Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Earthquakes & International Tournaments

Safe to say it’s been busy since my last post. To make the point of just how busy, I got to bed at 4:30am last night, and was up again at 6am, I've had naps at weddings longer than that.

Coming home at that hour and not being blind drunk was an incredibly strange experience – and in all honesty not one that I wish to repeat any time soon. However, do not misunderstand as I am not moaning here. Why? Because as I type, this is my view:

Obviously, I was looking right when I took this

Today is the opening day of the ICC East Asia Pacific Women’s Tournament, which is being hosted by Japan in my home city of Sano. I am currently watching Papua New Guinea take on the Cook Islands, having already seen the former put away Vanuatu by a fairly considerable margin.

The tournament got off to a sticky start when on the day the first people began to arrive we had the biggest Earthquake since I've been in Japan. According to this report from Sky News, it registered at 5.8 and was the first time I've thought seriously about getting out of the house (the first shudder was at 5am, the second was 20 minutes later and genuinely quite scary!). Still, it made for a good conversation starter for the folks fresh off the plane, especially those who'd never been out of their home country before.

Aside from the above teams and Japan, we also have Samoa and a charity side called Cricket Without Borders (CWOB) who have come over from Australia and are playing friendlies to give us an even number of teams thus ensuring there are always three games on at any one time. 

CWOB and Japan in Akishima last Monday
Upon returning from London I discovered that the guys in the office had been working until 2am on a regular basis, often going as late as 4am. I was pretty shocked by that, and it has continued, but does mean that we are, I think, putting on a decent show. After all image is everything in Japan.

Having landed on the Thursday and heading straight into work, I discovered there was a touring team over from Hong Kong who would be playing our women’s team five times over the weekend and who also required people to show them around the sights of Sano. Dhugal and I of course obliged, but this did lead to another karaoke experience which was even worse than the first.

The weekend after that we moved offices – out of the shoe box and into an old doctor’s surgery which is two storeys and I reckon maybe 15-20 times bigger than our previous digs. To say it’s a bit nicer would be a considerable understatement.

Darrell and Nobuko also came to visit that weekend, which remains the only proper day off I’ve had since my return, and naturally we spent it getting boozed and finding yet another game of cricket to watch.

Since then it’s been all go on this tournament, which brings me to my bleary eyes and foggy brain. The teams arrived on Monday, but there was a friendly in Tokyo between Japan and CWOB so we made what turned out to be the 14-hour round trip to watch that. The opening ceremony was yesterday and involved Kimono’s, Drums and Swords – in that order, but after closing just after 7pm our work really began.
The Japan girls looked pretty different to how I usually see them
I’m in the role of “Venue Manager” at a venue I had never previously seen a game of cricket played at and only visited once for about five minutes. We have three venues and had to set up all of them, which included tying sponsors flags to boards, erecting tents and moving about 3000 chairs in the back of someone’s car.

By 4am there were six of us stood in a circle, dawn breaking on the horizon but still chiefly lit by car headlights, each facing in the opposite direction with us highlighted in between and also shrouded in exhaust. It felt a bit like a scene from an old movie where the protagonists discuss how to divide the loot or where to bury the body. 

Under cover of darkness....
I had to be back here at 7am as the first game began at 9am and we still had to tidy a few things up and get the drinks in place. Since then it’s been a pretty constant stream of things not working, getting lost or just simply breaking, but so far it seems I’m the only person who’s really noticed so that’s a plus.

It’s good though. Weeks like this are why I took this job. The only downside is that my own project has suffered during these weeks because the guys have not been able to put the time in as the tournament has taken precedent. It’s frustrating, but it’s clear how important this competition is for Cricket in Japan, and the winners will go on to the World Cup Qualifiers next year so hopefully the Japan girls can get the win and keep moving upwards.

Of course, a number of people have been in touch after my marathon episode. Thanks for all the comments and well wishes. I really am fine, and have entered the ballot again for the race next year. Whether or not I actually end up running it remains to be seen, it’ll largely depend on where I’m living of course, as well as actually getting through the ballot.

If I do try again, I’ll follow the advice of pretty much everyone and see a specialist beforehand, to make sure that I won’t actually die trying. I’ve not been out for a run yet, although that’s largely been through laziness/lack of motivation than any great fear of collapsing in a heap. I have at least managed a couple of games of squash (lost for the first time last week…livid).

For now PNG are 43/0 off six, and give the Cook Islands were all out for 39 in their first match this morning I think this game might already have been decided, but it’ll be fun seeing how it goes – the enthusiasm on show alone makes the lack of slee……..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz