Monday, June 27, 2016

June 27th, 2016

Over the last few days, I have been thinking a lot. I tend to think I have a good life despite having Cerebal Palsy.

Sometimes I ask myself why god allowed me to have a disability? The easiest answer comes to me with a "because god knew I would be a perfect fit or god knew I could handle it. " But honestly, what did that really mean?

Growing up, I was always a big sports fan. Watching sports, playing them and of course talking about them. As I got older and cuts begin happening on sports teams, it wasn't always easy. Sometimes I got mad at God for wanting me to have a disability. Other times I would just pray to god and say sorry for getting mad at him and ask him for a best friend to come into my life or to be able to make the cut of a sports team.

This all happened around Grade 4-7. I was still young really and had no real idea what to compare it to. I had a lot of friends, but no one extremely close.

As the older grades approached, it seemed that people were deciding to pick only a few friends to hangout with but more often. I was getting to feel a bit more left out. Wearing Leg Braces to school was getting more uncomfortable by the day. Despite meeting new friends, I still felt like I was being left out of after school hangout groups.

At this point in High school, Grade 9-12, the only thing I was hanging on to was my involvement with the Basketball team. After the season ended, I usually sat alone at lunch as the team bonding part had ended. I was still well liked, but hanging out with friends after school didn't happen as much as other classmates seemed to hangout much more.

Whenever I ask people to hangout, it was usually a "maybe next week". I was always satisfied by that answer and would just look forward to next week. The problem was that "next week" never came. It was always next week.

Then I kept wondering why God would put me in an awkward position. Looking back on it, I think it was all just part of God's plan. I had three really good teachers that loved talking sports with me after class. That was pretty awesome! Despite, not being on the basketball team as a stats keeper in Grade 12, I got plugged into the High School Football team. Since than, I have been on the team and consistently attend as many practices and games as I can. Again, I do believe this was God's plan. He wanted me to experience High School football forever instead of a solid friends group.

To cap it off, I was on the Golf team at my high school. Again, another prayer answered. The lesson in all of this was, God doesn't answer prayers instantly. You have to have patience. 

More importantly, in Grade 12 I was only at my high school half the time. In the other half, I went to an Elementary School for Work Experience and totally loved it. I always felt included. Yes, I think this was totally God's plan to give me something to look forward to in Grade 12. Therefore, I should be so grateful.

Things changed after high school, hung out more but still saw them less. Going to Kamloops for University was an experience to say the least. Made some great friends  and also became a stronger christian. More importantly, a few high school friends drifted apart, in contrast, I got closer to a few friends that graduated high school a year or two after me. In the end, I just know God was looking out for me through all of the bumps in high school. There was still the fair share of amazing memories as well.  

Over the last few years, I got connected with a couple of amazing Christian girls.  At first, they were just friends of friends, but overtime we met a couple of years ago and I also reunited with them a couple of weeks ago. I'm blessed to have all three of them in my life. It sucks being far away from them but I feel their christian love for me a thousand of miles away. Sometimes, I wish I grew up near them so I would have met them sooner, however, I just have trust god he put me in the right place to succeed and brought the right people  into my life. At the end of the day, we need to follow God's will. He is #1.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Euro 2016 Starts Tomorrow

Europe's prestigious soccer tournament begins tomorrow in the French city of Saint-Denis as France welcomes Europe's best teams to France for soccer's biggest party in 2016. 
It's not quite the World Cup, but the anticipation is still quite high and it will stay that way as for the first time ever, 24 teams will be competing for not only the European Cup but also Qualification for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia next June. 
I filled out a UEFA bracket last week, I had Portugal defeating Germany in the Final. As of last week, Portugal was 20-1 odds of winning to Euro Cup. Therefore, it is very tempting to put down $5 and see what happens. 
Germany is the easy bet this time around but not by much. Spain always has a chance to win and the hosts France would surprise no one if they won. In 1998, France captured the World Cup Title two days before France's annual Independence Day.  (Bastille Day July 14th, 1789). It would be a fairytale ending if France came on top this time four days before the Final that goes on July 10th. 
The team that I cheer for is Sweden, in 2006, in the weeks leading up to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, I decided to follow Sweden as I liked that they were a really good team with very little population. Fast forward a decade and their team is just getting by. After almost missing Euro 2016 for the first time since England hosted the Euros in 1996. Sweden isn't expected to fair strongly this time around, Zlatan Ibrahimović will likely not be enough to carry the team to the Quarterfinals as the supporting cast around him is very inexperienced. 
Zlatan Ibrahimović's last go around won't be the only storyline in this months Euro Cup. The tournament has been expanded to 24 teams and that has opened the door for teams like Albania, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia and Wales who will all be making their European Cup debut.

That's not all. France 2016 will be the last Euro Cup for any host teams. After the 2018 World Cup in Russia, UEFA will have a massive overhaul in their completion that will change the Qualifying process for the revamped 2020 Euro. 
My surprise team in the tournament is Wales. Team to watch out on is Croatia and my underachieving team this June is Spain. Enjoy the tournament as it comes and good luck to your ancestors country. In soccer, one goal can flip a tournament upside down. 

All this considered, there is a lot to look for at the Euro Cup. Given the strength of UEFA, in someways it is harder to win the Euro's than the World Cup. The gap between the strong and the powerhouse teams is really strong right now which should make for amazing soccer. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Where do the Memphis Grizzlies Go Next

This could be the beginning of the end for the “grit and grind” era in Memphis. Right now, the Grizzlies are in the midst of a crossroad – fighting an uphill decision of whether or not to commit to an elongated rebuild – one that could spell the end to a handful of franchise favorites.
After giving up on the organization’s most winningest coach per win percentage (58.8) David Joerger, to an expired three-year contract last May. Several eye brows were raised in inquiry of which direction the Grizzlies were heading towards. For better or worse, their streak of six straight playoff appearances remained intact but with an aging roster that soon to be abiding streak suddenly becomes in jeopardy.
Memphis used 28 different players in 2016, which broke the record for any team that made the playoffs. Considering how many injuries the Grizzlies endured last season, the firing of Joerger last month sounds more of a head-scratcher than a comfort, especially after making the playoffs all three seasons.
With David Fizdale at the helm in Memphis, the roster he’ll have to work with next year could seek out a drastic makeover, as the Grizzlies feature five players who will be free agents this summer. Out of all of them, the most notable ones are 28-year old PG Mike Conley and 36-year old SF Matt Barnes.
It wouldn’t make sense if all five were to be resigned, as retaining Conley and the element of P.J. Hairston leaves a reward that’s somewhat minimal with how strong the Western Conference is. Another roster blemish Fizdale will have to deal with is center Marc Gasol. Gasol is on the wrong side of 31 and his receding production admits no way that Memphis will be willing to latch onto his contract after 2017.
For a considerable amount of franchises, making the playoffs is a credible benchmark and is seen as an accomplishment. But for Memphis, who’s appeared in the playoffs every year this decade and have totaled only four series wins, the epitome of “just making it” is overdone. Simply put, the Grizzlies need to get younger. Free agents are already hard to come by and Memphis’ meager $8 million to spend this off-season puts them as a distinct disadvantage compared to most NBA payrolls. Likewise, Memphis’ priorities forces them to build from the draft. And that starts now.
Memphis drafts 17th this year. According to, their latest mock has Memphis selecting 6’7” SG Furkan Korkmaz from Turkey. In their streak of making the playoffs, the annual misstep was never obtaining a “good” shooting guard. Yes, defense wins championships, and for the Grizzlies, team defense alone has carried their ship to shore many times. But in order to branch out and compete with the NBA’s best, you must first shoot like the NBA’s best. Case in point, a sniper from the perimeter can alter how Memphis’ offense is run in 2017, especially when they shot the second worst from 3-point range per percentage in the league, connecting on just 33.1% in the regular season.
Building through the draft won’t happen overnight. But it’s a path Memphis must take in order to prosper. Dark days of rebuild could be in store for the Grizzlies, however this is where championships are won and lost. Fizdale has a chance to change Memphis’ entire culture. One move at a time.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Predicting Everything About the Euro 2016

Group A                          Group B                  Group C                  Group D                 Group E
France 9                          Russia 7                 Germany 9               Croatia 7                 Belgium 9
Romania 4                       Wales 5                    Ukraine 4                 Spain 7                   Italy 4
Switzerland 2                  England 4               Poland 3                    C. Repubplic 1      Sweden 4
Albania 1                           Slovakia 0               N. Ireland 1                Turkey 1               R. Ireland 0

Group F
Portugal 7
Austria 5
Hungary 2
Iceland 1

Round of 16
Romania 0 (5)                           Romania 1
Ukraine o (3)

Croatia 2 (AET)                           Croatia 2                          Croatia 0
Sweden 1
Russia 1                                           Russia 0
Switzerland 0
Portugal 1                                       Portugal 3                      Portugal 1                                  Portugal 2
Italy 0
Germany 3                                     Germany 0 (4)                            Germany 4                Germany   1
England 1
Belgium 2                                        Belgium 0 (2)
Spain 1
France 2                                            France 1                                       France 2
Poland 0
Austria 0
Wales 1                                               Wales 0

Friday, June 3, 2016

Is a CONCACAF - CONMEBOL merger realistic?

The Copa America tournament will be celebrating their 100th Anniversary this Friday in Santa Clara, as Levi’s Stadium is set to host the opening match between USA and Columbia.
While it’s a big celebration, the marquee event can be viewed as a kick in the pants for CONCACAF, who is by far a weaker confederation than CONMEBOL.

CONCACAF is a moderate confederation at best that contains two powerhouse teams in USA and Mexico. The majority of the other teams lack variety for various reasons. CONCACAF’s WCQ format is respectable but easily needs to be revamped. The Continental Cup which is the Gold Cup, is borderline atrocious and at the same time meaningless as it gets dominated by USA and Mexico.
With the expanded 16 team format that Copa America is promoting this June, it surely begs the question whether or not a this format is right in the future.

Optimists have suggested a merger with the two confederations for the past four years. While it’s nothing that will come about overnight, there is something to be said for both confederations gaining an advantage with a potential merge.

Teams like Boliva, Venezuela and Peru struggle in World Cup Qualifying on a consistent basis and the merger would allow them an open shot at getting a good draw. Instead, the current system plots them with tough games against Brazil and Argentina that they have no shot in.
For countries outside North America; like Jamaica, El Salvador and Canada whom field strong teams but don’t have the “it” factor that can elevate middle-class Central America teams to glory with a World Cup appearance.

Currently, neither confederation has qualified for their respected Continental Cups. A merger would include some kind of  qualifying for a tournament that would happen in every leap year. For example,
2016, 2020, 2024.

This would be a better fit for all the teams because it would create more game opportunities for the nations, thus resulting in more exposure.

There’s a lot of hurdles to overcome for the merger to become a reality, but certainly having a merger like tournament this June will surely speed up the process. Keep in mind, FIBA has the two continents merged and everything runs fine. The travel might be an issue, however, at the end of the day the hype that could be created for the merger would be totally worth it. In other words, the competition that would go down would be something that rivals what happens with UEFA. More importantly, the publicity that the CONCACAF teams would get would be what those countries have needed for the last two decades now.