It's a very odd thing about the Uwh worlds competitions, the way the comp plays out at the end.
My first comp I think we placed 7th in Hobart in 2000, and I have vague recollections of a poolside frenzy of gear-swapping and semi-stripping of which I actually avoided, wanting to hold onto my own gear because... it was my first gear with a fern on it at a worlds. So I think I probably wandered through the crowd with a spare T-Shirt held out in front of me until I ended up swapping it with some other sweaty (possibly slightly tipsy) person.
Anyone want to swap a shirt?
It can be drastically different the experience of the last few days depending on what's going on with your team. If you end up in a playoff for 7-8th, then most likely you have a couple social nights before the end of the comp and have a chance to meet other countries before the function... gear swapping, picking a favourite to cheer for, watching the drama unfold and shouting yourself hoarse. Eating all kinds of rubbish and leaving your drink bottle at home (or in a rubbish bin).
Meanwhile on a given day, the teams that are still in it are in an adapting world where instead of juggling stretching areas to find a spot no-one else is using for a warmup, there is now space galore but there is a party in the causeway on the way through to be navigated. Coaches and managers become grumpy bouncers roaming late-night hallways re-directing and scowling at boisterous partygoers on their way back to their rooms or just local students drunk in the wrong corridors, given the finals tends to be on a friday or saturday.
You could argue there's far less fun going on in the finalists camps on the last days... but of course when you're not involved and the pressure is off, you would still give anything to be in that buildup still, in that interminable waiting process that is being alive in the end of the competition, in the space between one all-or-nothing pressure game and the next, where there is no training to be done and nothing to do but try to eat, stretch, sleep and occupy your mind with anything at all until finally the countdown starts. I'm sure some people love it, but most I know aren't overly fond of the waiting.
To kill some of that time, here are some things I missed earlier...
Ben getting the most thorough bodily search we ever saw on the way through the states. Took 15 minutes of groping, honestly. Was probably quite useful as a massage!
Rob utilising a very new product, the edible glove, for when you just need that extra energy in the subs bench.
Possibly reposting this but I just love it so much. Jeremy the team hairdresser showcasing his skills at a previous tournament, but amazingly no haircuts were given in Quebec!
Aww just look at this youthful enthusiasm, it's beautiful! Leah and Ben were both presented with their player numbers on a wee patch they could take home, along with a few others who hadn't been presented them in front of the team families, but I can't find a photo of all of them sadly
BBQ with the parentals and supporters! This happened a few days in, nice and relaxing social occasion with the army of supporters that came with us from NZ and did such a great job shouting for us and helping out with all sorts of things. Much appreciated!
As those with kids at home will know, use of various skypeish technologies is an absolutely essential daily routine.
The womens team in one of those sensible, capture the moment type here-we-are-at-the-comp photos that they always take and that never ever even occurs to the mens team to take until you see that the women did it months later
Womens team with their player numbers on patches!
Parentals! Look at all that helping, awesome huh?
Us reaffirming to ourselves why we are Uwh players and not professional footballers
Leah and Paige demonstrating their amazing artwork of their spirit animals, with which they decorated their doors.
I can't remember if I've already mentioned this. I was walking down the corridor and past this very door (Leah and Paiges room) while the girls were all in a meeting, and saw a secret santa prezzy by the door.
What's that? The women have a tradition of being anonymously linked to a buddy in the team, and showering that person with anonymous gifts over the course of the comp, according to the level of their particular buy-in... it seems that like an office party secret santa box, some people go the $20 gift equivalent and some give an office stapler... although they are all pretty good by the sound of it.
On an impulse, I grabbed this package and snuck it into my room, opened it and sure enough there was a cute stuffed toy inside. It was addressed to Leah. What a sweet little gift for a team-mate, to give her a warm fuzzy out of the blue! I took it out, replaced it with a small piece of paper with my best drawing of a poo on it, and wrapped it up again. I wasn't thinking too far ahead.
I was now stuck with a soft-toy and a prank present and I suddenly panicked that I would be wrecking the womens team harmony by doing this, and so then tried to fix it. I got a paper cup, stuck the toy inside, stuck it in a bag, wrote "please give this to Leah" on it, then stuck that in another bag and addressed it to Paige.
Now they both had a present, all fixed. Right? Well, maybe. Annoyingly, they immediately knew it was me! How you identify someone purely by their artistic impression of a small pile of poo I have no idea, but it doesn't seem fair.
Jesse and his Pinata which met a violent end
One of our few trips to local restaurants, this one in Old Town
We had a court session here, where we developed a genius idea from Ben which amounts to this.... guilt not by proof, but guilt determined by an old-fashioned vote. Brutal.
And this was our last night out together during the comp. Sniff!
Next post, finals