It was an early start (for me anyway) starting with a bus to Clapham Junction, a train to Gatwick Airport, a bus transfer from Barcelona Airport to the hotel. After checking in and a quick change, I met up with the rest of the umpires (some I have worked with before and some I have not) and headed out to the venue - about 20mins on the coach provided by the organiser. The tournament took place at the Pavelló de la Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona (about 30 mins on the tube from the city centre). The tournament is on its second year and was the fourth tournament of the 2019 BWF World Tour.
Day 1 and 2 went like a breeze with good organisation from Chencho and his team. The meals were provided next door, at the restaurant of the local tennis club. We were spoilt to 3 course meal (eg light salad, mains and desert with a drink). On Thursday evening (Day 3), the umpires and volunteers were invited by the Spanish badminton association to a typical Catalonian restaurant where we were served various tapas dishes including chorizo and patatas bravas.
Because Quarter Finals didn’t start until mid-Friday afternoon (Day 4), some of us managed a short tour of the city in morning where we walked around the famous Las Ramblas (La Boqueria) and the Gothic Quarter (Barcelona Cathedral and Carrer del Bisbe).
On the Semi Finals day (Day 5), the referee decided to allocate matches to umpires who haven't or don’t often have a chance to use the IRS (Instant Review System aka hawk-eye). For this, I umpired one of the Women’s Singles between the No. 4 seed Line Hørmark Kjaersfeldt (DEN) against No. 1 Han Yue (CHN). It was a thrilling three-set match with 3 challenges made by the players! It was a good learning experience for me having only done IRS once two years ago.
For those umpires not selected for the finals, it gave us a chance to explore Barcelona city further. Jitirut (THA), Goran (CRO) and I visited the famous La Sagrada Familia and Casa Milà. After the city tour, we went back to the hall and bid farewell to the other umpires and I made my way to the airport with two Spanish umpires. Going through the airport was fine but I nearly missed my flight because the signage was very confusing! I ended up going out of the departure lounge and back into the arrival hall! So I went through the airport security again and literally ran to my gate to catch my flight back to London. Suffice to say I made it on the flight (I was second last person to board). Other than my school boy error on my finding my way around the airport, I highly recommend doing this tournament and enjoy good badminton in the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region.