That’s right, you heard it here first, the Barons embarked on the University of Buckingham’s first over-seas sports adventure EVER!! And we lost 😊 But, the outcome of the game was actually pretty insignificant after all.
Now, let me take you way back to the spontaneous conception of this somewhat idiotic idea. By November, I’d ticked off a few goals already, but I knew the Barons had more to offer.
1. Talk to the team WITH eye contact, check.
2. Establish amateur highlights with the potential for ESPN greatness, check.
3. Stick a camera in their faces at every opportunity, check.
What was left? Oh, of course, cram them all onto a plane, send them to a foreign country and take them on a ‘Lovers Canal Cruise’… easy!
It’s funny really, I get this surge of adrenaline, have a coffee, feel amazing about life and make ‘executive’ decisions neglecting the process between conception and finalisation. I have yet to master the concept of responsibility, but boy did I learn some important lessons during this vital middle section of planning. Playing travel agent, tour leader and map reader did not highlight any hidden strengths, instead implying that these qualities should be actively hidden at all costs.
So the idea of a basketball tour set the foundations for what was sure to be a Sports Union breakthrough, and as with all great 21st Century innovations, I had to determine the perfect method of presenting such a complex idea: ‘I know, let’s stick a hashtag in there and pray to God the guys go for it’. Thus, #teamontour was born!
Still traveling at 100mph, I contacted tour companies that accommodated sports teams, eventually ending up with a quote for three nights and one fixture in… AMSTERDAM! What the frig had I just done!? I volunteered to be tour leader for a group of 19-26-year-old university basketball players in a country known for its pot smoking, beer drinking and extremely attractive, scantly clad women in windows! Needless to say, my mother had a fit when I attempted to outline my grand plan. On the plus side, convincing the guys was no longer a problem, it was the sports office and their bosses who were a completely different challenge.
My organisational skills could have been more refined as planning an entire over-seas adventure on Facebook with only a few of the team, and then adding the Sports Union coordinator into the chat was probably not the most resourceful way to go. I’ll never forget that Monday morning, shuffling into the sports office, peeping round the door and with my best puppy dog eyes, muttering ‘I think I have some explaining to do’. Callum took some convincing, and his panicking about visas, timing and ‘questionable’ behaviour did make pleading difficult. But it was all good, I’d prepared for these questions thoroughly. We would check-in a team case and smuggle the illegals in through the hold, which if we did from the get go would have saved money and time (did I mention I’d love a career in law enforcement?). Timing was never an issue, I knew where the guys lived and could contact them 24/7 through social media so avoidance was not an option, as I’m sure they’d now tell you! They didn’t have to like me, just do as I said, and they’d be fine. As for the ‘questionable’ behaviour, the society had funds so all we’d have needed was a wire transfer for bail money. Not really sure what all the worry was about, I was completely qualified and competent to handle this, right?
So, my meticulously planned insurance policies must have pulled me through as we received the green light from the ‘guys upstairs’. Passport and euros in check, I was ready to go! Turns out trying to get an answer from a team of students mimics the pain of trying to get them to attend lectures, you tell yourself it’ll be worth it in the end, until the sleepless nights make you want to change your name and move to Venezuela. Dealing with the Schengen embassy was even worse, I’m pretty sure I’m blacklisted in their phonebook now.
The months rolled on, the guys payed their deposits ON TIME, we checked in a team case (for kit, not players!) and even purchased a pocket travel guide- yeah, I’m ‘that’ tourist. When departure day finally arrived, our 4am Easter Sunday taxi (yeah, I was popular for that one) didn’t accept cards, go figure, AND the cash machine was broke. A well-controlled, absolute freak out on my part was quickly rescued by my teammates and their more advanced cab-knowledge… I swear you can pay by card up North… okay maybe not in the world’s smallest town.
Safely at the airport; six players, one Nikon, and a chocolate bunny wrapped in tinfoil. See you on the other side!