Saturday, September 20, 2008

SWATCH FIVB Junior World Championships

060920086370309200862907092008646  End of August and the end of the Beach Volleyball Season. (you can read all about my travels on the English tour by clicking here.) The English tours final event was held in Brighton and due to my partners injured leg we pulled out after our first game (which we still won!) But the very next day began the hard slog of preparing the Yellowave Beach Centre and the nearby street for the Junior World Champs. (under 21s) My initial voluntary position was that of court manager. In addition to centre court which was in the Yellowave Centre with 2000 seats of grandstand around it, there were 3 further competition courts and 2 practice courts built out on the street. In between my court manager training on Monday I was helping Mark with setting things up and building the post systems etc. Mid afternoon Mark came to me and said I should move from court managing to the operations team to assist Baz, an australian guy who flew in especially for the event. Tristan (wearing his lovely blue pyjamas) was then moved into our team and between the 3 of us we formed the backbone of the operations team for the next 6 days. Posts, Nets and lines were all perfected, centre court was built, scoreboards put together, safety fences put up, banners and flags, huge blow up SWATCH things, and many things fixed or made safe. Had many trips to B&Q to buy bits and pieces and come up with ways to fix or build things. Tuesday I even had to act as safety manager as the real safety manager was apparently having a day off! Along with Amy I spent about an hour keeping people away from a digger while it cleaned up a major thoroughfare on the site--there were some very rude coaches who couldnt see why they had to go around and not walk under the digger as it worked!!  By this stage most of the teams were in town and crawling all over the site having training sessions on all the courts.

Wednesday the qualification tournament took place and yet we were still setting things up! Many challenges had to be overcome and Mark had to act as tournament promoter effectively as the real promoter didnt really have a clue. This put more strain on all of us and so as the tournament started for real on Thursday morning we were just starting to get things together. For me it felt like halfway through Thursday that we were on top of things and ready to start!! Unfortunately the weather packed in and was pretty bad most days. New Zealand had 2 teams in the qualification tournament--the O'Dea brothers won their first game but lost the 2nd in a cruel single elimination format. Kate Sheriff and Simone Head also won 1 and lost 1 in their pool play meaning they also just missed out on main draw. We then had Julia Tilley and Hannah Croad in the main draw but after pool play (3 games) they had lost all 3. I had a sore throat most of the week and Thursday nite awoke with high temp and feverish. Dr Wear (Lara) was our resident doctor for the week so I was able to get medication but had to keep working each day in the cold and rain--quite miserable when you feel sick. We also had a great osteopath there who worked on my back a few times using me as a guinea pig to teach the physio guy how to do backs!! Felt great!

Most days I was up around 7:15 to shower, put my uniform on, pack my bag, and grab some croissants and yoghurt at the restaurant on the way out of the hotel. (with a very sore throat eating was difficult!) To the courts in the Chrysler voyager, often taking players or coaches with me-I drove the Kiwis and the Canadians quite often). Open the storage shed and get out equipment needed for the day. Make sure all courts are good to play and then see what needs fixing or adjusting. Watch the kiwis play or try to watch a few other games here and there. Make sure trash bins have been emptied and the portaloo company has been to clean the toilets! Make sure the whole site is safe and keep cars out of the close up parking areas so tv and radio and VIP cars can have parking. Eat lunch and dinner whenever can get a chance to get in the warm food tent. Its a long busy day and don't seem to really get a chance to sit still. Someone or something is always needing your attention or help! Still its enjoyable (except for the weather and my health) and working with Baz, Tristan and Mark was great. Saturday nite we have a BBQ for all the players etc and then go to a Bar in Brighton. Its pretty much players only and has a dance floor and great music. The kiwi players were the centre of it with heaps of energy and craziness! Something about kiwis!! Was a good nite overall and then Sunday was the semis and finals. The rain stayed away but it was still overcast. There were some people in the grandstands and some good volleyball was played! Both finals were fairly 1 sided however meaning not very close or exciting. Italy won for the boys and the Netherlands for the girls.

After a big awards presentation it was all over and the players were soon all gone, leaving us to pack things down. Unfortunately we had to move all our equipment into a storage unit further away than the one we had used all week meaning loading the van and repacking everything into the other 1. I felt horrible and the evening dragged on as we sorted the stuff out. Finally about 9pm it was all done and I loaded my stuff out of the Chrysler and into the Dodge and drove back to London and bed. A huge week--about 80 hours worked following 40 hours on the 3 days before it and 37 days straight working between my normal job and volleyball every weekend.

Now we wait to see if we will get to host a World Tour event in London next July and on up to the 2012 Olympics.