Chinese-speaking tennis umpires bring the house down

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark hits a return during her women’s singles match against Wang Qiang of China at the China Open tennis tournament in Beijing on Oct. 1, 2017. (AFP/Greg Baker)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Chinese-speaking tennis umpires bring the house down

BEIJING: Foreign umpires at the China Open have been unintentionally entertaining the crowds and earning hearty applause with their attempts at pidgin Chinese.
Some of the officials, who come from a range of countries, are using very basic Chinese for the first time at the Beijing tournament to give instructions to the ball boys, ball girls and unruly spectators.
Among the words they have learnt is the equivalent of towel to remind the ball boys and girls when players need a wipe-down and then saying “xiexie” (thank you).
Umpires have also learnt the Chinese word for new balls and are saying “xiexie” to the crowd to urge them to be quiet.
Spectators in the Chinese capital have lapped it up, applauding or cheering each attempt — and having a giggle when the pronunciation is a bit off.
Ashraf Hamouda, chief of umpires at the China Open, said some of the 16 non-Chinese umpires had taken it upon themselves to learn the language for the first time.
“They have books and they try to learn the language, they are interested to know Chinese,” he said, adding it was optional.
“Four or five of them have books and they try to get the right pronunciation from the Chinese.”
Hamouda said those umpires attempting Chinese found it helped them at the tournament and in their leisure time.
“It’s not a must, but saying in Chinese ‘pass the towel, pass the ball or ball change’, they find things happen quicker on the court and communication is easier,” he said.


Usain Bolt’s football dream up in the air in Australia

Updated 18 July 2018
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Usain Bolt’s football dream up in the air in Australia

Football Federation Australia has responded cautiously to reports 
Usain Bolt hopes to play for the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League.
Reports said the 31-year-old Bolt, the eight-time Olympic sprint gold medalist and fastest man ever, had agreed to trial with the Mariners next month and may receive a one-season A-League contract if he impresses.
However, in order to make a deal possible the FFA would have to top up any salary offered to Bolt from its $3 million fund to attract “marquee” players. The Mariners owner reportedly has offered to meet 70 percent of Bolt’s salary but the FFA’s contribution might still be around $900,000.
In a statement, the FFA said: “While Usain Bolt is one of the most famous athletes on the planet, he’s not a professional footballer.
“If the trial goes ahead and Central Coast Mariners decided it stacks up and they want to offer him a contract, then we will have a discussion with them around that and what might be possible.”
Bolt, who quit the track last year, has already trialed unsuccessfully with Germany’s Borussia Dortmund and South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns. Many regard reports he might trial with the Mariners as a public relations stunt. His previous trials were with clubs that shared his major sponsor.
“It is crucial to note that all discussions between the Central Coast Mariners and Bolt require an initial six-week trial period and no contract is guaranteed,” a club statement said.
Bolt’s agent, Ricky Sims, confirmed that the Jamaican athlete is 
considering the Mariners’ offer of 
a trial.
“Usain has made it quite clear that he’s interested in playing professional football,” Simms said.
“We’re looking at a number of options and this is one of them.”
Australian player agent Tony 
Rallis, who first revealed Bolt’s interest in playing in the A-League, said Bolt was genuine in his desire to play for the Mariners.
“If he meets the benchmarks set by the coaches, he’ll be given a contract,” Rallis said.
“He’ll be treated like another one of the players and he doesn’t want to be treated like a different player.
“He’s got a point to prove and he’s determined to prove he’s worth a contract.”