About Me

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I'm 21-year old Journalism student based in Leicester and a bit of a football obsessive. You'll probably guess from my blog posts that I'm a Liverpool fan and you'd be correct. I post on here, Tumblr and the Kop and also have a Twitter (@MattKenny_LFC) page. Comments are always welcome so have a read and tell me what you think.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Is Darts A Real Sport?

As I sat down in my living room, cracked open a cold beer and turned on the Final of the World Darts Championship I thought to myself, is this really a sport? Obviously the men competing in this final have an outstanding talent and throwing a dart at a tiny strip is something that takes a steady arm and a huge level of concentration. But as I looked at myself and then the men adorning the stage I realised that I, an average build teenage male, was in much superior physical shape than the competitors on show. Which made me start to look at the for and against arguments in this debate. Is Darts a sport or is it simply a pub game that requires great concentration?
First of all, I’d like to state that I’m a big darts fan and that I regularly watch live events that are broadcast on television. I recognise that men like Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld have mastered their art and are truly professionals in what they do, practising for hours on end in order to be the best, along with a small cluster of other men who call this game their life. But beyond the obvious big names, I don’t see many men making a living out of this game.
In tournaments such as the UK Open, you witness a huge number of men attempting to qualify. Most of which have honed their skills down the local pub, throwing arrows in synchronization with necking pints. This is something that is part of the history and culture of darts though not really something you would identify with an athlete; though drinking alcohol is now banned from the stages of professional events. These men usually have a real job such in fields such as building, plumbing, etc, whereas darts is simply a hobby of theirs and not something that they can make a living out of.The amount of truly professional darts players is minimal.

To try and help my decision, I decided to look up the definition of a sport, as one way of settling my debate. The definition I found was:
“Sport is an activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.”
Darts falls into this category, meaning it must be considered as a sport in some from despite its sceptics. I have come to the conclusion that darts is a sport that is easier than most to start playing and reach a certain level but is one of the hardest to master as shown by the dominance of a small number of players, in particular Phil Taylor, the 14 time World Champion. Although not a sport graced by Olympic-style athletes, darts is a sport that can be enjoyed by anyone and maybe sometimes that is more important than physical attributes. I for one will continue to watch this spectacle and maybe even have a pint as I do it. After all, that’s what the players do!

Friday, 2 January 2009

Hoffenheim Rise Shows No Signs of Stopping

If a foreign onlooker had a quick glance at the Bundesliga table, they would be forgiven if they didn’t recognise the name Hoffenheim at the top of the league. Only a small village team, the clubs rise through the leagues is a tale of almost Roy of the Rovers proportions. Their story has both it’s supporters and its sceptics and here we look at how Hoffenheim went from the Fifth Division to the pinnacle of German football in just 8 years.
As with most modern football clubs, the key was financial backing, and when former player Dietmar Hoff came in for the club in the early 90s, they acquired his vast fortune, earned from the founding of his own software company. At the time, it could have been seen as a poor investment, as realistically he can’t have expected the team to become such a success so quickly, and football clubs generally don’t make a lot of income. But Hoff invested a staggering £120m in facilities for the club, including a new training centre which would become the centre of their success. Hoff insisted on a policy that home grown players would be produced and move into the first team, this philosophy would prove a wise move as Hoffenheim moved up through the divisions into the 3rd division. Despite the success of the current regime, it was decided that the club needed something more if they were to progress further, and Hoff decided the first step was a new manager. Ralf Rangnick was the man he chose. With a CV that includes a host of big Bundesliga clubs, it was obvious he was the right man for the job and Hoffenheim hoped for promotion within the next few seasons.

They didn’t expect the promotion to come at the first time of asking though, and Rangnick guided the side to a second place finish, ensuring a place in the Bundesliga 2 for the coming season. The Hoffenheim dream was taking shape, but the next step would be the biggest of all. Could they really gain promotion to the elite, to the Bundesliga? Remarkably, they again finished second, meaning top flight football for the 2008/09 season, but could this be too much, too soon? Although they had done well to get this far, their squad was surely not good enough to compete, even after the signings of Brazilians such as Wellington. But, this is a club that just loves to surprise people, and their meteoric rise continued this season, where they currently lead the Bundesliga. Although rival clubs have claimed they have bought their way to the top, this is a far cry from Abramovich’s Chelsea, and is probably closer to the way Gretna rose up through the Scottish leagues, although the former recently went bust, with the owner unable to cope with the financial needs of a top flight club. Hoff has assured his club will not follow suit, he has longer term ambitions. There are plans for a new 30,000 seater stadium, and new fans are being found all the time. They are still a small, village team but the future is bright for Hoffenheim and in a few years time, maybe we will be talking about them in the same way as the Bayern Munich’s of this world. We will have to wait and see if the fairytale continues, but for now the people of this small German village are just living the dream and enjoying the ride. One things for sure, life is never boring for a fan of 1899 Hoffenheim.