Jaiyah Saelua would be happy enough if the world saw her only as a footballer – but she accepts that she may have a bigger role to play.
As a centre-half for American Samoa’s men’s team, the 25-year-old tasted glory of sorts when her nation secured the south-sea island’s first ever victory – over Tonga in 2011.
The win marked a remarkable turnaround for the side who held the record for the heaviest-ever defeat – 31-0 against Australia in 2001. But more importantly she can lay claim to be the world’s first ever transgender international footballer – and a star of the excellent new film Next Goal Wins, to be released on Friday 9 May.
Saelua was born a man – named Johnny – but identifies herself as ‘third gender’, the Fa’afafine, a Samoan term that denotes a person of the male gender with feminine qualities.
She said: “Football is such a beautiful sport and should be open to everyone. We love the sport so much that we leave discrimination off the pitch. “People would say things to me to put me off my game but it only made me tougher. I am not a man or a woman – I am a soccer player.”
I watched the film: 'Next Goal Wins' about the development of the American Samoa national football team from the record 31-0 defeat to Australia in 2001 to their 1st competitive win against Tonga in 2011. If you haven't seen it - I recommend that you do.
This could be an interesting way into discussing gender roles, homophobia, prejudice and discrimination.
The story of America Samoan goalkeeper Nicky Salapu, who is infamous as the goalie who shipped 31 goals - 'The Toughest Job in Football - Goalkeeper for the Worst Team in the World'.
His perseverance and even coming out of retirement, to play when his team won their 1st game, 10 years after 'that defeat' made him a national hero.
How many of us wouldn't have just walked away and quit?
Naming Uruguay the country of the year in 2013, the Economist may very well have described the rising nation's head of state, President José "Pepe" Mujica.
Known for his unusual frankness, fiery oration and bold leadership to turn ideas into action, the 78-year-old leader possesses and practices the very characteristics that many world leaders fail to emulate. He has also garnered international acclaim for his progressive policies, down-to-earth personality and simple presentation, which has earned him a reputation as "the world's poorest president."
Living in a small, one-bedroom farm with his wife, Sen. Lucia Toplansky and a number of dogs (including three-legged Manuela), Mujica donates 90% of his salary to charity, leads by example in an age of austerity and has gained international acclaim for pushing ahead with policies on cannabis legalisation, same-sex marriage and abortion, while decrying excessive consumption.
Mujica practices the simplicity he preaches.
Here are some of our favourite quotes by the one-of-a-kind president with a powerful message:
1. On Revolutions and Revolts
"I've seen some springs that ended up being terrible winters. We human beings are gregarious. We can't live alone. For our lives to be possible, we depend on society. It's one thing to overturn a government or block the streets. But it's a different matter altogether to create and build a better society, one that needs organization, discipline and long-term work. Let's not confuse the two of them. I want to make it clear: I feel sympathetic with that youthful energy, but I think it's not going anywhere if it doesn't become more mature."
2. On Legalizing Marijuana
When asked about opposition to legalizing marijuana, he said:
"It has always been like that with changes. In 1913, we established divorce as a right for women in Uruguay. You know what they were saying back then? That families would dissolve. That it was the end of good manners and society. There has always been a conservative and traditional opinion out there that's afraid of change. When I was young and would go dancing at balls, we'd have to wear suits and ties. Otherwise they wouldn't let us in. I don't think anyone dresses up for dancing parties nowadays."
3. On Materialism
"We have sacrificed the old immaterial gods, and now we are occupying the temple of the Market-God. He organizes our economy, our politics, our habits, our lives, and even provides us with rates and credit cards and gives us the appearance of happiness.
"It seems that we have been born only to consume and to consume, and when we can no longer consume, we have a feeling of frustration, and we suffer from poverty, and we are auto-marginalized."
4. On Global Consumption
"We can almost recycle everything now. If we lived within our means, by being prudent, the 7 billion people in the world could have everything they needed. Global politics should be moving in that direction. But we think as people and countries, not as a species."
5. On Abortion and Same-sex Marriage
In an interview with Brazilian news agency O Globo, Mujica said:
"We applied a very simple principle: Recognize the facts. Abortion is old as the world. Gay marriage, please — it's older than the world. We had Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, please. To say it's modern, come on, it's older than we are. It's an objective reality that it exists. For us, not legalizing it would be to torture people needlessly."
6. On Ending Conflict
When asked about Uruguay offering its services to try and end the 50-year-old conflict in Colombia between the government and the ELN rebel group:
"From afar, it seems like a war without a solution and like a long sacrifice for the entire country. So when a president appears who tries to open a path to peace, I think that deserves support, because there is a lot of pain, and if they try to settle scores, the war will never end. But there is an opportunity. I would feel selfish if I did not help in any way.
"Help does not mean to intervene. I will not meddle if I am not invited to do so. But if I can serve as a go-between with my experience, I will support the government's call for dialogue with the rebel forces who also have their problems, who also have their fears. I think all us Latin Americans have to help."
7. On Staying Humble in Office
"As soon as politicians start climbing up the ladder, they suddenly become kings. I don't know how it works, but what I do know is that republics came to the world to make sure that no one is more than anyone else." The pomp of office, he said, is like something left over from a feudal past: "You need a palace, red carpet, a lot of people behind you saying, 'Yes, sir.' I think all of that is awful."
8. On Redistribution of Wealth
"Businesses just want to increase their profits; it's up to the government to make sure they distribute enough of those profits so workers have the money to buy the goods they produce," Mujica told businessmen at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "It's no mystery — the less poverty, the more commerce. The most important investment we can make is in human resources."
9. On Age
"What's sad is that an 80-year-old grandpa has to be the open-minded one. Old people aren't old because of their age, but because of what's in their heads. They are horrified at this, but they aren't horrified at what's happening in the streets?"
10. On Addiction
"Worse that drugs is drug trafficking. Much worse. Drugs are a disease, and I don't think that there are good drugs or that marijuana is good. Nor cigarettes. No addiction is good. I include alcohol. The only good addiction is love. Forget everything else."
11. On being called the World's Poorest President
"I'm not the poorest president. The poorest is the one who needs a lot to live. My lifestyle is a consequence of my wounds. I'm the son of my history. There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress."
12. On Donating 90% of his salary to Charity
"I have a way of life that I don't change just because I am a president. I earn more than I need, even if it's not enough for others. For me, it is no sacrifice, it's a duty."
13. On his goals for Uruguay
"My goal is to achieve a little less injustice in Uruguay, to help the most vulnerable and to leave behind a political way of thinking, a way of looking at the future that will be passed on and used to move forward. There's nothing short-term, no victory around the corner. I will not achieve paradise or anything like that. What I want is to fight for the common good to progress. Life slips by. The way to prolong it is for others to continue your work."
14. On being a President
"A president is a high-level official who is elected to carry out a function. He is not a king, not a god. He is not the witch doctor of a tribe who knows everything. He is a civil servant. I think the ideal way of living is to live like the vast majority of people whom we attempt to serve and represent."
15. On the Secret to Happiness
"To live in accordance with how one thinks. Be yourself and don't try to impose your criteria on the rest. I don't expect others to live like me. I want to respect people's freedom, but I defend my freedom. And that comes with the courage to say what you think, even if sometimes others don't share those views."
Five Women - The Last Living People Born In The 1800s
The secret to longevity has been sought for centuries. What exercises, beverages, foods, and characteristics grant the key to a long life? These five women have a number of secrets worth sharing, after all they are thelast living people born in the 1800’s.
These incredible women have seen it all, two World Wars, the Cold War, the first flying airplane, television set, and the Internet. A conversation with any one of them proves delightful, interesting and highly informative.
Women tend to live longer than men. It’s unknown exactly why but theories hint at a couple of different factors, such as estrogen helps protect the heart until after menopause. So while these women do have the upper hand when it comes to living a long life, they clearly have some other tricks up their sleeve.
These 5 charming women live in different parts of the world, but they all seem to agree on the same tricks to a long life: sleep, activity, exercise, and eating good food.
World’s Oldest Living Person Misao Okawa 116 years old, Born On March 5, 1898
The Japanese are known for living long lives, but Misao Okawa is the oldest living Japanese person ever.
Okawa was married, but has been a widow for the last 83 years, as her husband died in 1931.
Her secrets to living a long life: good genes, good sleep, exercise, and sushi. “Eat and sleep and you will live a long time.” Misao told The Daily Telegraph.
Susannah Mushatt Jones 115 years old, Born On July 6, 1899
Susannah Mushatt Jones, known as Miss Susie, was born in Alabama to sharecroppers; she was the third oldest of 11 siblings. In 1923, she moved to New York City, where she still lives today.
Susannah presented “Negro Music in France” at her high school graduation, and was awarded a seat at the prestigious Tuskegee Institute. Since her parents could not afford college, she moved to New York instead.
Her family says she is a kind woman who has helped many of her family members afford college. Jones' niece says, “She wants everyone to go to college.”
America’s Oldest Person Gertrude Weaver 116 years old, Born On July 4, 1898
Yet another lady on this list born to sharecroppers, Gertrude was married in 1915 and had four children.
Only one of her four children is still alive, he is now in his nineties.
Weaver’s favorite activities include Bible study, manicures, and “wheelchair dancing.” Weaver told Time, “We chair dance because we can’t get up anymore.”
Europe’s Oldest Living Person Emma Morano 115 years old, Born On November 29, 1899
Emma is the only woman on this list that still lives completely on her own without any assistance.
She was the first born out of 8 siblings and remains the only one still alive today. She worked in a jute factory until 1954, at which time she switched occupations and worked in a boarding school kitchen until 75 when she retired.
Morano says her eating habits have helped her live so long, she eats one raw egg and one cooked egg each day, just as the doctor recommended back when she was 20-years-old.
Jeralean Talley 115 years old, Born On May 23, 1899
Jeralean Talley was born into a difficult life picking cotton and peanuts. In 1935, she moved to Inkster for better economic opportunities. Here she married Alfred Talley, and the two of them had one child. Alfred passed away in 1988 at the ripe old age of 95.
Even without her other half, Jeralean still lives a fun life with her large family.
She now lives with her daughter and takes annual fishing trips, and even hits up local casinos. Until she was 105 she remained an active bowler and always mowed her own lawn. That being said, perhaps it’s no surprise that she cites an active lifestyle as the key to longevity.
All information is correct at time of posted, to the best of my knowledge. Mike
Lazio defender Abdoulay Konko says he rejected international call-ups from Senegal and Morocco to avoid tension within his family.
Konko was born in France to a Senegalese father and a Moroccan mother, making him eligible to play for the three countries at international level. The 31-year-old has been called up by Morocco and Senegal in the past, but refused to honour either invitation citing family concerns.
“It's a tough decision because you don't want to create tension in the family so I decided to stay neutral” "I've been called by Morocco and Senegal but I respectfully turned them down because I wouldn't want to hurt either of my parents by choosing one over the other," Konko said.
"To some it sounds like a lazy excuse, but I love my parents and I prefer to spare them the agony of backlash from disappointed fans.
"If I had chosen Senegal, fans from Morocco will definitely criticise my decision, same for disappointed Senegalese, so it's a no-win situation," Konko explained.
Konko who has played in Italy for Juventus, Siena and Genoa admits his decision may have denied him an international career. With the international window winding down for him and a loud silence from the snubbed African duo, Konko insists he has no regrets whatsoever.
"You live and die by your decisions as a man, so there is no regret on my part," Konko added. "Interestingly, I read in the past that I was actually waiting for a France call-up, but that's absolutely untrue. "That option never came up and was never discussed, so it was just mere speculation."
Marseille-born Konko started his career at French amateur side Martigues before moving to Turin in 2002.
The versatile defender, who has endured an injury-ravaged career, played on loan at Crotone between 2004-2006 before spells at Siena, Genoa and Spanish side Sevilla. He joined Lazio on a five-year deal in the summer of 2011 and won the Italian Cup with the Rome side in 2013.
Could you give up something you really want for your family?
There are some pretty amazing people in this world, but it's very clear to us that Naoto Matsumura is up there with the best.
After the devastating earthquake that hit in Japan in March 2011 caused the Fukushima nuclear power plant to go into meltdown, the affected area was a no-go zone for millions of people... Except Naoto.
As people he knew fled the area as quickly as they could, Naoto stayed to live with the animals that had been left behind. He now resides in the small town of Tomioka, seven miles from the power plant.
When the earthquake first struck he did actually leave the area as everyone was forced to evacuate, but returned shortly after and began feeding the dogs. He has since been nicknamed Macchan, meaning friend or buddy, and now looks after dogs, cats, cows, horses and ostriches.
Speaking to Vice in 2011, Naoto said that when he returned to Tomioka all the dogs were still tied up, as people believed they'd be able to return to their home town. Sadly, we now know that isn't the case.
"I fed all the cats and dogs every day. They couldn’t stand the wait, so they’d all gather around barking up a storm as soon as they heard my truck. Everywhere I went there was always barking. Like, 'we’re thirsty' or, 'we don’t have any food.' So I just kept making the rounds." Naoto Matsumura
Four years after the disaster, Naoto continues to feed the animals within the exclusion zone thanks to donations from those outside it. He's even helping to raise the young of the animals that have given birth since the radiation leak. What a legend!
When Milkha Singh took to the track at the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff most people had never heard of him. But he was to make history there and is now hailed as one of India's greatest athletes.
It was the night before the 440 yards final at the British Empire and Commonwealth games in Cardiff and Milkha Singh was having trouble sleeping.
"When a person makes it to the final he is under so much stress that he is unable to sleep," recalls Singh. "It was a very difficult night."
Singh had won two gold medals at the Asian Games in Tokyo just a month before, but the Commonwealth Games were different.
"No-one had heard of Milkha Singh at the Commonwealth Games," he says. "There were competitors from Australia, England and Canada, from Uganda, Kenya and Jamaica - the athletes who took part were world class."
He also had the hopes of the Commonwealth's most populous nation weighing heavy on his shoulders. India had never won a gold medal in the history of the games.
Singh grew up in a small village in what, during his childhood, was still British India. He would walk 10km barefoot to school every day, crossing burning sands, and wading through two canals, his books balanced on his head.
He was a teenager in 1947, when partition created the two sovereign nations of India and Pakistan. Punjab, where Singh lived, was divided between the two countries and some found themselves on the wrong side of this new border. Many Sikhs and Hindus faced persecution in Pakistan as did many Muslims in India. About half a million people were killed and millions more displaced. As Sikhs in Pakistan, Singh's family did not escape the violence.
Terrible images of dogs and vultures scavenging on mutilated bodies still haunt Singh's memories of that time. He remembers people were so fearful that they killed their young daughters rather than risk them being kidnapped.
"My village was surrounded," he recalls. "We were told to convert to Islam or prepare to die." When their village was attacked - by outsiders, he emphasizes, not by Muslim neighbours - Singh witnessed the murder of his parents and some of his brothers and sisters. He escaped to the jungle with a group of other boys, then managed to get on a train bound for Delhi.
The trains were being searched by vigilante groups, but the boys hid under the seats in the ladies' carriage and begged the women not to turn them in. They didn't and the boys survived.
After several difficult years living in Delhi, Singh joined the Indian Army - and it was here that his athletic prowess emerged. His instructor in the army taught him how to run properly and after coming sixth in a cross-country race against 400 other soldiers, he was selected for further training.
"All of this started when I was with the army," he says. "I give credit to them for making me a world famous name."
In 1958, on the day of the big race in Cardiff, the athletes were taking their place on the starting line. Singh knew that the man to beat was South Africa's Malcolm Spence.
"My coach convinced me - drilled it into my head - that I could win the race regardless of whether Spence was a world class, world record holder. He was nothing before me if I ran my race as planned."
The stadium was full but Singh remembers there were just two or three Indians among the spectators - one of those watching was Vijay Lakshmi, the sister of the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
"I said my prayers, I touched my forehead to the ground and said to God, 'I am going to try my best but India's honour is in your hands,'" Singh says.
The runners took their marks and the race began. Just as his coach instructed, Singh ran the first 350 yards of the race as fast as he could - he delved deep into his reserves and took the lead but Spence followed close behind him.
"While I was running, I stole a glance sideways and saw Spence just behind my shoulder. He almost reached me but couldn't edge past. I won the race by a margin of just half-a-foot."
The stadium erupted as Singh crossed the finish line. "Everyone was shocked at how this boy from rural India, who used to run barefoot and who had never received any training, had won gold in the Commonwealth Games," he says.
Singh had tears in his eyes as he took his place on the medal podium. India's tricolour was hoisted up the flag pole and the anthem rang out around the stadium. "I was crying with joy and thinking to myself, 'Milkha Singh, today you have truly done India proud.'"
After the race, Nehru's sister came to congratulate him and said that her brother, the Prime Minister, wanted to know what he would like as a reward.
"Back in those days we were too simple to know what to ask for and how. I could have asked for 200 acres in Punjab or two to three bungalows in Delhi. But in those times I was very embarrassed to ask for anything. All I asked was that the Prime Minister declare a day's holiday in India - and he did."
Singh returned home to a hero's welcome. Military bands greeted the entire Indian team at the airport and they were invited to meet Prime Minister Nehru. "Our reception was overwhelming. The Indian team was given a lot of respect everywhere," he says.
Singh continued to run for his country - he came fourth in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, just beaten to the bronze medal by Spence, his main rival from Cardiff.
That same year, he was invited to take part in the 200m event at an International Athletic competition in Lahore, Pakistan. He hadn't been back to Pakistan since fleeing in 1947 and initially refused to go.
"How can a boy, who has seen his parents murdered before his eyes one night, their throats slashed in front of him, his brothers and sisters hacked to death, ever forget those images?" he says.
But hearing that Singh wasn't going to go to Pakistan, Nehru asked to see him and convinced him to change his mind. "He said to me, 'They are our neighbours. We have to maintain our friendship and love with them. Sport fosters these things, therefore you should go.'"
Singh did go to Pakistan and recalls that when he crossed the border he saw children lining the road holding the flags of India and Pakistan - the welcome was "overwhelming".
His main rival in the event was Pakistan's Abdul Khaliq. Newspapers and banners along the street in Lahore were describing it not only as a clash between these two athletes but as "a clash between Pakistan and India".
Despite the huge support for Khaliq in the stadium, Singh went on to win that race while Khaliq took the bronze medal. As Gen Ayub Khan, Pakistan's second president, awarded the competitors their medals, Singh received the nickname that would stick with him for the rest of his life.
"Gen Ayub said to me, 'Milkha, you came to Pakistan and did not run. You actually flew in Pakistan. Pakistan bestows upon you the title of the Flying Sikh.' If Milkha Singh is known as the Flying Sikh in the whole world today, the credit goes to General Ayub and to Pakistan," Singh says.
Now, nearly 55 years on, with more than 77 international race wins to his name and a successful Bollywood film made of his life story, the Flying Sikh still has one outstanding ambition. He wants to live to see an Indian win Olympic gold in a track and field event, adding to the country's current haul of gold medals in hockey and shooting.
"My greatest desire before I die is to see an Indian win the gold medal that I lost in the Olympics," he says.
"My last wish before leaving this world is to see an Indian athlete, male or female, shine and give me the opportunity to see India's tricolour hoisted in the Olympic arena and hear the national anthem played there. This is my last wish."
What can we learn from Milkha Singh?
Can you imagine what it would be like to grow up living in such fear?
What is your proudest achievement?
What is your wish?
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