Health and Fitness: Ways to get the kids moving during school holidays

FUN AND PHYSICAL: Bubble Soccer is one way to get the kids moving these school holidays. But there are plenty of other options that don’t include a cost. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers“I’m bored.”“I’m hungry.”“Can I watch TV?”

If I had a dollar for every time I have heard this in the past few weeks then I would have a good little savings account going.

Keeping the kids amused and out of each other’s hair during the school holidays requires planning and mental stamina.

It is easy to clock up the screen hours and I have to admit my kids have been watchingmore TV than normal, butI don’t feel too bad about it if they have been out and burned off some energy for a few hours in the morning then again in the afternoon.

My mantra during this timehas been: ‘Get them out to wear them out.’

We have been hitting the pool, beach or park most days and last week we took ona trampoline park which gave us all a good workout.

One thing I have found though is it can get pretty costly going to places like the pool and trampoline park.

If you are looking for ways to get the kids moving these holidays here are a few suggestions that carry a cost:

■Trampoline parks. One hour here and the kids, and you, will be ready for an afternoon nap.

■Ice skating. It provides a cool option on a hot day and requires the use of many muscles.

■Ninja Parc or Climb. The Parc in Cooks Hill offers holiday sessions to get the kids moving through ninja obstacles courses or challenging themselves on the new climbing zone.

■Hit a pool. Call your local pool to see if they have any activities scheduled such as inflatable zones. Another option is booking the kids in for some intensive swimming lessons.

■Sporting clinic. There are a range of sporting clinics available through the holidays, such as InZane Football which offers full day or full week camps. Surfing lessons are another option.

Free activities include hitting the beach, going for a walk, ride or scoot along the Fernleigh Track, Bathers Way, Nobbys Breakwall or around Lake Macquarie, bushwalking through Glenrock, Mount Sugarloaf or Blackbutt, taking on a parkrun at one of the 12 locations in the Hunter region or just heading to your local park.

According to aNSW Government article( I read recently,only 26 per cent of children areactive enough.

So getting them moving any way you can is good I think.

The article also said 62 per cent of children eat enough fruit but only five per cent eatenough vegetables.

I have three kids who all want to eat different things so I have tried to get a bit more creative with snacks in the holidays.

I have been making breakfast smoothies and afternoon fruit frappes. Slipping a good handful of baby spinach in with frozen banana and frozen mango or berries has been one way I have been getting more vegetables into them. I also adda cup of oats to morning smoothies to give us all some sustained energy.

SNACK OPTIONS: Adding baby spinach or kale to frozen fruit smoothies is a good way to get more vegetables into yours and your kids’ diet.

Sizzling Summer SessionsIf you are looking to improve your fitness it is always helpful to do some standard tests that you can revisit down the track.

You may not notice differences during your program so this is a good way to see results and stay motivated.

Some ideas includea 20-minute walk/run. Use the same course and measure how far you make. Do it again after four weeks, eight and 12 to gauge improvements.

Do one minute of short shuttles at a good pace and record how many you can do.

You could also do a set time in the pool, on the rower or on a bike.

Upcoming fitness eventsAcross the Harbour swim, Newcastle harbour, January 26:Choose from a 1400-metre return swim from Queens Wharf to Stockton and back, or theone-way option of 700m starting on Stockton side. This iconic Newcastle event has proven popular in the past and returns tothe calendar after an absence.

Nobbys to Newcastle Ocean Swim, Nobbys beach, January 27:A2km ocean swim fromNobbys to Newcastle beach.

NewRun, Newcastle Foreshore, April 15:One for the whole family with races ranging from 2km for kids to 21.1km. The good news is you still have three months to prepare.

Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three. [email protected]老域名出售.au.

Barbarouses seals a dramatic late win for Victory

A cool late finish by Kosta Barbarouses with less than a minute of normal time remaining was enough to give Melbourne Victory a nerve-wracking 3-2 win over Perth Glory in a dramatic finale at a rain-lashed AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Spanish striker Diego Castro looked as though he had rescued a point for the visitors when he sprang Victory’s defensive line with five minutes remaining to lob an equaliser over Victory’s stand-in goalkeeper Matt Acton. That would have been a result which Victory boss Kevin Muscat would have seen as an injustice after his side bounced back strongly after conceding a goal in the second minute of the game.

But Barbarouses’ late strike, when he finished from a superb cross field pass from Leroy George, restored Muscat’s smile and left Glory boss Kenny Lowe cursing his luck.

Lowe had delivered his players a huge serve in full view of the cameras at training last week, and if he was looking for an immediate reaction he got it in the shape of a goal within 90 seconds.

Victory failed to deal with a corner from the Glory right and when the ball fell out wide on the left to Walter Scott the youngster needed little invitation to whip a cross back into the danger area.

Defender Scott Neville escaped his markers and flashed a header past Acton, who was forced to pick the ball out of his own net less than two minutes into his first appearance of the season.

Acton was playing because regular goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas suffered a foot injury in Victory’s controversial 2-1 loss to Wellington, but he wasn’t the only change to Muscat’s line up.

Muscat also shuffled his midfield to include new signing Terry Antonis for his first start in a Victory shirt.

Like the rest of his teammates he began this game slowly and Victory collectively looked like a team coming to terms with being caught so cold so early.

But Antonis was quick to stamp his influence on the game. Two footed and with good vision and control, he showed that he wanted the ball as much as he could get it, and displayed an impressive range of passing both left and right, short and long as he tried to kick-start his new team’s revival.

George, the Dutch winger who has been a shining light in an otherwise rather dull season for Victory, also got into the groove and began to create space and opportunities on both flanks as he ranged from left to right.

Antonis’ clever flighted ball set up Barbarouses in the 16th minute, but the Kiwi winger’s fierce drive flew across the face of goal. Minutes later the same two players linked again, Antonis once more the provider, before Barbarouses’ cross was headed to safety by Neville.

George then switched to the right and glided past Scott and Xavier Torres before feeding James Troisi, but the latter could not get his cross over.

Antonis linked well with full-back Jason Geria before George, back on the left flank, skated past Glory full-back Jeremy Walker to set up Barbarouses, but he put his effort straight at goalkeeper Liam Reddy.

Victory got the goal their pressure deserved approaching the half-hour mark, and George was heavily involved yet again.

The Dutchman intercepted a lazy pass in the centre of the field by Castro, burst forward and played a one-two with Besart Berisha which left him clear in space. George’s initial shot was blocked by Reddy, but he managed to scramble the rebound into space and Troisi reacted quickest of all, smashing the ball home to level the score.

After the restart, Victory got their noses in front, with George again playing a major role.

The Dutchman whipped in a tantalising, curling cross from a free kick wide on the Victory right which Milligan, reacting quicker than the Glory defence, got to first before lashing a shot past Reddy on the half-volley.

With 19 minutes remaining Leigh Broxham eventually made his 250th appearance, replacing Dino Djulbic in the middle of the back four, and, after a topsy turvy finale, was able to celebrate in style.

Amateur drone photographer off to a flying start

Luke Keesmaat has owned a drone for four months. In his spare time he fliesas much as he can. Drone class.

“I‘d been considering buying a drone for 6 to 12 months beforehand.”

The 30-year-old marketing officer from Albury iskeen to take his video skills to the next level.

“I’vealways done video as a hobby. I work with a university so I do video forthem occasionally. With my job, I’m hoping to be able to incorporate that into what we do.”

And frankly, he’s surprised at the results.

“The weir [Lake Hume] – it kind of impressed me. I wasn’t expecting to it look so epic. It almost looked like something out of a movie.”

Imposing structures and drones go beautifully together and Luke has captured this at 1:21 when the drone scales the weir floodgates.

All up this package took Luke about a day to put together. He chose a quiet afternoonto go out to Lake Hume and was there for an hour and a half. Then there was a few hours editing time. Luke uses the video editing software Premiere Pro but saysiMovie is just as good at times and quicker, especially for titles.

That flying feeling

Luke says seeing things from a new perspective keeps drone cinematographyexciting.

“It’s interesting to get perspectives on things that you ordinarily wouldn’t be able to see.”

“When I take footage of people’s houses – they don’t even recognise their own houses. Being able to see things from unique angles.”

Amateur drone photographer off to a flying start GREAT WALL: Luke Keesmaat captures the weir wall with his drone at Lake Hume.

UP AND AWAY: Luke Keesmaat has been flying his drone for four months. Photos: supplied

IMPOSING: The weir wall and the drone captured by Luke Keesmaat at Lake Hume.

UP AND AWAY: Luke Keesmaat has been flying his drone for four months. Photos: supplied

SUN DOWN: Luke Keesmaat’s drone panorama at Lake Hume.

UP AND AWAY: Luke has been flying his drone for four months. Photos: supplied

TweetFacebookThere are cheaper drones on the market. These are Luke’s start up costs:

Invested between $1,700 and $2,000 for the drone.Uses an iPad mini as a screen.Spent another $500 to $1,000 to get properly set up.SET UP = $2,300

For Luke the drone decision was about investing in the future.

“I didn’t want just get something lower quality and then upgrade. I had the idea in mind to gohigher quality and do it for business in the future and not upgrade later.”

Portability was also a key criteria.

“I wanted to theability to take it travelling – it folds up into a little bag and I took it on as carry-on to America and Holland.”

“The Mavic Prostood out – you can fold it down and take it with you.”

Advice for others eyeing off a drone

“Do yourresearch and make sure youare buying the right productfor youas it is an investment.Ensure that it is what you want to do and get on forums and discuss with the experts first and work out what you’re wanting to do and what yourrequirements are.”

And practice!

“I just took it out into an open space and had a practice. That’s how I’ve been learning. There’s a lot of stuff online, forums as well where you can get a lot of information so that part ispretty easy.”

Drone licensing and the flying rules

It’s important to note you need a Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) licence if you want to fly commercially and charge clients.

“I’m in the process of getting a CASA License – you need that if you want to do it commercially,” says Luke.

“The weir is okay because the local laws are five kilometreswithin the airport and 30 metres from people.”

“It’s down the track as to whether I do it personally or a longer term goal do videos for other people.”​

Roger Federer and family-friendly entourage join thousands at Chinan Open ‘Kids Tennis Spectacular’

Roger Federer of Switzerland (right) is seen alongside a person dressed as Spiderman as he participates in the Rod Laver Arena Spectacular as part of Kids Tennis Day at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Saturday, January 13, 2018. (AAP Image/Julian Smith) NO ARCHIVINGYou know the n Open is in town when you see KIA cars zipping through the CBD ferrying players between hotels and Melbourne Park.

You know the n Open is in town when shop windows are filled with tennis balls in a nod to the grand slam of the Asia-Pacific.

But most of all, you know the n Open is in town when the world’s most family-friendly entourage rolls into Melbourne – that of 19-time grand slam winner Roger Federer and crew.

Their first appearance for the week came on Saturday at Rod Laver Arena at the Kids Tennis Spectacular.

The entourage – consisting of Roger’s wife Mirka, their two sets of twins (Myla Rose, Charlene Riva, Lenny and Leo), plus three nannies (we could see three but some say there are four) – were courtside to watch Roger be watched by 15,000 others.

Mirka stood throughout the event to take photos of her children, who like the others in the stadium were besotted with the light show and entertainment.

Federer was joined on court by women’s No.2 seed and former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, 12-time grand slam winner Novak Djokovic and 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic.

Federer is the n Open’s defending champion. He beat current world No.1 and 2018 n Open No.1 seed Rafael Nadal in 2017’s dream final.

The Swiss master is the No.2 seed for the 2018 event and is ranked No.2 in the world. He has won the n Open five times.

Nadal and Novak Djokovic – traditionally Federer’s two biggest grand slam rivals – are both returning to tennis from injury at the n Open. Nadal has been sidelined since November and Djokovic since July.

Given their fitness, or lack of, Federer could become the first player to 20 grand slams in the open era this month.

Before Federer, Wozniacki, Raonic and Djokovic emerged, the crowd of mostly children were whipped into a frenzy by n pop band Sheppard plus a pair of children’s entertainers.

Among other shouting and rabble rousing the entertainers started a Mexican wave that went around Rod Laver Arena 10 or 15 times.

Marvel super heroes hit the court too – Thor, Black Widow, Ant-Man and Spiderman. They were called out to scare off Loki (Thor’s nemesis) who threatened to stop the n Open from taking place. Luckily they did.

Then it was time for the real super heroes, with the loudest cheer coming for Federer, easily the most super of them all.

He played a short hit-to-hit with a lucky girl from the crowd. She used Wozniacki’s racquet and Federer actually returned one of her shots into the net. That kid won a point against the best tennis player of all-time.

Djokovic played his role as ‘the Djoker’ once the quartet began hitting balls together – it was Federer and Wozniacki vs Raonic and Djokivic.

The Serbian convinced Thor to grab Raonic’s racquet and have a hit and also began loudly grunting into his microphone during the friendly hit up.

Djokovic is known for impersonating other players on tour but only used the grunt on Saturday, which could have been a homage to any number of his fellow professionals. I don’t think that was the Hulk Smash they were looking for, @milosraonicpic.twitter老域名出售/cJ4OQQCqp6??? #AusOpen (@nOpen) January 13, 2018

Amazon chief Jeff Bezos jumps into immigration debate with $42m donation to scholarship fund for ‘dreamers’​

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced he is donating $US33 million ($42 million) to a scholarship fund for young “dreamers,” immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

The donation comes amid fresh pressure from business leaders as talks on Capitol Hill over how to resolve the legal status of dreamers are foundering. The White House and some GOP lawmakers rejected a tentative deal from a bipartisan Senate group on Thursday -the same day President Donald Trump made incendiary remarks about people from developing countries.

Bezos, who is the wealthiest person in the world, and his wife, MacKenzie, will be donating the sum to TheDream.US, a scholarship program that has awarded more than 1,700 immigrants more than $US19 million in financial assistance since it launched in 2014.

The money will help fund 1,000 college scholarships and is the largest donation yet to a fund established by Donald Graham, the former publisher of The Post who sold the company to Bezos in 2013.

In reference to African countries and Haiti, Trump reportedly said “why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Photo: AP

Graham launched TheDream.US with Henry Munoz III, the finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee, and Carlos Gutierrez, who served as commerce secretary under President George W. Bush.

In a statement announcing the donation, Bezos cited the story of his adopted father, who left Cuba as part of Operation Pedro Pan. “He landed in this country alone and unable to speak English,” Bezos said in a statement. “With a lot of grit and determination – and the help of some remarkable organisations in Delaware – my dad became an outstanding citizen, and he continues to give back to the country that he feels blessed him in so many ways. MacKenzie and I are honoured to be able to help today’s Dreamers by funding these scholarships.”

The donation “is a shot in the arm for Dreamer students at a time when some are questioning whether they should be in the United States at all,” said Candy Marshall, president of TheDream.US. “We would invite anyone who questions the value of Dreamers to please come meet some of our students.”

Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, will be donating the sum to TheDream.US, a scholarship program that has awarded more than 1,700 immigrants more than $US19 million in financial assistance since it launched in 2014. Photo: AP

The group previously has received grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Inter-American Development Bank, Patty Stonesifer and Michael Kinsley, among others.

Trump plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in March unless Congress replaces it. The Obama-era program provides temporary legal protections to roughly 700,000 dreamers.

Democrats, under intense pressure from immigrant advocates, are trying to use their leverage to force a long-sought immigration deal as part of talks to keep the government open beyond a January19 spending deadline.

In a bid to bolster the negotiations, more than 100 corporate leaders this week co-signed a letter to Congress calling for immediate legal relief to dreamers. The corporate leaders said, “The imminent termination of the DACA program is creating an impending crisis for workforces across the country.”

Bezos co-signed the letter along with tech titans Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Tim Cook of Apple and top leaders from General Motors, AT&T, the Gap, Target, Starbucks, Johnson & Johnson, Warby Parker, Uber, Lyft and others. Pressure from top business leaders could pay dividends in the closing days of the high-stakes negotiations that party leaders believe could lead to an agreement soon.

Bezos is a frequent target of Trump, who has accused the businessman of purchasing The Post to advance his business interests. In late December, the president called for the U.S. Postal Service to raise shipping rates that it charges Amazon老域名出售 in a deal that he said disadvantages the federal agency.

Bezos did not respond to Trump’s comments, but Amazon has defended its arrangement with USPS, noting that federal postal regulators consider the agreement profitable for the mail service.

Donations to higher education are a frequent way for the world’s wealthiest individuals to spread their wealth. Bill and Melinda Gates, through their Gates Foundation, have pledged $US1 billion over 20 years to their Millennium Scholars program. Vedanta University in India is the recipient of the largest individual donation, a $US1 billion endowment established by the Anil Agarwal Foundation, according to records kept by the Chronicle for Higher Education.

Man charged following fatal South Coast crash that killed Olympian’s wife

A 39-year-old man has been charged following a fatal head-on crash on the NSW South Coast last week, which left an Olympian fighting for his life, killed his wife, and injured a young boy.

Emergency services were called to Matron Porter Drive at Milton on Thursday afternoon after a head-on collision between a Volvo and a Subaru Forester.

The Subaru was driven by 36-year-old Hamid Mobarrez, an Olympian for Iran and the head swimming coach at an all-girls private school in eastern Sydney.

Mr Mobarrez was driving east with his wife, Tamara, and a five-year-old child when their car was involved in a collision with a westbound Volvo driven by the 39-year-old man about 3.50pm.

Mrs Mobarrez, 36, was unable to be revived and died at the scene, while Mr Mobarrez was trapped in the car, suffering multiple fractures and suspected spinal injuries.

He was cut out of his car and taken to St George Hospital, where he remained in a stable condition as of Saturday evening. The five-year-old child was flown to Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick where he is in intensive care with head and facial injuries.

The Volvo driver was taken to Milton Hospital with minor injuries and underwent mandatory testing, before being transferred to St George Hospital for treatment.

He was discharged from hospital on Saturday, and taken to Kogarah police station where he was charged with dangerous driving occasioning death, two counts of dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, negligent driving occasioning death and negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

The man was given bail, and is due to appear at Sutherland Local Court on February 20.

Mr Mobarrez is the head swimming coach at Kincoppal Rose Bay School and Mrs Mobarrez worked in administration in the school’s aquatic centre.

At the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, he represented Iran in the men’s 100-metre freestyle. In 2007, he held Iran’s record for 100-metre butterfly.

In a statement, Swimming NSW described Mr Mobarrez as a “highly regarded” coach, and said the crash occurred “near Mollymook where Hamid was conducting a camp for his swimmers”.

“Our love and deepest sympathy are with Hamid and Eli at this time and we offer our sincere condolences with the loss of their beautiful wife and mother,” the organisation said.

Swimming NSW has established a GoFundMe page for Mr Mobarrez and the boy, to raise funds for convalescence. By yesterday evening, about $62,500 had been raised. Judy Brown, who arrived at the scene shortly after the crash, said it was a “sweeping bend”.

Another passer-by, Lisa Elmas, had also pulled the Falkholt sisters from the wreckage of their family car following a separate, head-on crash on Boxing Day. Lars Falkholt and his wife Vivian died in the crash. Their daughter Annabelle, 21, died several days later, while their daughter Jessica, 28, has had her life support turned off.

Lealiifano proves cancer hasn’t slowed him down one iota

21 July 2017. Super Rugby Quarter Final. ACT Brumbies v Wellington Hurricanes at Canberra Stadium. There was no fairytale return for Brumbies’ Christian Lealiifano. Photo: Sitthixay DitthavongChristian Lealiifano has proven cancer did nothing to weaken his rugby prowess as the ACT Brumbies star brings his superb European campaign to a close this week.

Lealiifano made a remarkable return from leukaemia in the Brumbies final game last season and then continued his incredible comeback joining Ulster on a five-month loan.

The 30-year-old has been an influential figure at the Irish powerhouse, making 15 appearances and scoring 47 points, despite arriving just a week before the start of the season.

Lealiifano kicked a match-winning sideline conversion against Benetton and was named man of the match in Ulster’s massive win against Harlequins on December 16.

His final game will be against Wasps next week, before rejoining the Brumbies with five weeks to prepare for their Super Rugby opener against the Sunwolves on February 24.

ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has kept a close eye on Lealiifano’s progress and said he was not surprised to see the playmaker dominating.

“Christian has been playing well, we’ve spoken quite a bit and he’s enjoying it and we’ve all benefited to this point but he’s keen to get home and get stuck into what we’re doing,” McKellar said.

“Early on it was probably challenging for him from a condition point of view, which was to be expected, but he’s certainly been a key player for them with the direction he provides around the park.

“The benefit for Christian was to get away from Canberra, he’s played all his rugby at the Brumbies and was due to go and play for Suntory [in Japan] before he was diagnosed.

“He missed that opportunity so it was good he could get away and experience a new life and culture and club and enjoy the time with his family.”

Lealiifano will be given a few days to get over his jetlag but after that McKellar said he’ll be throwing the veteran into the thick of things to get him up to Super Rugby speed.

“Whilst he’s been playing games, I think because of the style of rugby and positional play it’s not at the same speed, it’s certainly a physical game, but probably not as quick,” McKellar said.

“There’ll be an adjustment there and we’ll make sure we manage his load while getting him through the work he needs to do to get him up to speed with how we want to play.”

The prodigal son David Pocock is set to return for the Brumbies next week. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Lealiifano’s presence at Ulster has been so popular that he’s spent time captaining the side during their Pro 14 and European Champions Cup campaigns.

The Brumbies are yet to name their skipper for next season but McKellar confirmed Lealiifano was amongst the players he was considering.

“Christian has clearly had an impact over there, for a bloke on loan and a foreign player to be made captain goes to show the significant contribution he has made,” McKellar said.

“He’s in the mix with guys like Sam Carter, David Pocock and others and we’ll make an announcement over the next few weeks but regardless of who is captain, those players will all be leaders.”

Pocock is also due back in the capital next week after his sabbatical and stint with the Wild Knights finished with a loss against Suntory in Japan’s club rugby championship final on Saturday.

“The group has been working hard for the past least six weeks and we’re certainly in a good place but being able to add two experienced players of their quality is only going to be a positive for us,” McKellar said.

“Right now it’s head down arse up, we’ve been training at a really high intensity since before Christmas and we’ll continue that through to the trials and then make sure we’re ready to go on February 24.”

Last touch will give AFLW a modern touch

Even after a successful first season AFLW needed to adapt to ensure it became even more watchable.

So the last touch rule has been introduced to the competition this season, meaning a free kick will be paid against a team where a kick or handball goes out of bounds without being touched by an opposition player.

Statistics contained in Champion Data’s AFLW Prospectus show why the move was made with the women’s game having 18 more stoppages and 25 more tackles over 100 minutes of football than the men’s game in 2018, while the women scored 25 points less than the men in that 100-minute timeframe.

Only Melbourne and Adelaide kicked 10 goals in a game last season.

Carlton star Lauren Arnell accepts the rationale behind the change and is hopeful it will have the desired effect.

“If any game is faster and more high scoring – it doesn’t matter whether it is AFL or any sport – people enjoy watching it,” Arnell said.

Arnell, a veteran of the women’s game, understands how more goals helps market the game and its stars with her teammate Darcy Vescio already one of the competition’s more recognisable players although she only needed to kick 14 goals to be the AFLW’s leading goalkicker.

AFLW players expect the game to open up as a result of the rule change with the advantage of pace and fitness becoming even more pronounced than in AFLW’s first season when transitioning the ball from end to end became difficult at times and play was often congested.

Former Hawthorn and Carlton player Daniel Harford, who joined the coaching panel of Collingwood’s AFLW team this season, told The Sunday Age the Magpies’ women adapted to the new rule on the training track as soon it was introduced.

However he suspects the rule won’t have as big an impact on increasing scoring as the improved skills and athleticism of the women players as the game evolves.

“We think perhaps there is not going to be as big an influence as some have suggested with last touch,” Harford said.

“The next five years will be interesting because the talent level will really rise and that will put some pressure on some players who have found their way into the system in the first couple of years.”

The statistics show that with shorter game time and the gap between talent levels within teams wider than in the men’s competition, the measures followers of the men’s game became used to don’t necessarily apply in the women’s game.

For example, Champion Data consider an AFLW player collecting 17 disposals equivalent to a AFL player snagging 30 in a game.

The Western Bulldogs’ Emma Kearney was the only female player to reach the 30 mark in 2017, an indication it will remain out of reach for all but the very best but as the talent pool grows the numbers of players with high-end talent should grow too.

Harford, who coached at local level before joining the Magpies, said he has been able to draw on the statistical analysis of AFLW from last season but no one is getting too technical just yet.

“It just shapes a few things. You don’t want to go too far specifically analysing the data and trying to impact the play on the back of that,” Harford said.

“There are so many layers of professionalism and play and structure and strategy that they need to understand first as a group before you can really drill into those stats and use them as markers.”

That will be music to the ears of those who think the game is too over analysed at the moment anyway but it won’t stop the direction of AFLW and the impact of new rules such as the last touch being closely monitored.

The trick for the AFL and those involved in the women’s game is to ensure it retains the freshness important to its appeal while ensuring the athletes involved have the opportunity to become as good at the sport as possible.

In order to do that, the game must continually change.

Gallant but error-prone Barty falls short against Kerber in final


Ashleigh Barty missed out on a Sydney International title on Saturday as former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber confirmed she was ready to launch an almighty assault on next week’s n Open.

Germany’s Kerber produced a clinical 6-4, 6-4 win to end Barty’s golden run in the tournament, the n hitting the ball into the net after yet another powerful Kerber forehand to end the match.

It was an improved showing from ‘s top-ranked player from Friday’s three-set semi-final win over Daria Gavrilova, although she still produced 38 unforced errors to go with the 42 she struck a day earlier.

But a lot of these came from Barty trying to hit winners against the brilliant Kerber, whose heavy ground strokes gave her opponent little opportunity to dominate rallies.

“I felt like it was a pretty good level, to be honest. I felt like I probably played some of the better tennis that I have this week,” Barty said.

“And Angie is on fire. She’s such a competitor and makes you work so hard for each point.

“Angie is obviously back to the top of her game. She’d probably tell you that herself, that she’s feeling great on the court and she’s feeling the best that she has.”

Barty’s serve was much improved too, hitting just one double fault from the nine she dished up in the Gavrilova match. Unfortunately the double fault she did hit was when trying to stave off a break point in the opening set.

From there Kerber took control and stayed in charge, pilfering another key break in the seventh game of the second set before convincingly serving out the match.

“What she did in the last year, it’s amazing. I mean, where she was and where she is now, I think it’s a huge step,” Kerber said of Barty.

“She will have still a great 2018. I’m very sure about this.”

This was Kerber’s first title since lifting the US Open crown in 2016 – the same year she triumphed at the n Open when lifting her maiden grand slam title.

It puts paid to a sub-par 2017 where she tumbled out of the top 20 and was knocked out in the first round of two of the four majors.

She heads into Melbourne as the 21st seed next week and has landed in the intriguing second quarter of the draw which includes world No. 3 Garbine Muguruza, and Maria Sharapova playing in her first n Open since serving her doping ban.

“Next week starts a completely new tournament, new city, we are all starting from zero,” Kerber said.

“Every match will be tough, but first of all, I will just be enjoying today, the title, and then from tomorrow I will be thinking about Melbourne.”

Barty tipped Kerber to be one of the major contenders in Melbourne.

“In my eyes, she has just as big a chance as anyone else, she’s obviously won the title and knows what it takes,” Barty said.

“What she’s achieved in her career, the accolades she’s had, you can’t do anything but respect her.

“Angie was probably one of the first girls that sort of welcomed me when I first came on to the tour when I was quite young. She always made time for me. I think there is that mutual respect, which is amazing to get respect from such a champion like Angie.”

Barty also looks to have set herself for a deep run at the n Open, after making the third round of the tournament last year.

She has Aryna Sabalenka in the first round, before a possible second match against Sydney International semi-finalist Camila Giorgi.

Potentially awaiting in the fourth round is world No. 1 Simona Halep.

Should Kerber and Sharapova both win their opening two matches, they will square off in a mouth-watering third-round clash made all the more spicy by recent tension between the pair.

Sharapova was given a wildcard in Stuttgart in March last year, even though her suspension didn’t allow her to play her first-round match until the third day of the tournament – a decision Kerber labelled at the time as “a little bit strange”.

When asked her opinion on Sharapova returning to the n Open earlier this week, Kerber was only willing to offer: “She’s back and she played not bad in the last few weeks.”

Shape up or ship out: Aussies step up 2019 World Cup plans

The plethora of one-day internationals have become a scourge the International Cricket Council is looking to erase. It’s hoped there will be fewer matches, but they will have greater weight when the new ODI championship is introduced from 2019, for they will count towards World Cup qualification.

While is already assured of appearing at the 2019 showpiece event in England, the five-match series against England beginning at the MCG on Sunday offers plenty to play for individually, for this is the time when the national selectors sharpen their culling process.

Selection chairman Trevor Hohns knows all about this, having overseen ‘s winning World Cup campaigns of 1999 and 2003.

This included ending the one-day careers of Test greats Ian Healy and Mark Taylor a year after losing the 1996 World Cup final to Sri Lanka, and dumping Mark and Steve Waugh a year out from the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. In Mark Waugh’s case, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist were confirmed as the new opening partnership, while Steve was not only axed as captain but from the team.

Ricky Ponting was made captain and a refreshed unit, free of the controversial rotation policy of that time, would charge unbeaten through the ’03 World Cup and again in ’07, when Andrew Hilditch had replaced Hohns as chairman.

More than a decade on, the selectors, with Hohns back at the helm, have been praised for making the right calls this Ashes summer – and hope to replicate those heading into the 2019 World Cup defence.

Fairfax Media understands the selectors do not yet believe they have assembled a big enough core group of players, and this remains a major focus.

Hohns, in Melbourne this week, already has not been afraid to deliver a statement to Glenn Maxwell by controversially dropping him and recalling Cameron White for his first match since 2015.

Maxwell, the leading run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield, was put on standby for the Ashes opener in Brisbane but there are suspicions his axing from the ODI squad has just as much to do with form in the 50 overs format – having averaged 22 in his past 20 matches – as it has off-field issues. Smith wants him to train smarter – that is, become a more conventional batsman – while the whispering campaign about how well he gets on with teammates, along with other issues, have been bubbling through cricketing circles.

Maxwell was part of the winning 2015 campaign, one that already has had four definite changes after the retirements of Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson. James Faulkner, like Maxwell, has lost his spot, with Marcus Stoinis and Mitch Marsh the preferred all-rounders.

Peter Handscomb was a part of ‘s last one-day series campaign, in India, but also finds himself on the outer after a year where the national side won only five of 15 completed one-day matches – four against Pakistan.

There were 25 players used last year, in part because of injury, form and experimentation, while six were rotated through the crucial No.4 spot – a position traditionally reserved for the best batsman. The time is right for Travis Head, who played in every match ODI last year, or White to seize that prize.

Head, given that responsibility in the 4-1 series loss to India in September, failed to deliver a half-century in all five matches but will have first bite against England.

“The middle order is probably where we have had a bit of an issue. Guys up the top have been scoring some big runs, Davey [Warner] has been exceptional in one-day cricket for the last couple of years. Finchy [Aaron Finch] played very well in our last series in India so our middle order is a key area for us to focus on,” Smith said.

“We need runs out of that middle order, in particular wickets in hand to have an onslaught at the back end of the game, something that we haven’t done.”

The frontline pace attack of Mitch Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins is set but it remains a guessing game as to who will be the back-up quicks come England. Nathan Coulter-Nile, the leading wicket-taker in the Indian series (10), would appear to be No.4 when fit but his career is in limbo because of stress fractures in his lower back.

Kane Richardson, Billy Stanlake and John Hastings were all given a go last year – now West n pacemen Andrew Tye and Jhye Richardson have a chance to debut.

Another debate is who will get the job behind the stumps. Matthew Wade was seen to be the man but his ODI form with the bat against India, compounding his troubles in Test cricket, gave selectors no other option but to drop him. He managed only 34 runs at 11.3, and was replaced by Handscomb in one match. He had only the one innings in the Champions Trophy in England (two runs) last year.

It’s been a stunning rise for Paine, who had all but given up hope of even a regular first-class match this time last year. Paine’s 26th – and last – ODI was against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2011. He averaged just under 30, with a century against England in Nottingham in 2009.

Should the 30-year-old continue to average a similar figure, he will be safe. But there is the intriguing option of Handscomb taking the gloves – as he does for the Melbourne Stars in the BBL. Handscomb has averaged a modest 21.28 in eight ODIs – he is a far better player than that – and, at 26, could be the best long-term option should he spend more time honing one of the game’s toughest crafts.

Selectors also remain keen on Chris Lynn, despite another injury setback, and believe he could emerge as part of the core. The Queenslander is seen as the hard-hitting slugger capable of clearing the pickets on the small English grounds. The issue is whether he can stay healthy, for neck, shoulder, hamstring and calf issues have cruelled his past year.

Finch said there was still time for experimentation in a bid to find the group the selectors are craving.

“You look at guys who are bankers in the side – Smith obviously, Starc, Cummins Hazlewood, Davey Warner – that no doubt will be in the future but I think there is probably a chance to tinker with a few things and try and make sure we get our balance right,” he said.

Aside from selection, game style and tactics must be solidified. The ns crashed out of the rain-marred Champions Trophy – defeat to the host nation due largely to a Ben Stokes century, the final frustration. Then came a 4-1 series defeat in India, leaving Smith’s side at No.3 in the world rankings.

As Smith said, the regular loss of back-to-back wickets has hurt, particularly in the middle overs, but Finch and Warner will maintain their blueprint of attacking in the first 10 overs to kickstart ‘s innings.

The ICC’s Future Tours Program is a fluid – and unclear – beast but have about 28 one-day internationals left before the World Cup. As Hohns said, the sooner “can settle on our best combination and get them playing together and in form on a regular basis then the better our chances will be of retaining the trophy we won at home in 2015”.

One-Day International Series against England

MCG: January 14

Gabba: January 19

SCG: January 21

Adelaide: January 26

Perth: January 28

n ODI squad v England

Who will be part of the 2019 World Cup defence?

Steve Smith (c)

Averaging 43.23 with eight centuries. Will lead the team to England next year.

David Warner (vc)

Arguably the world’s best ODI batsman, averaging 44.94 and a strike rate of 96.58. Will be in England.

Pat Cummins

Has 57 wickets at 29.24 in 36 ODIs and will be part of a three-man pace attack – fitness permitting.

Aaron Finch

Has solidified his spot at the top of the order, averaging 36.56, with eight tons, and should be there next year.

Josh Hazlewood

Has 64 wickets at 23.85 in 38 ODIs and will be one of ‘s key weapons.

Travis Head

Can bat anywhere in the top and middle order and provides handy off-spin. Expected to be in England.

Cameron White

At 34, the former T20 captain has been given the chance to resurrect his ODI career. Strong chance now for England.

Mitchell Marsh

Is averaging 35.48 with the bat and has 41 wickets at 36.17 in 48 ODIs. Selectors hope he will be a middle-order rock.

Tim Paine

At 33, has replaced Matthew Wade behind the stumps in a sign he is seen as the right fit for the next 18 months.

Jhye Richardson

An emerging fast bowler who made his international debut in the T20s v Sri Lanka this year. One to watch.

Mitchell Starc

Will spearhead the attack at the World Cup, with fitness chiefs to keep a close eye on him leading into a World Cup and Ashes in England.

Marcus Stoinis

Made his ODI debut at Leeds in 2015 and is seen as a batting all-rounder who could flourish in England.

Andrew Tye

One of the stars of the BBL, Tye has played seven T20 internationals but yet to make his ODI debut.

Adam Zampa

Doesn’t turn his leggie prodigiously but has variation and has become the team’s frontline spinner. Should make it to England.