EUROPEAN SENIOR BADMINTON CHAMPIONSHIPS
GUADLAJARA, SPAIN 2018
Over 1200 competitors, 1600 matches, 48 umpires and temperatures of 35 degrees outside and 42 degrees in the hall (after turning off the air con), what a week we had.
My Spanish adventure began on Sunday 23rd September with a flight from Birmingham to Amsterdam, with a 1 hour stop over before continuing to Madrid. All seemed to be going well, I even ended up sitting next to a Dutch colleague going to the seniors on the flight from Amsterdam to Madrid, however I soon encountered a problem. I had made my flight from Amsterdam but my suitcase had not, it was having a little holiday all of its own and we wouldn’t be reunited until the Tuesday evening. Not the best of starts to my European Accreditation assessment! Fortunately, I always travel in a set of uniform in case of such eventualities.
The briefing was to be in a hotel not too far from where the umpires were staying, but far enough that we needed to take a coach to the meeting. On arrival at the meeting venue we found that the managers meeting, which should have finished about 30 mins before ours started was still going strong and it would be another 15 minutes before they had finished. This was to be our first real encounter with the heat, stuck in a narrow corridor outside the meeting room! Eventually we accessed the room and our meeting went well, with all umpires receiving their daily food allowances from Badminton Europe at the end. The 10 candidates for assessment were asked to wait behind and meet our two Badminton Europe Assessors – Preben Noeies from Denmark and our own Dave Hinton. After Preben and Dave informed us of their expectations it was back to our hotel from a nightcap or a meal for those who hadn’t eaten.
Play started at 9am on the Monday morning and with the air con blazing away the temperature in the hall wasn’t too bad. The day passed without any real issues except that the electronic scorepads worked intermittently. We soon found out this was because you had to use a special stylus which no one knew about!!
The second day was to be the day the candidates sat their Accreditation theory test, the first time this was to be done for accreditation assessment. The test would take an hour and the candidates had the rest of the morning off. When we returned to duty for the afternoon shift we were told that the air conditioning was now switched off as several players had complained about the drift in the hall. The temperature in the hall had now risen considerably and the shuttles were getting faster! From Wednesday onwards we were instructed to tip every fourth feather on every shuttle as there were not enough shuttles of the slower speed for the tournament. This did improve things except for the odd occasion.
The tournament continued throughout the week with yellow and one red card being issued (The red wasn’t me but one of the yellows was!). This tournament might have been for seniors but every match was fiercely competitive.
The candidates received their results on Saturday morning, subject to Badminton Europe approval with 8 passes and 2 fails. Saturday night saw the player’s party to which the umpires were invited and what a night it was. Several umpires ended up on the dance floor, some taking part in some Spanish dancing, which was very funny and was duly recorded and will I am sure find its way onto YouTube at some point.
All too soon the tournament was finished and it was time to say goodbye to Spain and umpiring friends both old and new. It is often said that umpires at these tournaments are like one big family and I can truly say that in this case it was definitely true.
Martyn T Davis