absence of Klay Thompson. But can the Warriors go all the way and win another championship? We will find out in the coming months. Steph Curry and Draymond Green: The two pillars for the Golden State Warriors Golden State Warriors forward Kent Bazemore (26) and forward Juan Toscano-Anderson (95) and guard Stephen Curry (30) and forward Draymond Green (23) during the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Golden State Warriors at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY SportsFollowing this sensational victory, Juan Toscano-Anderson gave an interesting post-game interview. He said: “I am a beneficiary of these guys, their hall of fame IQ. You know Draymond [Green] had 16 assists today and that’s amazing from our starting center. Last five games, he’s in double digits assists. … Either Steph [Curry] is open or Imma be open. “I’m aware that the defense ain’t gonna leave him so I just find those gaps and get those easy buckets. I know Draymond sees everything. Sometimes he sees it a little too quick before any of us see it, but it’s great to play with a guy like that.” Draymond Green has always been an amazing playmaker for the Dubs. Even during their stretch of dominance in the mid 2010s, he took on the role of a facilitator for their championship teams. This season, he is elevating his game further in that department. READ MORE | Steph Curry and LeBron James Ready to Move On From Intense Rivalry But is this enough for the Warriors to win another championship? Feel free to share your thoughts. Get notified about breaking news and watch highlights on the go; join the Arena on NBA Hoops

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European Golden Shoe 2020/21: Messi on the leaderboard but Lewandowski scores again


Lionel Messi scored two goals of the highest quality in La Liga this weekend to take his tally to 15 for the season.Both of the Argentine’s goals were scored from outside the box in superb fashion, as he helped Barcelona on their way to a 5-1 win against Alaves.Messi may now make our leaderboard, but he is still some way off reaching the runaway leader, Robert Lewandowski.The Bayern striker scored again on Monday in the German side’s rearranged Bundesliga match versus Arminia Bielefeld which was moved due to their Club World Cup exploits over the weekend.Lewandowski now has 25 goals and 50 points.His nearest rival for the Golden Shoe is fellow Bundesliga striker Andre Silva, who has now scored 18 for the season.Liverpool may have lost against Leicester, but Mohamed Salah still scored a lovely goal to take his tally to 17.Georgios Giakoumakis of Venlo has scored an impressive 22 goals and is the highest player on our list who doesn’t feature within one of Europe’s top five leagues.A talented group on 16 goals for the campaign includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Romelu Lukaku, and Luis Suarez.2020/21 EUROPEAN GOLDEN SHOE STANDINGS 2020/21 European Golden ShoeA reminder: The five elite leagues – Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 – all carry a weighting of 2, meaning that a player will be awarded two points for every goal they score in these competitions. For the leagues ranked sixth to 30 in Uefa’s coefficients rankings goals scored are given a weighting of 1.5, and goals scored in a league outwith the top 30, goals are given a weighting of 1. Ciro Immobile won the 2019/20 European Golden Shoe, scoring 36 goals for Lazio in a tremendous Serie A season. 2020/21 EUROPEAN GOLDEN SHOE (Summer Leagues) 2020 European Golden ShoePlayerTeamGoalsPointsKasper JunkerBomo/Glimt2740.5Amahl PellegrinoKristiansund2537.5Philip ZinckernagelBodo/Glimt1928.5Christoffer NymanNorrköping1827Rauno SappinenFlora Tallinn2626Veton BerishaViking1624Astrit SelmaniVerbergs1522.5Mushaga BakengaOdds BK1522.5Moses OgbuMjallby1421Anders ChristiansenMalmo1319.5Leke JamesMolde1219.5Maksim SkavyshBATE Borisov1919This is the 2020/21 European Golden Shoe race. If you want to see the final standing for the 2019/20 European Golden Shoe, follow this link.

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Meet America’s 63rd National Park


As Americans continue to weather the pandemic, the $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and spending bill passed by the federal government in December brought an unexpected and lasting gift: a new national park.The 5,593-page spending package included a raft of provisions authorizing little-known projects — the construction of the Teddy Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota, for one — and giving lawmakers a chance to advance a variety of long-delayed initiatives. Among them was the elevation of the New River Gorge, in southern West Virginia, to the status of Yellowstone, Yosemite and the country’s other most renowned outdoor spaces. The designation of the area — roughly 72,000 acres of land flanking 53 miles of the gorge — as a national park and preserve creates the 63rd national park in the United States and completes a multigenerational effort, started in the mid-twentieth century, to transform a tired industrial area into a national landmark.“Towards the end of this year, with these big bills coming down, I decided to strike,” said Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican and the state’s junior senator, who, along with Senator Joe Manchin III, a Democrat, introduced the New River Gorge legislation in 2019.“This was the right opportunity,” she said.A draw for rafters, kayakers and other outdoor enthusiastsThe gorge and its surroundings have been prized for decades as one of southern West Virginia’s more spectacular natural places.In 1963, the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a resolution seeking to designate the New River Gorge as a “national playground,” preparing to send the proposal to President John F. Kennedy, whose primary campaign was lifted substantially through support from West Virginia voters. But momentum to create a national recreation area stalled after Mr. Kennedy’s assassination later that year.Though the gorge remained a curiosity among rafters and outdoor enthusiasts, the area only received federal protection from the Interior Department in 1978, when it was designated a national river.Now, the outdoor offerings in the gorge have come to define the area as a premier destination for adventure sports in the East.The New River plunges 750 feet over 66 miles, resulting in long stretches of violent rapids that can reach a class five level, generally considered the most difficult that can be navigated by white-water boaters. (Licensed outfitters operate in several towns near the river, providing rentals and tours for rafting and kayaking.)The canyon walls, which soar as high as 1,600 feet, offer miles of cliffs that rank among the best in the East Coast for rock climbing. Sheer faces in the gorge made of robust Nuttall sandstone provide both traditional and sport-climbing routes across the difficulty spectrum.Bike routes are scattered throughout the park on both sides of the river, with options for both technical mountain biking and more casual pedaling along former railroad beds.A glimpse back in timeAccording to the National Park Service, geologists believe the New River — its name a misnomer used by early American explorers who often assigned the same name to any river they came upon for the first time — was a segment of the preglacial Teays River. This larger river, which traversed much of the current Ohio River watershed, was later diverted and broken up by glaciers. The age of the Teays is uncertain, but fossil evidence suggests it could be as much as 320 million years old, leaving its remnant, the New River, as quite possibly the second oldest river in the world.Beyond the millions of years of geological history on display, the gorge is also filled with signs of the region’s heritage as a major coal production hub.Miners once capitalized on the easy access to rich deposits of high-quality bituminous coal in the canyon, where the river had already shorn through hundreds of feet of rock. Especially after the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway linked the New River coal fields to markets in 1873, dozens of boom towns popped up along the river’s edge, thriving well into the 1920s.In 1963, a coal mine was still operating in the gorge, said Dave Arnold, a state tourism commissioner who operated a rafting company for more than 40 years.“In ’76 or ’77, if you were in my boat, we’d have been floating down the river and I would have been showing you, ‘here’s an old coal tipple, here’s the old hotel at Caperton, here’s this and that,’” he said.The demand for coal around the turn of the twentieth century was so high that towns existed every half mile along up the river, according to the Park Service. As the industry went into decline, however, by the 1950s many were already abandoned, leaving ghost towns scattered throughout the gorge. Additionally, logging during the late nineteenth century stripped vast portions of the gorge bare, clearing enormous swaths of virgin forest.The park contains the remnants of communities such as Nuttallburg and Kaymoor, which still stand near the riverbank and are accessible from points higher up. Seams of exposed coal are visible along some trails leading into the gorge and its towns, where abandoned mine portals and the foundations of coke ovens remain.Restoring an ecosystem with diverse wildlifeDespite the environmental degradation and pollution that industry unleashed, some unique ecological features make the gorge well-suited to a diverse combination of wildlife, which has slowly reappeared as time has passed.The river lies at the center of a migration corridor where plants and animals that typically range further north or south come together, including several federally endangered and threatened species, such as the Virginia big-eared bat and the Allegheny woodrat.According to Lizzie Watts, the park’s superintendent, the river itself is also notably warmer than surrounding areas, making it a popular warm-water fishing destination with more than a dozen public access points. The river is one of the premier spots for smallmouth bass fishing on the east coast, and muskellunge and walleye are common in the park today.“The next generation will have the opportunity to see what, in the last 150 years, it looks like when an area goes from being logged and mined to left alone,” Ms. Watts said. “The ecosystem has come back to full trees and mature forests.”As federal protections took effect after the Park Service began overseeing the area as a national river in 1978, wildlife has largely recovered, and many see an opportunity to showcase the region’s natural elegance.“To show off our rock climbing, our extreme sports availabilities in that area, is just really exciting,” said Ms. Capito of what she described as a “kind of wild and wonderful part of our state.” ‘The cream of the crop’The National Park Service, created in 1916, oversees more than 400 areas across the country, including national monuments, seashores and battlefields as well as parks, which together total more than 85 million acres.While the new title for New River Gorge does not fundamentally alter the area’s day-to-day operations, both lawmakers and the Park Service tend to view “national parks” as the crown jewels of the park system — a protection granted to some of the largest and most prized tracts of the country.“National Park status is usually considered like the cream of the crop,” Ms. Watts said. “But it really is just another one of those names.”The New River Gorge does not match the scale of many national parks in the western United States, where Death Valley, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone sprawl over more than 1 million acres each.Nevertheless, officials expect the new designation to bring a substantial influx of travelers, boosted in part by a dedicated set of enthusiasts who strive to visit every national park.In typical years, around 1.3 million travelers visit the gorge, according to the Park Service’s tourism data. Based on studies of other areas that received national park status, Ms. Capito said she expects to see visitors increase by as much as 20 percent.“It does feel like the very beginning stages of transformation for the whole area,” said Becky Sullivan, the executive director of the New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I’ll be very, very interested to see where we are in about 10 years.”Maintaining the community and its favored pastimesAs unique outdoor attractions throughout the Appalachian region have gained more national visibility, some concern has grown over the idea of a wealthy and mobile set from out of state trampling the communities adjacent to these places.West Virginia remains the second-poorest state in the country in terms of median household income, according to data collected by the United States Census Bureau. And while tourism has brought a needed injection of wealth to areas all around the gorge, it has also changed the makeup of neighboring communities, as more people have come to visit the park or settle down near it.Interest in the natural offerings around the park has brought slow but measurable change for small towns nearby like Fayetteville. Officials say that the advent of remote work during the pandemic has only hastened a trend of properties in the area being repurposed for vacation rentals and outsiders snapping up second homes.“You cannot find a house for sale in Fayetteville, because they’re just in such high demand,” said Sharon Cruikshank, the town’s mayor. “So that definitely changed the budgeting of the town as well as the county.”When legislation was first introduced to designate the area as a national park, pushback came from some locals. Hunters have long enjoyed access to secluded sections of woods around the gorge, and with hunting prohibited in federal parks, some protested the potential loss of thousands of acres of hunting grounds.In a compromise, more than 65,000 acres of the total area were designated as a nature preserve where hunting can continue as before, and only roughly 7,000 acres directly within the canyon are officially off limits as national parkland. A provision was included to empower the park to acquire more than 3,000 acres of private land around its current boundaries as well, to expand the size of the preserve and add public hunting grounds.In a nod to tradition, the legislation also enshrines the right for visitors to continue to make use of one of the park’s most famous features — the New River Gorge Bridge — at least once a year.BASE jumping, an extreme sport in which jumpers parachute from elevated structures or cliffs, is banned in every other national park.But, since 1980, BASE jumpers have been permitted to plunge from the top of the 876-foot-high bridge and parachute down toward the river once a year, on Bridge Day, held one Saturday in October. The legislation designating the area as a national park allows that tradition to continue.As many as 100,000 people typically come to watch the jumpers plunge, according to Ms. Sullivan, providing a major boost for businesses in the region. The event has only been canceled twice, including last year because of the coronavirus.Bridge Day’s organizers advise jumpers that the only dependable way to touch down safely is to plan to land directly in the river. In normal years, hundreds do so, often multiple times that day, gliding down and softly hitting the New River’s waters.

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Alliance Football Club’s female programme is developing stars of tomorrow


Female footballers are being given the opportunity to thrive at Alliance football club’s state-of-the-art training and education facilities.

Since 2018, the JVT-based club has built a successful football community, with programmes for girls aged from seven and above, going all the way up to senior women’s football.
Alliance FC aims to encourage participation for everyone with a love of the game, striving to give female players the best chance to experience, learn, play, lead, and compete. The club is dedicated to providing female players with the knowledge, understanding and skills, as well as preparing them for life off the pitch, by teaching values that are in line with the core principles of Alliance.

Training sessions: The programme has been designed especially for females
The club constantly empowers its members through world-class footballing education, which nurtures their development and cultivates their growth, both on and off the field. Under the leadership of professional coach Mehran Rowshan, the club’s male and female coaches adopt an inspirational methodology to train their players.

Up until 2018, female club members attended training sessions and played alongside the male teams. Soon after, it became Rowshan’s mission to put in place a prosperous programme dedicated solely to girls’ football, which began with a small group of senior players in 2018 and has grown into a flourishing community of players, parents, families and friends.
“Our girls football club is one of great team spirit; our players become a part of the Alliance family from the moment they step through our doors,” says Rowshan. “From the very beginning, we instill the mantra of being in this together. One tribe, one family. Our players are team mates at game time, and respectful members of the wider community who are there for each other through all the highs and lows.”
Tomorrow’s stars: The female programme has been up and running since 2018
What Alliance does is imperative to the club’s growth and the improvement of their players’ skills both during the game and after the final whistle. They highly encourage a coherent flow of character building and sporting development; this includes having a good attitude, being well mannered, respectful and picking up healthy habits, and improving play – Alliance’s job is to help players become well-rounded people within and beyond football.
Not only is football a great way of building life-long friendships, meeting people from all walks of life, and staying fit by doing something you love, it is also one of the best ways to boost confidence. Alliance helps girls to build relationships, develop autonomy, nurture their character, build life skills, and provide players with opportunities to master new abilities.
At Alliance, coaches work with females to encourage their love of the game and to further develop their skills and talent. The club supports girls being a part of the traditional football culture, and endeavors to give every enthusiastic female football player the opportunity to follow their sporting aspirations.
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Canucks lose valuable point as glaring mistakes prove costly vs. Flames


VANCOUVER – With a deficit in the standings and a lead in the game, the Vancouver Canucks’ late rally Monday still felt more like two points lost than one gained.
After Brock Boeser forced overtime for the Canucks with a post-and-in wrist shot through traffic that tied the game with 30.2 seconds remaining in regulation time, Johnny Gaudreau’s sharp-angle one-timer on a four-on-three power play 23 seconds into OT gave the Calgary Flames a 4-3 win at Rogers Arena.
The point was still important for the Canucks’ confidence. They outplayed their opposition for a fourth straight game, but have only one win over that span and badly needed something to show for Monday’s effort.

But the six-game losing streak that ended Saturday against the Flames has left the Canucks will little margin for error in the National Hockey League’s North Division, and a couple of glaring mistakes with the puck kept them from taking both points on Monday.
Instead, the Flames crept a point farther ahead.
“I think we’re happy we had the pushback and got it to the overtime,” Canucks captain Bo Horvat said. “Obviously, it sucks not getting that extra point. In my opinion, it shouldn’t have gotten to overtime in the first place.
“Tonight, again, I thought we carried the play the majority of the game and tested Marky pretty well. But we made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on it. We’ve just got to tighten it up even more. We’re going in the right direction, but we have to be just that touch better.”

Former Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom, who had looked untouchanble against his old team until it beat his new one 3-1 on Saturday, was beaten by Boeser on the tying goal as the Canucks played shorthanded but with their netminder on the bench for another skater.
It was the only shot to beat Markstrom over the final 45 minutes.
But the Canucks’ real missed opportunity was in the first period when they had four straight power plays near the start of the game. It felt like Vancouver might win the game then, and it was halfway there with a 2-0 lead after 15 minutes.
But Vancouver’s fourth line began a defensive-zone shift with 1:17 left in the opening period, couldn’t get out of its end and surrendered a key goal to Calgary with 25 seconds remaining.
Several times this season the Canucks have allowed goals in the final minute, changing momentum.
Milan Lucic’s goal from the slot – he was left unchecked by Jay Beagle after Jake Virtanen had the best chance to clear the zone but failed – got the Flames back in it and Calgary scored two more in the second to seize the lead.
Horvat turned the puck over by shorting his pass to Quinn Hughes on a three-on-two rush, and on the Flames’ counter-attack, Elias Lindholm wristed a 25-footer past goalie Thatcher Demko to make it 2-2 at 10:40.
“It was just a pass that should have been harder,” Horvat said. “It was just a little miscommunication between Huggy and I. Ultimately, I’ve just got to move that over to him quicker.”
That miscommunication was nothing compared to what came next for the Canucks.
Calgary took the lead five minutes later when Vancouver defenceman Nate Schmidt went Steve Smith by trying to pass in front of his goalmouth from behind the red line.

Dillon Dube got his stick on Schmidt’s pass, which ricocheted into an unsuspecting Demko, who was scrambling back into his net after giving the puck to Schmidt. With the puck somewhere in his feet, Demko sprawled trying to find it and knocked it into his own net at 15:51.
Schmidt said a few days ago he’d never experienced in his NHL career the bad luck he suffered last week when, in consecutive games, he kicked the puck on to an opponent’s stick on one goal and had a double-deflection bounce off him into his net for an own goal. Hopefully, bad things only come in threes because Monday’s mishap was the worst yet.
Still, the Canucks pushed back, outshooting the Flames 16-6 in the third period.

After breaking through against Markstrom on Saturday, the Canucks appeared to still have that momentum two days later. Tanner Pearson’s deflection of Hughes’ shot opened scoring at 3:52 of the first period, and Horvat doubled the lead during a two-man advantage at 14:44, scoring from the low slot after being teed up by Boeser’s quick relay from J.T. Miller.
But that was the only goal the first-unit power play produced on seven chances. After building the fourth-best power play in the league last season at 24.2 per cent, the Canucks are 20th through 19 games in 2021 at 17.4 per cent.
“There’s been games where I’ve said that I think they’ve been good and they just haven’t scored,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “I didn’t think they were very good tonight. I just didn’t think they were sharp. Passing wasn’t sharp, they were on the outside. When you get an in mini-series like this, teams do make adjustments as the series goes on and their penalty killers to did a good job tonight. But I thought our power play could have been better. You’re not always going to score, but sometimes momentum is gained and lost with a power play.”

The Canucks failed on two third-period power plays before tying the game with their goalie out and Hughes in the penalty box.
“(Playing) .500 isn’t going to cut it,” Pearson said. “Every game is kind of a four-point game. . . playing everyone in your division. There’s no outside help; it’s all on yourself. We’ve got to keep getting points here and start stringing some (wins) together.”
The Canucks and Flames end their four-game series Wednesday in Calgary.

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