Who Liverpool could face in the Champions League qualifying round

Liverpool now know the potential opponents which will await them in their Champions League play-off in August.

AEK Athens booked their place in the fourth qualifying round on Wednesday night, beating Panionios 2-1 to top the Greek Super League play-ff ahead of PAOK Salonika, who lost 3-2 at home to Panathinaikos.

AEK are the 10th team confirmed for the fourth qualifying round, joining the likes of Ajax, Dynamo Kiev, Nice and CSKA Moscow at that stage.

Possible opponents for Liverpool

Liverpool, we already know, WILL be seeded for the play-off round, along with Napoli and Sevilla.

Their opponents will either be one of the five unseeded teams who come through the preceding round, or one of the two unseeded teams already qualified for the play-off round.

So who could they face?

Viktora Plzen (Czech Republic) – finished second, 10 points behind winners Slavia Prague.

CSKA Moscow (Russia) – finished second, seven points behind Spartak Moscow and one point ahead of Zenit.

Club Brugge (Belgium) – finished second, two points behind Anderlecht.

Sporting Lisbon (Portugal) – finished third, behind champions Benfica and second place Porto.

Steaua Bucharest (Romania) – finished second behind Viitorul.

Young Boys (Switzerland) – second to regular pests FC Basel by a whopping 17 points.

Nice (France) – third behind champions Monaco and second-placed PSG.

Hoffenheim (Germany) – fourth, two points behind third-placed Dortmund and 20 behind champions Bayern Munich.

Istanbul BB (Turkey) – second behind champions Besiktas and well ahead of Fenerbahce and Galatasaray.

AEK Athens (Greece) – secured their place by topping a four-team mini-league this week.

As an aside, if Ajax or Kiev failed to get through their play-off round, then Plzen and then CSKA Moscow would move up and become seeds, meaning Liverpool could not draw them after all.

The draw will be made by UEFA on Friday August 4 with the games to be played on either August 16 or August 17, with the return leg a week later on August 23 or August 24.

Revealed: The most popular Liverpool FC player names on fans’ kits

Liverpool’s official website has revealed the 11 most popular names that fans get on their kits when buying from the club store.

To celebrate Liverpool’s 125th anniversary, New Balance designed a beautiful new home kit for the 2017/18 season. The strip has echoes of years gone by with the white collar and retro design reminding fans of the glory days.

The kit was debuted on the final day of the season as Liverpool romped to a 3-0 victory over Middlesbrough. The Reds secured Champions League football in style with the new kit receiving widespread appreciation.

According to Liverpoolfc.com, the kit release has been a massive success. The top 10 names on the back of the new Liverpool kit are as follows:

  1. Philippe Coutinho
  2. Sadio Mané
  3. Roberto Firmino
  4. Adam Lallana
  5. Georginio Wijnaldum
  6. Jordan Henderson
  7. Emre Can
  8. James Milner
  9. Simon Mignolet
  10. Lucas Leiva and Daniel Sturridge

Out now: Get LFC’s brand new home kit and training range

Liverpool FC’s brand new home kit for 2017-18 has been released and is now available to purchase in club stores and online.

The New Balance strip celebrates the club’s 125th anniversary year with its retro style, returning to a rich, darker red with tonal pin stripes, a white v-neck collar and the commemorative Liver bird crest.

Supporters can get their hands on the shirt, shorts and socks for next season right now, either by visiting any club store or clicking here to buy online.

Phase one of the club’s new training kit range for 2017-18 – featuring shirts, polos, jackets, performance wear and more – has also been released after its reveal earlier this month.

Browse the New Balance collection by clicking here.

Every school should have a therapist

Lord Layard also wants government to assess how much value schools add to pupils’ happiness.
Every school should have an on-site therapist, according to one of the country’s leading economists and wellbeing experts.
Lord Layard, director of the wellbeing programme at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance, has also called for all schools to employ a senior teacher in charge of mental health.

He wants child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) to provide therapeutic services in schools. “Extra money for child mental health should be devoted to building a school-based wing of Camhs,” he said.

Lord Layard said this should include trained therapists in schools. “I would use the word ‘therapist’, rather than ‘counsellor’,” he said.

He suggested that the government should assess how much value schools add to pupils’ happiness. “If the only thing measured is exams, we will never get anything else given equal importance to that,” he told a conference on wellbeing and mental health in education, organised by the International Positive Education Network.

“Happiness and wellbeing should be something that the school uses, to see how well it’s doing. How well does a school do in changing the happiness of its children?

“Eventually…every school will have a senior teacher in charge of mental health.”

Speaking at the same conference on Friday, Mario Piacentini, of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), spoke about the organisation’s new ranking of developed countries by pupils’ levels of happiness.

“The number-one driver of dissatisfaction is anxiety,” Dr Piacentini said. “More than one in two students in the OECD worries excessively about the difficulty of exams. They get very tense, even if they perceive they’re well-prepared for the exam.”

But, he added, teachers are able to allay this anxiety to some degree.

“Whenever students feel support from their teachers – if the teacher adapts the lesson for the class’s skills and knowledge – there is a reduction in anxiety.

“But, if there are problems of communication with teachers, the level of anxiety jumps up.”

75 Percent of Christians in Iraq Have Fled in the Past 14 Years

During roughly the last decade and a half nearly 75 percent of the Iraqi Christian population fled the country.

The site Faithwire reports that since 2003, the Christian population in Iraq has dropped dramatically.

An Iraqi Christian lawmaker, Josef Sleve, told Anadolu Agency (a news service) that about 2 million Christians lived in Iraq in 2003. He said:

The number of Christians living in the country now stands at between 500,000 and 850,000.

This means that over the past 14 years, some 1.5 million Christians have emigrated to other countries.

Experts say that the Christian departure has sped up since the rise of ISIS.

Volunteers gave 7% less of their time to help their communities in the UK

Volunteers gave 7% less of their time to help their communities, at a loss to the UK of more than £1 billion, between 2012 and 2015, the latest figures from the ONS show.

In fact, there has been a general decline in the time that the UK’s unsung heroes and heroines spend volunteering since 2005, according to ONS analysis.

Despite the value of the voluntary sector to the UK, there has been a 15.4% decline in the total number of frequent hours1 volunteered, between 2005 and 2015 – a drop from 2.28 billion hours to 1.93 billion, figures from the Community Life Survey (CLS) show.

Latest figures from 2014 show volunteering represented 2% of the total value of unpaid work, and was worth £23 billion.2

Total frequent hours of formal volunteering, billion hours, 2005 to 2014

Overall, there was a decline in the amount of time put into volunteering. Between 2000 and 2015 it dropped from an average (mean) of 14.5 minutes per volunteer, per day to 13.7 minutes.

This equates to a drop from a weekly average of one hour and 42 minutes to one hour and 36 minutes per volunteer.

Young people and volunteering

The statistics suggest that those in the youngest age group of 16 to 24 have increased the time they devote to volunteering while those in the 25 to 34 age category have decreased their volunteering time.

In 2015 average time and participation in volunteering was higher for those aged between 16 and 24 (17 minutes per day and 51% participation) and was a noticeable rise as compared to those in the same age group in 2000 (nine minutes per day and 40 % participation).

It could be that, as younger people try and secure employment, they undertake voluntary work in order to enhance their CVs, but as they embed themselves in their careers, at an older age, their focus turns to building their careers.

Also, younger people have more free time, with participation rates for students rising the most – by 12 percentage points between 2000 and 2015 – from 46% to 58%.

 

Parents warned over big bow headbands

A mum is warning parents of the dangers of big bow headbands after her young baby suffocated.

The 14-week-old baby is reported to have died after the bow slipped over her nose while she lay in her carry cot.

Leanne Willson posted about the incident on Facebook and said she was sharing the warning on behalf of her friend.  In her post, which has now been shared more than 80,000 times, she says:

“All new mums please be aware.  Putting this warning out for all mums who have wee babies and use the big bow headbands on them.

“My friend has sadly just lost her 14 week old daughter whilst she thought she was sleeping in her carry cot after a long walk.  When she came to check on her she had the bow headband down over her wee nose and mouth and wasn’t moving.. she had passed away.

“Post mortem revealed death due to suffocation asphyxiation. She wanted me to share for other new mums the danger some of these baby fashion accessories can have.”

Leanne, from Glasgow, said her friend was ‘utterly devastated’ by the tragedy which happened after she left her baby Holly sleeping for ‘only 30 minutes whilst she showered and changed and forgot to remove her headband’.

Almost 8,000 people have commented on Leanne’s post.

Anna Johnson said: “Thank you for sharing and making other mums aware. These should be banned along with silly beaded dummy clips. As cute as they are, heath hazard. All thoughts and prayers are sent for Holly and her mum. RIP Angel xxxx”

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s public health adviser, warned parents to be cautious:

“Children can easily swallow, inhale or choke on items left in their reach as they naturally grasp anything and put it in their mouths. Once in their mouth they find it difficult to remove the item.

“Parents can prevent the risk of choking and suffocation by ensuring that small objects or items are kept out of reach of children under the age of three.”

For more advice visit RoSPA’s website.

The baby’s death follows recent controversy over the large JoJo bows which have become a craze among young girls.  The huge, brightly-coloured hair clips have become a must-have fashion accessory thanks to JoJo Siwa, a 13-year-old YouTube star and dancer in the US reality show Dance Moms.

125 years ago today, Liverpool FC was formed

On March 15, 1892, John Houlding famously broke from the board of Everton to form a new club – Liverpool.

Club historian and museum curator Stephen Done explains:

“It’s perhaps not widely known that Liverpool FC’s founding father and first president, John Houlding, was originally president of Everton but, after a huge fall out over a number of issues including rent, he was removed from his position.

“This left Houlding and his colleagues with a fine football ground but no team and no name! The evening of March 15 at Houlding’s home, Stanley House, a new club was proposed and given the name Liverpool Football Club.

“And so began the plans to recruit new players and to formally enter the Football League. By June 3, Liverpool Football Club was official.”

The club will mark its official 125th birthday on June 3, 2017 – the day the club was officially recognised by the Board of Trade in 1892.

This year, 125th birthday celebrations will be kicked off with the release of a special anniversary LFC crest, which will be revealed on next season’s kit in April.

Of course, the best way to honour the 125th year as a club would be to return to silverware-winning ways.

Children’s & youth work links

Links from the world of children’s and youth ministry:

We Only Sing 25 Songs a Year at Youth Group: Josh Griffin blogs the list of songs that he used in 2016 within his youth ministry.

How I communicate with youth ministry volunteers: William Cumby shares six ways that he communicates with his volunteers.

6 Strategies To Help Young People Discover And Love Your Church: Ed Stetzer interviews Kara Powell about the Growing Young book and to share a little more about the research behind it.

Mental Health and Well-Being for Young People: More than 850,000 young people in the UK have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, and many more have wellbeing issues.  The Church of England Going for Growth website has an excellent list of links to sites and resources which will help raise and address these issues.

X-Plan: Giving your kids a way out: A great blog to deal with the situations that many young people find themselves in, aren’t comfortable in, but don’t know how to find a way out of.

Klopp is the third quickest Liverpool FC manager to hit the 100-point-milestone

Jürgen Klopp today reflected on reaching the 100-point milestone with Liverpool last weekend and insisted: ‘We’re really ready for the all the challenges still to come.’

The boss achieved his league century with the 3-1 win over Arsenal on Saturday, doing so in just 57 matches at the helm.

Klopp is the third quickest manager to hit the 100 mark in top-flight matches in the Reds history, with only Kenny Dalglish (48) and David Ashworth (56) doing it in fewer.

And asked what he’s learned over the course of wracking up those points, Klopp said in his pre-Burnley press conference:

“I understand the language better, that’s the main improvement for me!

“I’ve learned a lot about the league, I’ve learned a lot about the club and I’ve learned a lot about my players.

“Yes, we have improved and we are able to play good football. We have struggled in a few moments, you know about the reasons – a few injuries, too many, that’s how it is and it’s not let us develop as much as would have been possible I would think. But everything is on a good way.

“The atmosphere within the club is fantastic and we are really close together, really ready for all of what is coming up, in this season, the next season and the season after that. That is all good.

“100 points sounds a lot, but a minute ago we spoke about the matches where we didn’t get the points, so obviously it could have been even quicker and that would have been nice! It is like it is and it’s all in a good way.

“We are still all full of power, full of joy for the job and challenge.”

Brilliant new This Girl Can advert to celebrate active women

I love the This Girl Can campaign.  It is a celebration of active women who are doing their thing no matter how well they do it, how they look or even how red their face gets.  Developed by Sport England, to help women overcome the fear of judgement that is stopping too many women and girls from joining in.

Even by their standards though the new advert is awesome:

The ad uses extracts from Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Women poem alongside real women taking part in sport.

Leaked Arsenal kit for 2017-2018 season

Arsenal fans are likely to already be dreaming of the 2017/18 season after seeing their hopes for this campaign dashed before the end of February, with back-to-back Premier League defeats against Watford and Chelsea accompanied by a drubbing against Bayern Munich in the Champions League- ending any chance of success in either competition/

Big changes could occur behind the scenes this summer as question marks remain regarding the future of long-serving manager Arsene Wenger, whilst the Gunners also face the risk of losing Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil- both of whom enter the final 12 months of their contracts this summer.

Arsenal’s changes could also occur on the field too, specifically regarding the playing kits, as leaked images circulated on social media this week that suggest a major kit change will occur for the 2017/18 season.

The Gunners home strip remains largely unchanged, excluding a smart-looking trim to the collar, but the choice of turquoise for the away jersey will certainly raise some eyebrows- as it’s a far-cry from the usual blue or yellow colours for Arsenal’s travelling strip.

There’s also the small matter of the black and pink combo of the third kit shown in the image, with it not being clear as to whether that jersey would be the alternate option for the Gunners or the goalkeeping shirt.

Either way, the changes are unlikely to go down well with a large majority of supporters.