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EuroTeams XTRAS ... Issue #3 

Welcome on board

They're friendly here in Sweden - typified by our bus driver on the morning of the semi-finals, who greeted all 50-odd of us onto the bus with a cheery "Morgen".

He then surprised everyone when, just after setting out from the hotel, he reached for his microphone to make an announcement ... what was it to be, asking if anyone was destined for the ÷-hallen club (on the way to the main venue),  telling the Italians off for being too noisy ???

No, in that lovely Swedish accent he simply said:

"Good morning everyone, I hope you had a nice sleep. I just wanted to welcome you to another lovely day ..."

Which brought laughter, a round of applause, and a smile which will probably stay on everyone's faces for the rest of the day - or at least until they get to the point of no return in their match ...

So thanks, Leif, you started everyone's day with a Swedish smile ...

 

Singing in May

'Valborg' has been celebrated for many many years in Sweden, as a way of weelcoming Spring and leaving Winter behind. The most common way to celebrate is with the singing of songs of spring, generally from the 19th century, spread by students' spring festivals.

So, on the last day of March, everyone here was treated to Valborg with a choir which performed several beautiful songs to the audience on the glass court, then proceeded to serenade the tables in the adjacent dining room, one by one.

A lovely touch, so welcome spring, welcome ...
 

#2: JAMES ON THE FOOT, REHAB,
AND THE EUROPEANSÖ

Fram, in Sunny South of France, talks to James, in Rainy Leeds

How did the surgery go?

It was virtually two and a half weeks ago, it wasnít long, it was maybe an hourís operation, nothing too major, just the removal of a bone spur that I had.

Itís been very satisfying lying on my little sofa, with my little leg up, ordering everyone about. But there comes a time where, you know, where there is more to life than lying on sofas, I guessÖ

No, itís been a really enjoyable few weeks doing absolutely nothing!

So, put on weight then?

Oh YES! I probably shifted about three tons of chocolate in the last three weeks, being the addictive personality that I am, Iíve got the love handles that are thereÖ But itís good, itís grazing, I call it ďthe grazing seasonĒÖ

I heard you went and enjoyed Dublin last weekend?

Yes, we had a great weekend with Vanessa, although it was a bit disappointing for her as the first day we arrived, she unfortunately lost, but apart from that, it was a good weekend, a few days out there relaxing really. We didnít get involved in the squash as much which was probably a nice thing, and although I love watching her play, it certainly didnít upset me not to go and watch squashÖ

Letís talk about your form thenÖ

Iíve been able to move around a bit, resting mainly but today was my first day of rehab, and this morning, I had a bit of physio for the first time, which was good, because itís amazing what physios can do these days! It was agony, needless to sayÖ But I can actually now walk to the kettle and make myself a cup of tea, which is fantastic and excellent news for me!

Any particular worries?

After the surgery, you still have fears and doubts, with surgeries there is always an element of risk, itís never 100%, and I guess you donít really know until you get going againÖ But I think it was the only thing left to be done, I couldnít carry on because it was in my head, and I suppos Iím much more confident now, having had it done.

Before it was, has it really gone, well it did for a while, then it came back, and that made the head even worse. Now, weíve done a proper surgery, that has given me more confidence, but obviously Iíll have to be able to move well, and that will give me even more confidence thenÖ

The right people are behind me, I have probably one of the best orthopaedic surgeons I could have hoped for, he is based in Northampton, he has worked on all sorts of sportsmen and women, heís got a great track record, and my physio was in no doubt where to let me go.

When can we hope for you to be back?

In terms of impact work, like running or squash court or whatever, it will be another four or five weeks I would have thought, itís not till the end of the world. I did my first training session yesterday, it was quite laughable really, I was hobbling round the gym with the crutches on. But the trainer set me some very simple work to do, so, Iím already up and running, but, in terms of movement, thatís a while off yet.

About my return, itís much about see how it happens, I donít want to rush the rehab, itís a good time to have it, weíve got plenty of time, and itís three or four months now, so it would be silly to rush it. So, just let it happen.

The injury comes first, but it would be nice to think that I have a chance to make it hopefully to that World Games in China in July, and hopefully get the ball rolling in August. If things go well, I might be able to be up and running by the end of June, and being able to play French Leagues finals, Iíve got my team there, Iím really going to try and get there for them, because I know the team really wants to win it, and I would like to be able to help.

Are you missing the Europeans?

Itís such an interesting and a social event, Iím sad to miss it, itís a good briging together of different teams, you see a lot of people you donít normally see when you play on the Tour, so I miss it, and of course, I wish them luck!

Iím watching, of course, I want them to do as well as they can, Iíll be at the end of the phone, Iíve spoken to or had texts from a couple of them, just telling them good luck really.

It will be tough, the French match looks an interesting prospect, it will be hard, Thierry and Greg are in great form, so, thatís going to be tough this year, interesting as always, and Iím wishing all the best luck possible to the England Team, both men and women.
 

HOW many refs ???

At the Referees' Symposium just before the event (more on that later), World Referee Roy Gingell explained the workings of the three-referee system - which is to be used here for the finals, semis and 3rd/4th matches - to the 40-odd referees here for the event.

You may remember a couple of years ago in Ricionne we managed to get a shot of six referees overlooking one court, well, here in  Malmo we've gone one better ...

If you count up the reserved referee seats plus the referees already sitting down, we have NINE ...  are you sure you have enough manpower for the final day, Roy ???

#1: Arrival Day in in Malmo

With 49 teams, plus their managers, coaches and physios, plus tournament officials, referees and of course the press, around 450 people arrived in Malmo today for the 2009 European Team Championships - 'arrival' day is always a bit manic, especially for those having to organise it!

For me arrival meant a direct flight from Newcastle - something of a luxury - to Copenhagen, an efficient pickup as the German ladies and I were whisked over the Oresund Link, a 10-mile bridge/tunnel connection between Denmark and Sweden, and ensconcement at the tournament hotel, situated right in the centre of Malmo and surrounded by lovely pedestrian squares and parks.



The bus - on the hour every hour from the hotel - takes the players to the two venues which are being used.

The main venue, Bellevue Stadium, is a huge place with plenty of sports catered for - including would you believe indoor beach volleyball (well, I suppose it is an Olympic sport).

The glass court with a seating capacity of around 400 is pretty much ready, the stadium's five-in-a-line glassback courts look in prime condition, the newly set up dining area is huge, and the press room is ... well, still being built, so all in all we're just about ready to go ...





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