Struggling to get your Sunday morning side in the right frame of mind after a heavy night out? Looking for that extra edge over daunting opponents? Apart from a New Year resolution to cut down on the ale, help may be at hand for teams at all levels for a mere £7.95. That is the cost of Mindcards, a series of 104 cue cards devised by sports psychologist Sam Kotadia, that can be consulted at any time. Kotadia has testimonials to support his work from Charlton Athletic, currently in an automatic promotion place in League One, whose manager Phil Parkinson has worked with him for several years. Charlton's Kelly Youga says the cards "have really helped to maintain a positive approach to my game", and after conceding a fourth goal to local rivals Millwall in added time last week, his fellow defenders have doubtless been studying the ones about focus and concentration. There is even a charitable side to the project, 25 per cent of receipts going to the excellent Kickz community programme. Kotadia says: "How well you perform on the pitch is often helped by how you feel. By being positive and generating a resourceful internal state, you increase your chances of playing your best football. Focusing on the enjoyment of playing football will maintain your enthusiasm and zest for the game."
Juggler's having a ball
One entertaining aspect of any World Cup year is the epic journey made overland from England to each host country by a football, or more precisely The Ball, organised by an organisation called Spirit of Football. The idea is to emphasise football as a force for good in the world, the founders claiming that "our football is our passport as we engage with all people, seek out football events and stories using the beautiful game to break down barriers". Starting from Battersea Park, which claims to be the venue of the first match played under official Football Association rules in January 1864, The Ball faces its longest trip yet; the 10,000 miles to Johannesburg being 2,000 miles longer than the 2002 competition in Asia, when players en route included Tibetan Monks and street urchins in Kyrgyzstan. Making the trip this time with their Fairtrade African-made ball are Andrew Aris, a former New Zealand international, and former professional ball juggler Christian Wach, who will depart after a game in Battersea on 24 January, followed by an attempt on the ball-juggling world record.
Wales ruin whale of a time
Not going to South Africa are the 12 Wales supporters who win this year's blind optimism award for having long ago bought "team specific" tickets right up to the final itself; the team in question being the Welsh one that finished 10 points short of a play-off place, beating only Azerbaijan and Liechtenstein in their qualifying group. The faithful dozen had their money returned, minus a hefty service charge imposed by Fifa.
Web ties are sweet for FA
As well as having agreed a new FA Cup contract for next season with ESPN, the FA are delighted with their own free online coverage of games, the Oldham-Leeds tie having attracted over 150,000. Third-round games are TranmereWolves and Bristol City-Cardiff.
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