En Bref 11

• Kuwait PSA Cup  • 23-29 Nov 2011 • Kuwait •  








#1: HK to KUW  |  #2: Guided Tours  |  #3: Great Big Events, French in Kuwait

Kuwait Cup EN BREF #3
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Kuwait Cup


Well, I have been so lucky every time I came to Kuwait, people, because I have met here some gorgeous and darn interesting ladies. Last year, I had the immense privilege to meet with Her Excellency  Sheikha Fadyah Al-Sabah.

This year, I met Jennie Lee, General Manager of the remarkable Great Big Events, specialists in Sport Events, based in Australia, with an office in London. But also with Frédérique Asfar, from the UFE in Kuwait.

Let me introduce them to you....



First time I arrived in Green Island this year, the place was invaded with "Men and Ladies in Black".

They were always busy doing something or another, always polite, efficient, and smiling. But one person in particular attracted my attention. A blond lady, with a smile that enlightens her face, with a charm and a warmth, that immediately told me she was a person I could be friend with.

Plus, she liked the way I dress. Say no more....

In fact, that clever and greatly efficient lady is Jennie Lee, the General Manager of Great Big Events, in charge of making the Kuwait Cup an unforgettable experience.

Originally a singer, she met GBE Managing Director Greg Bowman - a former musician - 25 years ago, and has now been working with him for 12 years.

"Sport is a theatre, and the audience wants to be entertained, and sport should be presented in the best possible light as possible", she explains.

"It's true both for the audience and the competitors. It's a total experience.".


"Great Big Events' Sport Presentation philosophy is to create the perfect environment for players and athletes to perform and spectators to enjoy. It is what spectators see, hear and feel that can build an exhilarating and unforgettable atmosphere for spectators and athletes at every event.

And how do they do that?

"Well, we achieve this by uniquely integrating all elements of sport production from the moment spectators walk through the turnstiles, to the athlete entries, the drama of sport in action, to spectators making their way home."

I must say it's a different approach from anything I've seen before. They also take in consideration the players perspective.

"For the players, already during the warm up, they must feel the atmosphere. We try and speak with the players, to make them comfortable with our presence and directions. And no matter their ranking, they must be felt they are part of a whole puzzle."


Managing and Creative Director, Greg Bowman coined the term Sport Presentation for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, and this model has since been adopted by the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees and multiple National and International Federations, covering more than 55 major international sporting competitions.

Great Big Events has managed Sport Presentation for the 2005 West Asian Games, 2006 Asian Games, 2009 FINA World Series Diving2010 IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships in Doha and the 2010 FINA World Swimming Championships in Dubai.

This is Great Big Events' second trip to the Nation of Kuwait, following the very successful Kuwait Men's World Open Squash Championships in 2009.

Over the past several months we have been building the assets required to stage a first class Sport Presentation and cultural ceremonies program, including specially selected music; video packages; player headshots; preparation of scripts; signage; entertainment; spectator interactivity; graphics and animations; presentation formats, among other elements.

We have been working closely with the Higher Organising Committee to complete our objective to provide a World Class squash tournament in honour of His Highness Sheikh Saad Abdullah Al-Sabah, the Patriarch Amir and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Constitution of Kuwait at spectacular Green Island.


And they also look at a "global approach" from a presentation point of view.

"We work on the presentation, and we work with the photos of the players, their bios, and sometimes, we meet them, and just talk to them as if they were family, because it's like we know them so well, just by studying them, and they look at us, they don't know who we are!!

Like me last year, Jennie is in total admiration for HE Sheikha Fadyah Al-Sabah.

"She is an amazing lady, she understands perfectly the need for a sport to be given a profile. "She's got so much respect for the players and the organisers.

"She is amazingly smart and astute. She knows everything, sees everything, knows exactly what's happening, she's got a finger on the pulse.

She is the reason we came back here after 2009, as for a company, she gives us a great platform to get results and achievements. We are given the best tools to do a great job, and have the opportunity to do it well."

Ali Competition Manager, Ahmed, Media Relation and TransportOf course, nothing could be achieve with the help and support of the local team here in KW.

"They work so hard. We do work a lot, but they are side by side with us the whole time, Ali, Ahmed, all the them. It's a real pleasure to work with them. They work beyond the call of duty.

And like HE the Sheikha, they love the sport, they love the players, and they are so proud of their country.

The Avenue, probably the Biggest Shopping Mall in the World...

The French contingency in 2009,
in Frédérique's home

Greg, Mathieu, Frédérique & some lovely French Expats
in the Avenues Mall

One of the biggest
Shopping Malls in the World

Mall Directory


"A French citizen is never alone abroad".

Like in a lot of other countries, there is a organisation in Kuwait that help the French people upon their arrival in this wonderful country, the UFE.

Their president in Kuwait, Frédérique Laffay-Asfar, whose been living in KW for 36 years, is one of the warmest and most helpful people that I've been given the chance to meet.

Born in Vietnam, spent her youth between Tunisia, South Africa and Belgium Congo, and only three years in France, she met her husband in Beirut and got married in 1968. When the war started in Lebanon, they moved to Kuwait in 1976.

Specialised in High Security IT, along with her husband, they worked on several turn-key computer projects for several banks, private companies and governmental organisation, such as Ministry of Health, Planning Ministry, Port Authority, Customs etc.

Having created their own company, Taranis, they've won with Thomson CSF the Kuwait ID card project.

Her husband and her mother were in Kuwait City when Irak invaded Kuwait.

So worried for them when she heard the news, she called her husband, finally got him on the phone, and asked her how things where. "What things", he replied a bit surprised. "Well, the invasion??".

Silence on the phone.

"Ah, I guess I understand now why my newspaper wasn't delivered this morning".


At the end of the war, they both worked closely with the French Embassy and tried and support the French citizens here as much as possible.

Recognising the tremendous effort, generosity, heart and work she's been doing along the numerous years she spent in this country she absolutely adores, French President Jacques Chirac awarded her the title of "Chevalier de l'Ordre du Mérite", one of the highest decoration in France.

"I couldn't have done anything without the unconditional support of my husband", she states. I haven't had the chance to meet him, as the man was in Paris for a few days for a meeting with the Louis Vuitton organisation.

For now 45 years, they form with Gérard a couple that you only read about in fairy tales. He proposed 3 days after meeting her.

"I thought things through for 30sec" she smiles. "Then I told myself, that man is so interesting that I know that in 30 years, I'll still will have something to say to him. And I just said, let's do it."

They have been really living happily ever after, and most part between Kuwait, Paris, and the South of France. But Kuwait is a second "Patrie", homeland, for her.

"I love this country so much, as it has given me the opportunity to bloom, in my family and professional life." says Frédérique with all the French passion that emanates from her.

"Kuwait offers a quality of life seldom seen in other countries. The working environments are very challenging although very pleasant.

"Kuwait has become for me, my second homeland, and I will be very sad when the time comes to leave Kuwait and our Kuwaiti friends."

She's been kind enough to take the French players to lunch and dinner every time they've been coming for the tournament.

And today, she took us to the Avenue, one of the biggest shopping mall in the world, then offered lunch in a French Brasserie, la Brasserie de l'Etoile, along with some other expats from different organisations, with whom we had a great time.

Then, we had a little drive around the city, and it was nice to actually come and SEE the country a tournament happens in, instead of just having the time to see the airport, the hotel, and the venue! That day of rest is just GREAT!!!!!

And as it often happens, Frédérique actually possesses a home only 20km from my house in the South of France. "Le Hasard fait bien les choses", "Luck does things well".

So I know I'm going to see her again, and that's the best news I had for a looooooong time.

Merci ma belle.

Kuwait Cup EN BREF #2
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Kuwait Cup


You may wonder how we are working here in KW. Well, let's start with the Qadsia Club shall we?

You come in, and you arrive in a hall, and to welcome you, who'd better than the Twins, Khaled & Majed Juma, the pulse of the Tournament, who, under the direction of HE Sheikha Fadyah Al-Sabah, and Jahangir, run and help us all to work in perfect conditions.

If you turn to the left, you'll find a corridor that takes you first to the Referees' room, don't they look comfy, and if you then turn to the right, you have the Central Court.

Back your step a bit, and turn left. Upstairs, the food - lovely, thanks!, same company as last year, perfect to be honest - and on the right, the Press Room, with plenty of space and confort, as we are only three of us.

Back downstairs, back in the entrance hall, if you turn right, you find another corridor - which I presented you last year, as it's the Hall of Fame of the Kuwait Tournaments - that gives on the two other courts.

We have like 25 matches happening at the same time - can't wait for the quarters to be honest - and we should finish here around 6, just in time to rush to the Green Island....



When I got a lovely email from former Scottish International since 1982 Barry Sutherland, now head coach at the prestigious Al Corniche for the past three years, I thought oh yes, that's exactly what the doctor ordered!

And I went there upon my arrival to receive a bit of TLC. And that I did get....

It was a bit of a different experience, I must say. You are taken from room to the next, start with changing rooms, of course, lovely bathrobe, then immense jacuzzi, with changing stations, then zoom, a bit of steam to get rid of the toxins, and then, the massage.


I know a bit about massages, OK? I got treatments in virtually all the countries I worked in, and that's a lot. But that Georgian lady? Just amazing hands. I was walking on clouds as I finished...

Can't wait to go back and see the rest of the club....

"We have a fantastic team working away behind the scenes from all over the world at the Al Corniche and is led by Gerard Oliver (General Manager) and Garry Crowe (Ops Manager) also from the UK.

I am always looking to assist as many players and officials whenever they come to Kuwait to ensure they are looked after (pampered in some cases!!!) and try my best to make their stay a more enjoyable one.

It always a pleasure to contribute any form of assistance towards the well being of the participants to that great event, when you see the magnificent work put in from HE Sheikha Fadiya and her team in promoting prestigious tournaments in Kuwait


One of the specificity of Kuwait, like it is in
Qatar or in Cairo, is a different organisation of the traffic. In the European Cities, we have a lot of roads, sprinkled with traffic lights and crossroads everywhere. Not the case here.

You have miles and miles of highways, with no stopping or turn possibility. Which means that sometimes, you'll drive a long way to the next turn to come back all the way if you wish to get on the other side of the current traffic.

All very nice when you are in a car, of course, petrol costs peanuts here. But when you walk???

I was coming back from the Al Corniche club, on the sea side, about 5, 8 minutes drive from the Hotel. Taxi who dropped me there told me "very easy to come back, you follow the seaside, 5m walk, and cross the road".

It was my first day, only too happy to walk, end of day, the night was starting to show its darkness, and off I go. And I'm walking, and I'm walking. And I arrive after about 25m, past the McDonald, but still no crossing. And I arrive in front of the Costa del Sol, and still no crossing or subway. And I pass the hotel, and no trace of traffic light or crossing.

I eventually stop a lady that, with a great smile, tells me "If you go this way, 2 miles next crossing. The other way, about 3 miles. Or you just cross".

Errrrrr, it's now complete darkness, I'm dressed in black, it's a 3 lanes highway with cars doing some 100km/hour. Of COURSE I'm going to cross...

So, I did what any lady would have done. I walked all the way back to the Al Corniche Club, and ordered a taxi. And as I stepped in the Hotel, Ahmed, bless his heart, reminded me that we were, like last year, allocated a Press Driver....



Kuwait Cup EN BREF #1
Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Kuwait Cup

FROM HK to KW....

Short turn around, that's for sure....

When I was informed by the Kuwait Tournament Office that booked my ticket from Hong Kong to KW that the only two flights were Emirates KW via Dubai at 00.35 or Qatar Airways via Doha at 0.45, we thought it was going to be a bit of a rush after the final....

Karim and Raneem were extremely thoughtful and kind enough to lose gracefully 3/0 - thanks guys, owe you one - which meant that we had a bit more time than originally planned.

James had a car that took him back to the hotel (you have to take the tunnel under the water to go back to Hong Kong), and went then back to the airport - the tunnel again plus about 45m drive), where he flew alongside Lee Beachill, Thierry, Greg, and Laurent Cossa from SquashTV.

Karim and Raneem were on the other flight, the Qatar one, same flight I was on. So Emily (the same lady that repaired my glasses bless her) booked us a mini-van for 9.30, and we all merrily went straight to the Airport, and flew to Qatar alongside Nick and Joey.

Joey, well, stopped at Qatar, as he injured his ankle while training with Chris Gordon in HK. Had to be rushed to hospital, and was very worried for his foot. The injury prevented him from attending as originally planned Kuwait then the London Open.

From Qatar, he took a flight to London, while Raneem flew back to Egypt.

The Hotel Costa del Sol, in the middle

Upon arrival in Kuwait, Ahmed's team was waiting for Lee, Laurent and myself to arrange for our visa - I did it on my own last year, and it was not a bundle of joy, I tell you - while the players already had theirs arranged.

The process took a little while, but our luggage were waiting for us by the time we finished and we were zoomed to the same lovely hotel as last year, Costa del Sol, where the food is delicious, the rooms airy, vast and comfortable and a little plus - free internet for all at all levels of the 23 storey building! As we just paid a heavy £200 bill in Hong Kong, that was a nice bonus.

Needless to say that we are all a bit shattered. Some of the players are jetlagged from HK, we also have Alister and Adrian flying from Pittsburgh - via Chicago, London, Bahrain after the 100m final, and other players flying from Europe - the young French Mat and Small Greg, English Boys Chris Simpson and Robbie Temple, etc.

We are not in the fresher state. But after one day of rest, a little visit to the Al Corniche club (more to follow on that one soon), a little walk on the sea side, we are starting to feel human again.

It's now 5am, we are starting the tournament in a few hours. If I was on my own last year, I'm delighted to be joined this year by Steve Cubs, and also Richard Eaton - who kindly proposed to help us on our coverage. Thanks for that young man.

Only prob. I'll have to share my driver with them two this year. You can't have it all...


... for Charity.

You may remember the little article I did in my En Brefs about the Hong Kong Football Club, and their amazing effort to raise money for under privileged kids - Operation Santa Klaus.

Well, they raised the bar a bit higher this year, and collected the amazing amount of 1.1 million HK dollars (as in roughly £110,000).

A big cheer for all those who participated, and don't you think the pink suits Thierry to a T?...

En Bref 11

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