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Chile Trump Mexico.

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Mexico fails to build defensive wall, pays for it


Chile thumped Mexico 7-0 in last night’s Copa America quarter-final with an impressive world-class display that had El Tri and its fans wishing for the final whistle long before the ninety minutes was played. Four goals from Eduardo Vargas, two from Edson Puch and one from Alexei Sanchez did all the damage. Mexico had no answer to the swift and multiple incursions into its territory from a faster and more confident Chile team. Mexico’s midfield failed to build a defensive wall and as a result their back four were constantly exposed by a Chile attack that exploited Mexico’s undefended spaces. Chile peppered Mexico’s goal with 21 attempts — many good goal-scoring chances

Although the scoreline was surprising, the result shouldn’t have been. Much to my surprise, all four Fox Sports studio team members picked Mexico to win despite the fact that Chile rank higher in the FIFA World rankings and have arguably been the best team in the tournament. Was this political correctness? Corporate pandering to a significant part of its market? Or did the studio commenters get carried away in the emotion of the moment?

One rationalization for the picks — Mexico were on a year-long winning streak. When will commentators and analysts realize the ‘hot hand bias’ or ‘momentum’ fallacy? Streaks — either winning or losing — make a good story but they are talking points, and talking points don’t win matches. We overvalue those streaks but the fact is that if you’re on a long streak the chances are good its going to end sooner rather than later. There’s at least as much rationality in selecting a team to “lose” because they are on a winning streak which statistically is going to end. The concept of momentum has very little predictive value, generally.

Another rationalization for the Mexico picks was that they had the advantage of fantastic and overwhelming support. Again this is an advantage that is also over-rated. Fan advantage can indeed be a huge plus if you’re playing well and are winning. However, if you’re not playing well and losing, a massive fan turnout can quickly turn into an albatross around the collective neck. Even if fans stick with their team, the players themselves have to cope with the feeling that they are being humiliated and letting their massive fan base down when they get hammered. And frankly, for most of the second half Mexico players looked understandably forlorn and defeated.

Mexico will surely recover from this thrashing as they are a good team but this performance was as ugly as…..well, just plain ugly. Chile won hands down.


Howard Rankin is a freelance writer who writes about neuroscience, psychology, business and sports. He helped Barrett Murphy write Barefoot Bloodied and Bruised: The amazing story of Louisiana six-man football and is the co-author with Orwell Moore and Tammy Moore Harrison of Breaking the Press: The incredible story of the All-American Red Heads.

The Ultimate Adopted Child Reunion

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Seventeen years ago, a six year-old Albanian girl was abducted from her parents in a makeshift refugee camp in Kosovo. She was put on a bus by Serbian soldiers and watched in horror as those same Serbians beat up her father as he tried unsuccessfully to rescue her. Along with the other abducted girls, Njomza, had no idea where she was being taken. A few hours later she arrived in a strange place but instead of firing squads and soldiers, she found nuns and friendly faces. The Albanian girls had simply been shipped out of their home country of Kosovo and dumped, in Macedonia.

Terrified and alone, Njomza was taken by the nuns, cleaned up and put to bed. But before she went to sleep, a kindly man came by to see her. She looked into his eyes and instantly knew she could trust him. The next day, he came back and adopted her.

Njomza didn’t speak Macedonian but in any event was mute through the trauma of war and the separation from her family. But in her adopted family, she had a sister, Kana, kind adoptive parents and other young adults, who it turned out, were older children and their girlfriends and fiancees. The family was loving and generous, buying Njomza new clothes, making her feel loved and rescuing her from her war experiences and trauma. During the day, Njomza would play; at night she had horrendous nightmares. Gradually, however, she put aside the thoughts of war and her family of origin and settled into life in a new, loving world.

The bubble burst a few weeks later, when Njomza saw a photo in the newspaper of a girl waiting in line at a refugee camp. The girl looked vaguely familiar. And then Njomza realized: it was her sister Arbresha. Memories of her family, repressed for a while, now came flooding back. Njomza ran around the house clutching the newspaper and the memory of her family close to her heart. Later that day, Njomza refused dinner on the grounds that “if my family can’t eat this, then neither can I.” The rest of the adults agreed, and they all went hungry that night, too.

Njomza and her new family faced an agonizing decision. Did she want to stay on in the safety of the bosom of this loving new family or did she want to find her family of origin and rejoin the war zone? After very tearful goodbyes, her new father drove to the refugee camp at Stankovec in an attempt to reunite Njomza with her family. Miraculously, as they were entering the camp, Njomza saw her mother about to leave it, to go in search for her daughter. A   joyful reunion was the cue for her adoptive father to say a sad goodbye and head home to Skopje.

Over the years, the Macedonian family wondered whatever happened to that little girl they temporarily saved from the war zone. Where was she? Did she survive the war? What happened to her? These were burning questions that weren’t extinguished by the passing of the years. Njomza too, wondered about the people who saved her and showered her with love. She was too young and didn’t speak the language to know their names or address or have any contact information. In a bizarre reversal of the typical adoptive’s dilemma who ponder whether to go in search of their birthparents, Njomza wanted to find the people who had briefly adopted her.

Years passed. Njomza’s family came to America and gradually, after some terrible difficulties, Njomza grew into an amazing young woman, full of grace, compassion and forgiveness. She has even written a book about her experiences and is about to launch an IndieGoGo campaign to raise some money for the final edit and publication.

Last week, Njomza, received a strange Facebook request from someone in Macedonia. She was suspicious at first but whoever was trying to make contact was persistent but fluent in neither English nor Albanian. Eventually Njomza realized it was one of her family members, the family from Macedonia. A call was quickly arranged and for the first time in 17 years she was reunited with her saviors.

“It was incredibly emotional,” says Njomza holding back the tears. “We couldn’t really communicate through words, but our emotions said it all. There was a lot of crying and smiling — I just wanted to reach through the monitor and hug them all.”

“They told me stuff that I remembered; that I hardly spoke and that I played all day but cried all night. But there were things I didn’t know. For example, they didn’t know whether I was a boy or girl until they bathed me! My mom had cut my hair short and dressed me like a boy so that I wouldn’t be raped, like most of the Albanian women did to their daughters. Apparently, I also ate a lot of ice-cream. I also connected with one of the daughter-in-laws. She was the one who took me under her wing and took care of me. Seeing her again was incredibly emotional for both of us.”

Now they have found each other neither party will ever let go again.

‘They are family. I will never forget what they did for me both in adopting me in the first place and then returning me to the camp to find my parents and siblings. They are so loving.”

The timing couldn’t have been better.

“Now I can feature them more clearly in my book.” Blossom: Confessions of a Child of War is in the final edit stage and an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to get it finished and published is about to start. To find out more, or to contribute or to merely spread the word, please go to:

IndieGoGo campaign



Want to Write Your Story? 5 Crucial Tips for Authors

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1. Know your purpose

It’s the first thing I ask authors. Why are you writing this book? There are all sorts of reasons and all of them are valid. “I have thought about it for so long, now I just have to do it.” “I want my family to have my personal record.” “I want to write a bestseller.” Knowing your purpose is crucial  because that will determine how the story is written.

​ 2. There’s more than one way to tell your story

When I am creating a new piece of work, whether that’s non-fiction or fiction, I consider many different ways the story could be told. Most people have an idea and just go with that first idea. That’s a mistake because your first idea is unlikely to be the best version of that story. In fact, the collective wisdom is that in writing a screenplay, for example, you come up with fifty variations on the storyline. Yes, fifty. And some of those will be a lot better than others.

3. Don’t rush

Writing is thinking and writing is editing. I am amazed when people tell me they’ve been thinking about an idea for years and now want a first draft in four weeks! Sure, you don’t want to get bogged down forever but you need enough time to let the story evolve and to sculpt it in the most effective way. It’s not about your first idea, it’s about all the subsequent ones that will improve that idea.

4. Think about marketing

Most authors want as much exposure as possible for their books and that means they need to consider marketing. Marketing needs to be considered before you start writing not afterwards. This is especially true for personal stories and memoirs. Unless you’re a celebrity not too many people are going to be interested in your life per se. So the book has to be made meaningful to readers by speaking to bigger issues. For example, I am currently ghostwriting an amazing book about a child  who experienced the horrors of ethnic cleansing during the Kosovo-Serbian conflict. The story itself is amazing but it will get wider exposure by relating the story to the traumas that children experience in war (and elsewhere) and how to help them overcome these horrors.

5. Hire someone with content knowledge.

If you’re using a mentor or a ghostwriter, find someone with knowledge of your content.  For example, in the story of the child at war mentioned above, my psychological expertise in trauma helped inform the story and the lessons learned from it. You are the expert in your personal experience but there are writers out there who are experts in the bigger context of your story.
​Dr. Howard Rankin is the author of numerous self-help books on such subjects as communication, wellness, and relationships and has ghostwritten memoirs, business books, sports books and others on such subjects as happiness, leadership,  dementia, neuroscience in management, and many more.