En Route To Recovery

For the first time in over 2 months I ran again today (see my Nike+ run). The last two months, I was kept quiet by a knee injury (still not 100% clear, but most probably torn ligaments). The resting period consisted of two weeks of walking in a knee-immobilizer and a slow recovery by just walking a lot until I didn’t limp anymore. And now, since some days, I felt good enough to run again, but was held back by the risk it concerns. Running might not be the best thing to do for recovery of a knee injury, but the doctor said it would be okay to do. That was before he got the results of the MRI scan of my knee, which I still have to discuss with him, by the way.

Anyway, today was the first test. I decided a 2 km run would be good enough, especially in the warm and oppressive weather of Riga. It went well. My knee kept itself fine, and did not complain. Now let’s see how it will act today and tomorrow. So I can start real training again.

Baltic Postcards – The Mangalsala Jetty in Exploration Weekend

The Mangalsala Jetty

Dear Friends,

In five months you can actually grow into daily routines in a completely new place. A supermarket to do the daily groceries, a restaurant to have a quick bite, a park to walk the dog, a beach to enjoy the sea or sunbathe and read: you find one you like and half-automatically stick with it. Out of ease, mainly. And sometimes, that means you miss out on things. That is why this weekend we put on our exploring flip-flops (it is still quite tropical in Riga), and discovered some new things.

It started with an Indian restaurant in the Old Town on Friday night. The food was excellent, as was the company. Saturday, instead of again going to Jurmala, we drove to Vecāķi‎ to enjoy the very clean beach and swim in the relatively warm but algea laden water. Afterwards we drove to Mangalsala to fight of the biting bugs and walk on the Mangalsala (or Eastern) Jetty and see the Daugava flow into the Baltic Gulf, that a bit further out was tormented by lightning strikes.

Sunday we enjoyed the relative calm of Vakarbulli beach, where the water was very clear. And very cold.

All in all, a great and relaxing weekend.

Warm regards,
Arjan

De Paraplu Performs At Opening Of RMHC Care Mobile

Last Saturday, 17 July, Latvia’s first RMHC Care Mobile was officially opened. During the opening Vermanes Park, circus theatre De Paraplu (the Umbrella) from the Netherlands was giving juggling lessons to children of all ages (yes, me included). Afterwards, they gave a performance in the Radisson Blu Hotel Elizabete. A great example of modern circus.

Some Observations of the 2010 World Cup

The first stage is done, as is the Round of 16. For 19 consecutive days the beautiful game has dominated news channels, social media, and yes, also a bit my life. Now that we are about to roll into the quarterfinals, after two footballless days, it’s a good time to share some observations.

Although the continent had high hopes, African football was not energized enough by having the final tournament in Africa for the first time. South Africa missed a chance to go through, Nigeria failed, Cameroon and Algeria were almost invisible. And from Cote d’Ivoire, despite being put in a group with Portugal and Brazil, could not impress. Only Ghana suvived until now. And they have a chance.

For the outfitters of the teams, Adidas has been most succesful so far. With 4 teams in the quarter finals, and sure to have 1 in the final. Nike and Puma both have 2 teams left, and are already sure to both have 1 in the semis. More stats: Africa has 1 team left, Europe 3 and South America 4.

The big stars haven’t yet displayed their magic. Cristiano Ronaldo could not really impress, Kaka had brilliant moments, but his 2 yellows in one match were his most memorable moment so far. Messi tried, but was cut down so far, with the negative extreme being Greece, how had 3 players trying to kick him whenever he had the ball. At least, so it seemed.
No, the biggest star of the tournament is not a player, nor a coach. Not even a referee. For me, the star of the tournament so far is the Vuvuzela. The monotonous blaring coming from the tv with each game makes one feel as if being in Africa itself. Even in the northern half of Europe. A quick look around the internet reveals that there is no Messi-button available for YouTube clips now, but a Vuvuzela button that adds the sound of Vuvuzela’s to the clip in question. And it’s not Ronaldo acting as the little yellow man to place on the map in Google street view, they simply gave him a Vuvuzela.

Then, there is the discussion of referees and technological aids. I think, that the referees showed that, just like the teams, some are skilled enough to act on this stage, and some are simply not. When the better referees are on the pitch, there is no demand for technology. For me, that is a great indicator that FIFA needs to invest in the human factor more than in technology.

Anyway, this Friday, we’re going into the quarter finals, kicking off with the match between the Netherlands and Brazil. As a true Oranje fan, I truly believe we have a chance against this Brazil.

Oh, and if you think African football, or Africa in general, should benefit from the worldcup, many special actions are going on. By sponsors, the FIFA, the teams (like the Orange Cruyff Court) and several charities. But, you can also act yourself, by supporting the football academy Right to Dream in Ghana through JustGiving: http://www.justgiving.com/ChangeThroughFootball.