The long way from Clare to here

first_imgTwitter Previous articleNew owner tells of plans for Kate O’Brien’s ancestral homeNext articleShannon’s first Catholic school celebrates 50 years admin Email Print Linkedin Cllr Gilligan wants Athlunkard Bridge one-way systemTRAFFIC using Athlunkard Bridge should be restricted to one-way from Limerick to east Clare, to prevent the ongoing serious congestion problem in Corbally, suggests Cllr John Gilligan.He has been calling for a traffic plan for the area for a number of years, and is to present a notice of motion that recommends making Athlunkard Bridge one-way.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up He is to propose that traffic coming in from east Clare would go through Parteen and travel in to the city by Watch House Cross,However, Rory McDermott, senior executive, Roads Management, claims a one-way system would not be workable.Back to Cllr Gilligan: “A new road system is planned for that area of the city and now is the time to plan for a diversion of the traffic coming in from Clare.“For over 30 years we have been raising the issue of heavy traffic coming in to the city from that side of Clare, and increasingly it has become worse.“There are huge traffic volumes and a one way system would alleviate more than half of the cars coming in over the bridge.“We were unable to build a roundabout at the Mill Road/Corbally Road junction as the area was not wide enough for a roundabout, but gradually the magnitude of the traffic has grown and its so bad now that people coming out of the housing estates – Westbury, Rosendale Gardens etc, frequently find it quicker to walk.“We often walk past the waiting bus as that too will be stuck in traffic for ages, but there are times when you have to use the car and then the headache begins,” a commuter told the Limerick Post.When contacted, Mr McDermott, said Cllr Gilligan’s proposal would have to be considered by the National Roads Authority.“It is a rather drastic proposal which I would not recommend – it is not workable and should not be pursued, but we do have proposals to improve the situation by removing the Grove Island roundabout and installing an inbound bus and cycle lane”.center_img Facebook WhatsApp NewsLocal NewsThe long way from Clare to hereBy admin – March 1, 2012 547 Advertisementlast_img read more

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University to offer $125k reward

first_imgThe university is offering a $125,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of a suspect or suspects in the murder of two USC students, according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement.Graduate students Ming Qu and Ying Wu were fatally shot early Wednesday morning while sitting in Qu’s car near the intersection of Raymond Avenue and 27th Street.In mourning · Students and faculty continued to leave flowers in front of Tommy Trojan in remembrance of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, students who were fatally shot on the 2700 block of Raymond Street on Wednesday. – Ani Kolangian | Daily TrojanDetectives found no signs of a robbery, struggle or altercation at the scene where Qu and Wu, both 23 years old, were shot and killed, said LAPD Homicide Detective Supervisor Sal LaBarbera.The gunman approached the driver’s side of the vehicle, where Qu sat, and fired multiple shots from five to six feet away, LaBarbera said. The shots shattered the driver’s side window.Detectives said the gunman fled south on Raymond Avenue.LaBarbera said Qu got out of the vehicle to seek help after he and Wu were shot. Officers found Qu collapsed on the front porch of Wu’s residence on the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue. Wu was found in the front passenger seat of the vehicle. The car was double-parked with its hazard lights flashing.Qu and Wu were transported to the California Hospital Medical Center shortly after 1 a.m., where they were pronounced dead.Detectives said no DNA from the suspect was obtained at the scene. Rain was pouring down at the time of the shooting and might have washed away possible evidence.LaBarbera said it was normal for Qu to visit Wu at her residence.“That was routine for them,” LaBarbera said. “He would normally bike over and meet her, but in this case he drove because of the rain.”Both victims were second-year graduate students studying electrical engineering at the Viterbi School of Engineering.Investigators do not have a motive, but they believe the suspected male shooter acted alone. No further description of a suspect has been released.Surveillance footage from nearby businesses on Normandie Avenue and footage obtained from DPS surveillance and license plate recognition cameras in the area are being reviewed. There are no cameras installed directly on Raymond Avenue.LaBarbera said gang members live in the neighborhoods north and south of the block where the shooting occurred, but the block where Wu lived is home to mostly families and students.“This is definitely an isolated incident,” LaBarbera said.Detectives have not determined a motive or whether the shooting was gang-related.“We do have some good leads that we’re working on,” LaBarbera said. “We have over a dozen homicide detectives working on the case.”Members of the FBI, DPS Officers and LAPD Officers from the Southwest Division are also assisting with the investigation.Administrators at USC pledged to fully cooperate with the investigation and will offer support to the victims’ families, friends and anyone affected by the murders.“We want to make sure they get connected to the right support,” said Lynette Merriman, senior associate dean of students.Dean of Religious Life Varun Soni said the university is working toward holding an on-campus memorial service, preferably with the parents of the victims present.“We’re very respectful to what the students’ families would want,” Soni said.As the dean of religious life, Soni is tasked with overseeing ceremonial and religious events, such as the candlelight vigil held for Qu and Wu Wednesday evening.Denzil Suite, associate vice president for student affairs, said the Chinese Consulate-General in Los Angeles is working with the university to help communicate with Wu and Qu’s parents, should they wish travel to Los Angeles.“[The Chinese Consulate-General] visited campus [Wednesday],” Suite said. “We’re having a discussion of how we can coordinate with the family.”Qu’s parents live in the Jilin province of China. Wu’s parents reside in the Hunan province. University officials could not give a timetable as to when the parents might obtain visas to travel to the United States.A press conference on details of the investigation and the monetary reward is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m. at the Raymond Avenue crime scene.Detectives encouraged anyone with information to call the LAPD’s Criminal Gang Homicide Division at (213) 485-4341 or the Detective Information Desk at the 24-hour toll-free number 877-LAPD-24-7.“Anything would help us,” LaBarbera said. “We’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to solve this case.”last_img read more

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Vacancy: Communications Manager

first_imgCommunications ManagerProviding, formulating and leading a global communications plan for Brand South Africa. To develop a messaging framework to inform how we communicate with various audiences. Managing relationships with media (international and domestic). Stakeholder management (building relationships with non media stakeholders). To develop an issues management and crisis plan to enable Brand South Africa to proactively respond to issues.For more information Click herelast_img

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Free trade area to link Cape and Cairo

first_img22 May 2015 The Tripartite Free Trade Area stretching from Cape to Cairo – which has been in the works since 2008 – will be launched on 10 June in Sharm el-Sheikh, in Egypt.Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies gave the date in a media briefing ahead of his budget vote in the National Assembly, in parliament, Cape Town, on 21 May.The zone will stretch from Egypt to South Africa and will connect consumers in the 26-member countries of three existing trade blocs: the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the East African Community (EAC), and the South African Development Community (SADC).“The Tripartite Free Trade Area. will signal that we are on track to create a market of over 600 million people with a combined gross domestic product [GDP] of over $1-trillion,” he said in his budget vote.“Later in the same month, in South Africa, negotiations will be launched for the establishment of a Continental FTA that will embrace the entire continent – a market of 1.3 billion people with a combined GDP of over $2-trillion.”Those negotiations will be launched at the 25th AU Summit, taking place in South Africa from 7 to 15 June.In announcing these moves, Davies said South Africa had been playing a prominent role in championing developmental integration in the regional economic communities of which it was a member, and in the African Union.“These developments follow the extraordinary SADC Summit held last month which approved a SADC Regional Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap. South Africa strongly supports regional and continental efforts to build more industrialised and diversified economies and reduce member states’ overdependence on primary products.”Speaking to the media on the sidelines of his budget vote, Davies said South Africa supported the T-FTA because it believed that such a zone could contribute to the regional value chain. While it would be launched officially next month, he admitted there were still some “tariff schedule agreements” that needed to be finalised.These were unpacked in his budget vote delivered to the National Council of Provinces a day earlier, on 20 May.“There has been a concerted effort to enhance access for South African products, especially value-added exports in international markets. Africa remains at the centre of our efforts, where we have been actively championing continent-wide industrialisation and an ambitious development integration programme,” he said in explaining South Africa’s involvement in the T-FTA.“[Its] launch signifies the conclusion of negotiations on the legal instrument and will be followed by a process to finalise negotiations on tariffs and Rules of Origin, the key elements of a functional free trade area. This is an important milestone in the implementation of the development integration agenda in Africa aimed at promoting market integration, based on industrial and infrastructure development.”The African market was crucial for South Africa’s industrialisation and job creation efforts as one of the key destinations for its value-added exports, Davies explained to the council of provinces.The T-FTA will account for half of the membership of the African Union and 58% of the continent’s GDP, according to a statement issued following the Tripartite Sectoral Committee of Ministers in Bujumbura, Burundi, on 25 October 2014.“The Tripartite FTA, popularly known as the Grand Free Trade Area, will be the largest economic bloc on the continent and the launching pad for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in 2017,” reads part of the statement.“It offers significant opportunities for business and investment within the Tripartite and will act as a magnet for attracting foreign direct investment into the tripartite region. The business community, in particular, will benefit from an improved and harmonised trade regime that reduces the cost of doing business.”last_img read more

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Iran Tracks Tor Users: This Week in Online Tyranny

first_imgIran can now track Tor users. Tor users in Iran more than doubled to 2,800 after the 2009 presidential election. Tor, the onion-routing tool that allows users to visit the Internet without betraying what sites they are using, is now traceable by the Iranian security forces. UPI quoted Andrew Lehman, Tor’s executive director, as saying the number of Tor users in Iran doubled, to 2,800 after the last election there and the protests that resulted. The Iranians have employed “deep packet inspection” to follow Web traffic that would not normally be visible. Tor has known it was vulnerable to this type of software but had not yet developed armor against it. China blocks VPN. It’s a banner week for China. It has blocked the three most popular VPN providers in the country, used by many to get around its extensive filtering regime. Google accuses China of interfering with Gmail. “Internet users in China have reported difficulties with Gmail over the last few weeks, complaining that the email service is slow or unavailable. While it’s been made to look as though it’s a technical problem on Google’s end, the search engine giant says that the Chinese government is responsible. “There is no technical issue on our side. We have checked extensively,’ says a Google spokesperson. ‘This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail.’”China shuts off mobile phones when the word “protest” is uttered. The block shuts off the phone of the user immediately, whether he or she is talking in Chinese or English. This is part of China’s panicky crackdown against an “infection” from the Middle East’s uprisings. Online calls for a Jasmine Revolution in China met with 100 arrests. Many of the incarcerated in the latest round of arrests are not self-identified “activists,” but “netizens,” who identify themselves less as old-guard protesters and more as members of a global online community, while still remaining Chinese. Tweeting about the revolutions in the Middle East has attracted the ire of Chinese security worse than any time since the riots in 2009 in Central Asia. China has shut down 130,000 Internet cafes. In the last six years, China has driven 130,000 Internet cafes out of business. Many in China rely on these cafes for their Internet access. The goal seems to be to keep Internet users off-balance but also to drive small shops out of business to be replaced by large chains. That, in turn, is no doubt a convergence of large business owners engaging in Party official kickbacks and the fact that one big chain with a lot to lose may be much more assiduous about implementing government censorship rules. Syria arrests bloggers during protests. The recent protests in the Syrian city of Daraa has seen a blogger, Khaled Elekhetyar, arrested. At least he is presumed arrested, having disappeared during the protests. His Facebook page has been hacked and filled with pro-regime propaganda. Ahmad Abu Al-Kheir, who was arrested, then released, last month has also been arrested. China TV photo by Cory Doctorow Tags:#NYT#TWiOT#web Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… curt hopkins Related Posts last_img read more

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Win a Sony a7S II Camera & More, Valued at Over $3,500!

first_imgWe’ve teamed up with B&H Photo Video to bring one lucky winner the Sony a7S II mirrorless camera, plus a lens, bag and memory. Enter for your chance to win this incredible camera pack!The Sony a7S II has been heralded for its low-light shooting ability, so we’ve dubbed our latest promotion the “Low-Light Dynamite Giveaway!” Enter to win the a7S II camera body, a high-quality Sony lens, a luxurious leather Ona camera bag, and enough memory to get you going. The entire prize pack is valued at over $3,500.This giveaway has now ended. Congrats to Steven Andrew from Youngstown, Ohio!Stay tuned to he blog, our Facebook and Twitter for future giveaways. Giveaway ends December 4, 2015 at 11:59 PST. Contest open worldwide, void where prohibited.One lucky winner will be randomly picked and contacted on December 5, 2015.Limit one entry per email address for giveaway duration.About PremiumBeat.comPremiumBeat.com is a curated royalty free music website that provides high-quality royalty free music tracks and sound effects for use in new and traditional media projects. With thousands of handpicked tracks in more than 30 music styles, PremiumBeat music is ideal for websites, online videos, mobile apps, television, radio, feature films and other professional applications.About B&H Photo Video & Pro AudioNew York based B&H Photo Video & Pro Audio  is the world’s leading retailer in photography, video and audio equipment.  B&H serves the pro market from their extensive website and NYC storefront location.  Their wide selection of high-quality gear and commitment to customer satisfaction makes B&H Photo Video & Pro Audio well-equipped to handle your professional photo, video and audio needs.  Visit B&HPhotoVideo.com to check out all the leading gear!About the Prize PackSony Alpha a7S II Mirrorless Digital Camera“Making strides in the video arena, the a7S II Mirrorless Digital Camera from Sony offers an impressive blend of sensitivity, dynamic range, resolution, and speed to benefit a versatile multimedia workflow. Revolving around a full-frame 12.2MP Exmor CMOS sensor, the a7S II is capable of internal UHD 4K recording at 30 fps with full pixel readout as well as 1080p recording at up to 120 fps, all in the XAVC S format. For both stills and video recording, the BIONZ X image processor also pairs with the sensor to enable expanded sensitivity to ISO 409600, continuous shooting to 5 fps, and fast intelligent autofocus with low-light sensitivity to -4 EV. ”Check out our Hands-On Review: Does the Sony a7S II Live up to the Hype?Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens“The black Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS Lens is a prime portrait-length lens featuring a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture and a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 75mm. The lens has a lightweight and compact design with an aluminum alloy lens barrel and engraved focusing ring to provide greater handling as well as an aesthetic appearance. Greatly benefitting handheld usage with this lens is Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, which works to minimize the appearance of camera shake by up to four shutter speed steps to support use in low-light conditions.”ONA Bowery Camera Bag“Handcrafted with full-grain Italian-tanned leather and detailed with antique brass accents, the Leather Bowery camera bag is both stylish and versatile. Featuring five exterior pockets for personal items and an interior padded with closed-cell foam, the Leather Bowery can carry a camera, one extra lens and small personal items.”SD Card 95mb/s 64 GB“The 64GB Extreme Pro UHS-I SDXC U3 Memory Card provides photographers and videographers with a high-speed SDXC memory card rated Ultra High Speed Class 3 (U3) and SDXC Class 10, offering up to 95 MB/s read and 90 MB/s write speeds. This high-capacity card is specifically engineered for sustained RAW + JPEG burst shooting modes and fast-action Full HD video recording.”last_img read more

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A Lack of Growth and The Failures of Accountability

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now When people write about the fact that less than fifty-percent of salespeople reach their quota, they often intimate that salespeople are somehow getting worse. Maybe they are getting worse, perhaps they aren’t. But if they are failing, pointing the bony finger of indignation at the salespeople is to avoid placing the blame where it belongs. The lack of growth for most sales organizations starts with a lack of accountability.Growth and Development“We can’t make our people take the training. We can’t take them out of the field. We don’t have time to coach. They already know how to sell.” You can have your excuses, or you can have the better results you need. You cannot, however, have both.There may have never been a time when training and development were needed as much as they are now. It turns out the idea of social selling was a lot less than people made it out to be. Instead, the internet and the proliferation of information, the smartphone, the new business models based on organizing underutilized assets, and the glut of competitors in every market made selling much more difficult than earlier times.It’s never been true that someone’s experience in sales guaranteed their performance. It’s always been true that people in any human endeavor who train and develop their teams produce better results. If you are not holding your people and yourself accountable for growing and developing, you are neglecting your single most valuable assets. If you want your people to get better, you have to make it a priority and hold them accountable.Prospecting for New Business“I can’t make my salesforce prospect. No one wants to make cold calls. My senior salespeople are too valuable to prospect.” If you are unwilling to hold people accountable for prospecting, how will you acquire the new opportunities you need? Salespeople only do two things: 1) create new opportunities, and 2) capture opportunities. The laws of the Universe require that one create opportunities as the prerequisite to capturing those opportunities. It’s the law of the farm.High performing sales organizations have a hunter culture. They are not only focused on acquiring new opportunities, but they target and pursue the most valuable prospects, i.e., Dream Clients. They are intentional in what they want and the actions they take. But the reason the culture exists is that these salespeople are held accountable for generating new opportunities.Selling Effectively“They have their own style. They’ve sold for a long time. I can’t tell them how to sell.” Losing isn’t a style. Selling poorly, as widespread as it is, also isn’t a style. We know a lot about how to sell successfully in the 21st Century. We know even more about what one should avoid.Your sales processes and methodologies are only suggestions if you allow them to be. Even though the sales conversation is nonlinear, it doesn’t mean that you should skip good discovery and the consensus that is now required if you want to win deals. Who allows a salesperson to have an hour-long phone conversation followed by an emailed pricing proposal and expects their team to win new business? If your salespeople are allowed to avoid doing the things necessary to acquire new clients or customers, many will do so.Opportunities are too hard to come by to do anything less than your best work pursuing them. If you want to win them, you need your team to sell effectively. You have to create accountability for excellence in selling.CRM Hygiene“They don’t want to use the CRM. I can’t make them. They don’t even know how to use it.” Let me offer some help with how to use a CRM. In the box that is titled “First Name,” you type in a contact’s first name. In the box titled, “Last Name,” you enter the contact’s last name. If your sales force doesn’t use the CRM, it is because they are allowed not to, not because they don’t know how.You depend on data and information to run your business. For many, forecasting is necessary to ensure they have the resources to serve their clients. If you are going to have meaningful discussions around opportunities, especially your deal strategy, it’s helpful to have the context necessary to make good decisions. There is nothing more important than your relationships, and there is no reason not to maintain the records of these relationships.There is no reason such a useful tool should be optional, and there should be no fear of holding people accountable for using the now long accepted tools of the trade.Disqualifying Bad Business“They have opportunities. How can they reach their number if we disqualify their deals?”The reason leaders fail to hold people accountable for disqualifying bad business is that it decimates most pipelines (sometimes referred to as “pipe-lies”). Leaders worry about not having the coverage they believe they need to reach their goals, so they allow some salespeople to hold on to hope while being even more hopeful themselves. Because these reps are allowed to keep their non-opportunities, they don’t have to create real—and better—opportunities.Non-deals are not better than no deals. They are the same, as neither produces any revenue and if a bad deal does, it comes at too great a cost. We have already dealt with the root cause here, prospecting. If you want a pipeline, you first need accountability.Reaching GoalsHow can you possibly hold people accountable to their goals, when you can’t get them to put their deals in your CRM? How do you make them responsible for their number when you don’t hold them accountable to create new opportunities?The same salespeople that fail for one leader succeed for another. The people you believe don’t want to perform better do want to improve, and they know they need to prospect. They want to sell more effectively, they want good business, and they want to reach their goals. But it isn’t easy for many, which is why they require your leadership.If you want your people to be accountable, you have to go first and hold yourself responsible for requiring what is necessary for your team to succeed.last_img read more

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NFL players’ union files grievance against Bengals on behalf of Eric Reid

first_imgShare on Twitter League policy does not prohibit demonstrating during the anthem. Referring to the labor agreement with the league, the union notes that NFL rules supersede any conflicting club rules.The union also says “at least one club owner has asked pre-employment interview questions about a player’s intent to demonstrate. We believe these questions are improper, given league policy.”While the union did not name the team in question, the Washington Post reported on Monday the grievance is connected to the Cincinnati Bengals, Reid’s only known free agency visit this offseason.The NFLPA’s actions come days after the 26-year-old filed a separate collusion grievance against the NFL with his attorney Mark Geragos alleging he has been kept out of the league due to his political stance.Reid’s deal with the 49ers expired in March and he has yet to receive a formal offer from any other team. On playing ability alone Reid would have expected to receive more attention: in 2013 he was named to the Pro Bowl as a rookie after being drafted in the first round and has had a solid career since. The five-year veteran is firmly in his prime and, after being shuffled about in San Francisco’s defense, his head coach Kyle Shanahan said Reid had been “playing his best football” at the end of last season. Reid did meet with the Bengals during the offseason but was not offered a contract. Pro Football Talk said Reid was asked during the meeting whether he would continue to protest and the player said he did not plan to. Some figures in the game say Reid’s situation is down to a slow market for safeties this offseason.Kaepernick has already filed a grievance of his own, alleging NFL teams and owners have colluded to keep him out of the league. Both Reid and Kaepernick’s grievances have been filed under under the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.“Our union is aware that Eric Reid and his legal representatives filed a collusion claim, which will be heard through the arbitration process as spelled out in our collective bargaining agreement,” the NFLPA said in a statement Wednesday. “Our union supports Eric and we are considering other legal options to pursue.”Reid started to kneel alongside Kaepernick in 2016 after consulting with former NFL player and military veteran Nate Boyer on how they could protest respectfully. He then knelt during the anthem for the entire season. He planned to stand for the anthem during the 2017 season but knelt again after the violent far-right protests in Charlottesville in August of that year.Reid’s younger brother, Justin, will enter the league this season after being drafted by the Houston Texans last weekend. Despite being touted as a first- or second-round selection by most evaluators he ended up dropping to the third round. Anthem protester Eric Reid files grievance alleging he is being kept out of NFL Support The Guardian Share on Pinterest Share on Facebook Share via Email NFL The NFL players’ union has filed a non-injury grievance on behalf of free agent safety Eric Reid, the former San Francisco 49ers safety who knelt alongside Colin Kaepernick during the protest against racial injustice in the United States. The NFL Players Association issued a statement on Monday citing a team appearing “to have based its decision not to sign a player based on the player’s statement that he would challenge the implementation of a club’s policy prohibiting demonstration” during the national anthem. Reuse this content US sports Share on LinkedIn … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Topics Colin Kaepernick Share on Messenger Share on WhatsApp Since you’re here… Read morelast_img read more

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The People Tracking Every Touch Pass And Tackle in the World Cup

With each click and drag of a mouse, young soccer fanatics are creating the building blocks of the advanced stats that are changing how the sport is played, watched and analyzed.Opta and Prozone are among the companies that have taken soccer stats far beyond goals and saves, into the realm of pass completion percentage, defensive touches, percentage of aerial balls won, tackle percentage and goals scored above expectation. Cameras alone can’t process all these stats. So companies employ people — mostly young, mostly male, most logging matches in their spare time as a second job — to watch matches and document every event.Their work has helped develop stats that capture the value of players who don’t score many goals, but who set them up with pinpoint passing and hustle. Teams use advanced stats to decide which players to buy and put on the pitch. And fans, whether they like it or not, read and hear more numbers than ever before about this sport that for so long bucked the sports-analytics trend.On a Sunday last month, Opta1Opta Sports provides soccer stats to ESPN, which owns FiveThirtyEight. Opta also provides stats for other sports, including cricket, rugby and motor sports. Last year, Opta was bought for 40 million pounds ($67 million) by Perform Group. let me watch as the loggers at its South London headquarters tracked the last 10 matches of England’s Premier League season. I stood among rows of young men at computer monitors as they scrutinized games, sometimes rewinding on one monitor to check a tough call while keeping track of the live feed on another. I tried to stay out of the way while their supervisor leapt away from watching his favorite team’s match to confirm every goal was attributed correctly. And I watched as Opta’s media team processed the raw numbers — 1,600 to 2,000 events per game — into TV-ready factoids, which they heard commentators repeat to TV audiences moments later.In soccer stats, as in so many other numbers-gathering endeavors, big data sets are built piece by piece by human collectors with human imperfections, moods and preferences. Throughout the year, 350 part-time analysts working in London and a half-dozen other Opta branches in Europe and North and South America record every pass, header and goal while watching live or recorded video of more than 14,000 matches around the world. The London operation I watched will be logging each of the World Cup’s 64 matches.Opta says software, standards and oversight can help it harness the best of human judgment while curbing any potential downsides. It sees the people behind its stats as a selling point. I wasn’t the first to be invited to watch. Many prospective customers visit during matches, said Aidan Cooney, chief executive of Opta. “Frankly, that sells the business.”The business is providing stats to professional clubs, to national teams, to leagues — as the official data provider for the top divisions in England, Spain and Germany — and to the media.A Tebow jersey and a Yankees capMy day at Opta was an unusually busy one: Every Premier League club was playing its last match of the season. The finale wasn’t as exciting as 2012’s: Manchester City was all but assured of edging Liverpool for the title, and most Champions League and Europa League slots had been sewn up. The biggest suspense was whether Tottenham would finish in sixth or seventh in the league.That was the case, anyway, for Paul Pettitt, 31, who is the assistant manager of data collection and a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. He spent the two hours between kickoff and final whistle alternately tracking Tottenham’s match against Aston Villa — when Tottenham took an early lead, he said he wanted a 25-goal win to contend for fifth place on goal differential — and jumping out of his chair to check on calls in other games, such as whether an early Swansea goal was a deflection. All logged events scrolled down a screen at his station, and when an important one came up, he conferred with the analyst who entered it.This is when soccer’s rare stoppages of play are so valuable for analysts. A lengthy goal celebration allows loggers to rewind and rewatch goals and other major events, often while Pettitt looks on.But most of the work is logging routine passes. Opta’s analysts log each one by dragging and clicking a mouse at the spot where the pass was received, then keying in the player who received it. Their monitors have an image of a soccer pitch in the background with video of the live match superimposed on top.Confusingly, to my eyes, the broadcast image hardly ever corresponded to the image on the field. So loggers had to drag the mouse to a spot that had nothing to do with the ball’s location in the video rectangle. None of the loggers I watched got stuck on this point: After all, this was the 38th and last match of the season.Each of the 10 matches had a pair of analysts assigned to it, plus a checker. Each analyst had his own monitor and tracked only one team’s touches. Sometimes the analysts conferred over calls — “Is it a tackle?” was a question in the fourth minute of the Liverpool match. (It wasn’t.)Until eight years ago, Opta didn’t even produce the live numbers that are now such a staple of TV broadcasts. Pettitt started at Opta in 2001, fortunately just as the company was phasing out pen-and-paper logging. He wasn’t lucky enough to miss the VCR era. “My elbow started aching after a while” from all the rewinding, he recalled.The more unusual a team’s formation, the harder it is to log its matches. A well-organized side like Barcelona can be easy to log, Khalid Hussain, U.K. training manager for Opta, said. Today he particularly enjoys challenging matches.At his peak, Hussain was logging 10 to 15 matches a week during each Premier League season. His primary assignment was Arsenal, and he also worked four nights a week covering matches around the world. He once logged six matches in a day. “Then I went home at the end, in a pretty bad state,” he said.All this meticulous work changed how Hussain, now 33, watches soccer. He became “very passionate” about Arsenal, to the point where he’d enjoy watching a Gunners match against Stoke more than Real Madrid versus Barcelona, a minority opinion in global soccer. When he clicked a name at one end of the pitch and then entered the same name at the other end seconds later, he came to appreciate the players who covered a lot of territory more than the flashy dribblers.And he learned that his previous pet stat of possession time doesn’t mean much. “Working here burst that bubble,” Hussain said. “It doesn’t matter how much ball you’ve got. You’ve still got to do something with it.”Hussain is mainly a supervisor now, though he pitches in as an analyst when needed. On this day, he logged Cagliari for its 1-0 loss to Chievo.2Opta didn’t make available for an interview any of its more junior analysts who were working the Premier League matches. Like other pinch-hitters who aren’t familiar with their assigned clubs’ players and formations, Hussain watched DVDs of recent Cagliari matches to prepare.The loggers Hussain supervises generally are between 18 and 24 years old and male. (“We’ve got two girls in Leeds, and one girl in Germany,” he said.) They love sports. They enter an office fantasy NFL league. They go home and play video games. They day I watched, none wore soccer apparel but I spotted a Tim Tebow jersey and a Yankees cap.It helps to be nuts about soccer, to appreciate “a job where they get to come in and watch football,” as Pettitt put it.There is occasionally cheering in the analysts’ box. “As much as you can try to control them, if Liverpool score a goal while Man City are down a goal, you might hear a yelp from our Liverpool fan, and probably some censored words as well,” Pettitt said.Candidates are tested for their understanding of soccer and their hand-eye coordination when using the Opta logging software. They have to type quickly with their left hands, without looking at the keyboard. Certified soccer coaches sometimes don’t have the required hand-eye coordination; the avid PlayStation players often do. “We give them five-hour tests, and pick out the ones who are best,” Hussain said.At that stage, successful applicants remain far from match-ready. It will be at least a month before they’ll produce usable data, even under the easiest conditions of logging a recorded match. “For training, they do the same game over and over for two or three days,” Hussain said.Cooney, the Opta chief executive, has tried his hand at logging, “much to everyone’s amusement,” he said. “It’s impossible, absolutely impossible for someone of my motor skill set,” he added. “If you don’t play PlayStation, basically, you’re finished.”Opta employs full-time analysts to review every event of the matches it logs, a process that can take three to five hours. Its live analysts get 99 percent of player identifications correct, Pettitt said.The match-trackers are rated on their performance, and the best get spare games.3Opta doesn’t disclose how much it pays analysts. It creates a competition, and “keeps them on their toes,” Hussain said. He’s confident that today he’s one of the best loggers in London. He also gets to travel to train loggers at offices around Europe.The dubious goals panelAmong Opta’s competitors is Prozone Sports, which tracks players on the pitch using cameras and player-recognition systems. Stewart Mairs, the U.S. operations manager for Prozone, said the company’s optical tracking system — like SportsVU’s for the NBA — gives it a leg up over Opta. The system produces millions of data points per game.Prozone, like Opta, needs human loggers, too. Prozone’s cameras sometimes can’t tell players apart when they cluster, and don’t distinguish crucial game events. So it employs coders, usually interns or students who are interested in soccer, Mairs said. Like at Opta, they are supervised and trained by more experienced managers, and, for big matches, supplemented by more experienced coders.Cooney said Opta is offering something different from camera tracking. “People want analytics,” he said. “That requires holistic data sets, which only we can deliver.”Keeping standards consistent across offices is vital for Opta. An assist needs to mean the same thing in London, New York and Montevideo. Soccer stats already have plenty of doubters, and it doesn’t help that different companies track different numbers. Also, individual companies sometimes change what they track, as Opta does nearly every year after an annual review. (Possibly coming soon: more detail on fouls.)So it’s all the more important that a company’s data can be trusted across space and time. “What we’ve had as a clearance” — a defender clearing a ball out of the goal area — “has always been the same, and will not change,” Pettitt said.In addition to post-match reviews, Opta monitors stats across leagues, to make sure they don’t vary too much — and if they do, that it’s because of style of play and not analyst inconsistency.Opta also updates its stats according to decisions of a Premier League group called the dubious goals panel, which weighs whether a player should be awarded a goal when, say, the shot deflected off a defender.Close calls mean the live data is provisional. It’s good enough for television broadcasters, who pepper Opta’s media team with questions via instant message during the matches. I wandered over to watch the media group in action during play. They sat next to a wall with six television screens, usually more than enough but four short of the required number on this day. So laptops filled the gap.During play, the media team moved quickly. Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel scored an own goal in the 20th minute. Duncan Alexander, 36, head of U.K. content and customer services for Opta, told his colleague to “run it” —  in other words, to check that Skrtel had just set the league record for most own goals in a season, with four. The stat was confirmed, sent to the broadcasting company Sky, and announced by studio host Jeff Stelling right after the commercial break.Later, Stelling mentioned that Fulham had used 38 players this season, a new record. I asked if that was from Opta. Alexander nodded.These sorts of stats are nice to have, but won’t change the way managers set their lineups or choose tactics. However, the work of Opta and its ilk have brought soccer, very slowly, into the wider statistical revolution in sports. Alexander and Pettitt pointed to the increasing prominence of assists. A decade ago, “some people would refuse to give assists credence,” Alexander said.Opta’s soccer-stats professionals acknowledge their numbers aren’t for everyone. “There will always be fans who, to use a phrase we hear occasionally, say the only stat they care about is the one in the top left-hand corner” — the score, Alexander said. “We’re not zealots. We don’t bang the drum saying, you have to view football the way we do.” read more

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