e-book Football Voodoo : Magic, superstition and religion in the beautiful game

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It works over distance. They were. Was the power of suggestion, or placebo, at play? Healers and their adherents dispute this, pointing out that cures are often performed on animals and babies, who do not have the capacity for faith although several scientific studies have indicated that both babies can animals can be affected, in complex ways, by suggestion from adults.

Identity and Nation in African Football | SpringerLink

Warts will almost always disappear within months or years without any treatment, but people claim the healers speed the process up. Francis refers to a cure for bleeding which he performed for a young man in Scotland, who fell into a coma after a fall on ice. From his home in Ireland, he recited the secret prayer, which refers to the River Jordan. Four hours later, by coincidence or otherwise, the man awoke. But is it possible that the belief of others may affect us in subconscious ways, ways which have nothing to do with magic? And does it even matter whether or not magic is at play, if the cures work for people?

Scepticism is healthy and normal, says Linda. A week or month later, you might get a phone call to say the wart or verrucas have gone.

Australia, Ireland and a NASCAR track: Ranking 2016's college football neutral sites by oddity

She disappears from the room and returns with a leather-bound, shiny black volume. She approaches, looks and my hands, and asks me to write my full name, including my second name and confirmation name, in her book. Now what? In just under a week, the wart has shrunk slightly, but it has not gone away.

Examples of superstition and deceit by some priests

She has researched and taught about the cultural significance of folk medicine for over 20 years. Almost every year, her young students tell her about cures. She is not a scientist, focusing instead on the symbolism of cures. She points out that many are passed on to people who may have been somewhat disadvantaged: a child born after his or her father died, a poorer person, or the seventh son or daughter who would have been far down the successidon line. There are many cases of cures not working, she says.

Far from a dying vestige practiced by backward cranks, cures are modern, rooted in everyday life, and concerned with the here and now. Niamh Fenton, 31, from Waterford, collapsed at work with shingles, a viral infection related to chickenpox. The condition can be treated, but the only cure is time. She was brought to a healer.

In my youth in England, football was not considered an appropriate pastime for a good Jewish boy.

It still freaks me out. Keith Moran, a married father-of-two who is originally from Monaghan but now lives in Leopardstown, CoDublin, tells a similar story. The doctor handed him a bottle of camomile lotion for his shingles and instructed him to wait it out.


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Full of pain and deep cynicism, Keith was brought by his father to the home of an elderly woman in Emyvale who was reputed to have the cure. It was metal, and it burned like a hot knife. She said it would be gone within three days. On the fourth, it was gone. Colm, also from Monaghan, has an embarrassing story. He was just 10 when his older brother sprayed farting gas in his mouth. His throat numbed.

She said some kind of prayer, and rubbed my neck, and I felt better instantly. Cures appear to be particularly current in north Leinster, Ulster, and parts of Connaught.

Trim, Co Meath is an unexpected stronghold. Online forums, such as boards. Travellers have a particularly strong belief in cures. Belief is notoriously difficult to quantify. Some of us may claim to be sceptical, but we may be more susceptible to belief than we are consciously aware of.


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  • Others might think it is all nonsense but desperately want the cure to work, perhaps out of nothing more than sheer interest and the natural, hopeful, human tendency to think that real magic would be nice. One misconception should be cleared: almost nobody who visits folk healers is credulous. Visitors are perfectly capable of forming critical and usually wary opinions, based on their own observations and experiences.

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    Magical mystery cures

    Science has a right and duty to interrogate these cures, but condescension will not provide any answers. Diversity, inclusion, and flexibility in the workplace have helped Jason Sullivan succeed at Pfizer. Gifted organiser did much work that helped pave way for Good Friday Agreement.

    We use cookies to personalise content, target and report on ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. For more information see our Cookie Policy. I am actually pretty good at not commentating on what they are doing and still able to see the game as a tool for pure enjoyment and a chance to get some exercise with good friends, which is essentially what it is. But it also has a wonderful way of emotionally connecting with people, which means it can have an impact beyond just the winning and losing of a game.


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    • It can bring people together, like it did when the Ivory Coast ended its civil war after the national team qualified for the World Cup for the first time. It can be a lovely way for families to spend time together, cheering for the same cause. And footballers themselves have a unique connection with the communities in which they play and a lot of them make huge charitable contributions — by giving their time and support — to people, often children, who are less fortunate than themselves and need some help.

      So football is a game, but it can also be used as a force for good. Can you really explain the whole world through the prism of football? What about Brexit? Alex: Of course we can! We could write a whole book on football and Brexit! For example, we could write about immigration, such as foreign players in our leagues, and our players abroad, and how this will change with Brexit. We could talk about the history of the Champions League. We could write about footballers who became politicians. Once you start looking, you will find many links.

      Ben has two daughters who love to play football and he loves hearing them talk about their favourite players and goals to their friends. At all the school talks we do, the girls are just as knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the game as the boys; at our first event, when we invited a few children up to invent their own goal celebrations we were blown away when one of the girls did six back-flips across the stage! That was impressive! Since then, we have done lots of school talks — many at all-girls schools — and found the same enthusiasm for the sport, even if we have yet to meet such another talented gymnast!

      Football School Star Players includes many stories of inspiring women players, such as Nadia Nadim, who escaped from a brutal regime growing up in Afghanistan to play for Denmark and Manchester City, and Brandi Chastain, the US player whose dramatic penalty won the World Cup final.

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      She has promised to donate her brain to scientific research after her death. And you can buy Football School Star Players here. Would you like to be a sportswriter like Alex and Ben? The Guardian and Football School have teamed up to launch a competition all about sports writing. To enter, you need to write a word match report on any sporting event, or a word profile about a sports person.

      You need to be aged between yrs, and enter before 19 th May. I sometimes look at the lives of the children around me and marvel how they fit so much into each week. As well as copious hours on Insta of course and reading! And with this busyness comes pressure. Dan Freedman author of the Jamie Johnson football novels has tapped into this busyness, and also into the zeitgeist, by writing a pertinent YA novel for our times about pressure on teens, and linked to this, about the causes and motivations behind the rise in knife crime.

      Combining his knowledge of sports, and real-time information gathered from conversations with children during his school visits, Freedman has penned a gripping novel about how life for these children can seem unstoppable, how pressures build up and can lead to the difficult choices that may set them on the right or wrong path in life.

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      Covering a range of hugely contemporary issues, from alcoholism, first love, knife crime, gang warfare, poverty, parental and school pressure and the meaning of sports, Freedman keeps his novel fresh and spikey. Fourteen-year-old twins, Roxy and Kaine, used to be close. But recently, their pathways have diverged — both are excellent sports players, Roxy training to be a tennis champion, Kaine good enough at football to be scouted for the Premier League.

      The writing is particularly astute on the sports field, and it is here that Freedman excels, making the reader believe that they are learning about two future sports stars. Written in third person, but alternating between the points of view of Roxy and Kaine, this is a close up view of the pressure both children are under, but in different ways. Supplementing the main prose are diary entries, flashbacks, old-fashioned notes! Their own determination and grit to succeed, their interior struggle with mental wellbeing, but also the sphere of their family and its wellbeing, and finally the exterior of peers and the dangers of the community in which they live.

      For a rattling good read, and a dissection of how we live today, even unbookish sporty readers will be tuning in.