THE JOURNEY BEGINS

The 30th of October 2008 has come and gone with much excitement and anticipation. This is the day that marked my departure from warmer African soil to the colder daylight hours with a German back-drop.  This is the day that has sent me to train in Germany for the next few weeks to prepare for the Women’s World Squash Championships held in Cairo Egypt. This is the day that has marked the beginning of a new season of finding out whether I have what it takes to compete against the best squash players in the world.

One of my many challenges that I am aware of, is that I will have to become familiar with the German language. While seating myself in the plane in Johannesburg heading to Cairo, I found out that the gentlemen next to me was from Madagascar, studying and working in Cairo. He spoke little English, but fluent in French and Arabic. These are the moments when I thank God for placing in me little desires to learn all sorts of things, even when I don’t see the immediate need for them – French is one of those. So, in my broken French (which seemed to improve over the 7 ½ hour trip), I was taught how to greet, say my name, yes & no, and thank you in Arabic  – phrases I am sure will come in handy at some point.

While waiting in the transit lounge in Cairo, this proved to be the case. I had to wait an hour for my hand luggage (the all important squash bag) to be delivered to me from the plane. You see, Egyptian Airline only allows 20kg of luggage, which is seriously low for a girl like me, but I did my best. In case my best wasn’t good enough, I was advised to travel in my SA Squash kit. This turned out a better strategy than I could have ever expected. Egyptian squash players are treated like soccer stars in their nation. Therefore, some of their benefits and methods of hospitality spilled over to little old me. I was not allowed to carry my squash bag off the plane by myself, but to wait for it to be delivered to the transit lounge. Fantastic!! Every person who played squash stopped me and told me their squash stories and which Egyptian squash player they have met. You see, 4 Egyptian men are Top 10 in the world, one of them being the world champion, and 3 Egyptian women are in the Top 23 in the world. So my little South Squash Badge elevated me to the same status as their heroes. Well…my  few moments of fame. No autographs signed though…hmmm…gotta work on that!

The flight to Dusseldorf, Germany was 4hrs 45minutes, and felt the urgent need to cram in some German phrases from my handy travel book. We’ll have to wait and see if this method works! My new coach, Wael, was quick to spot me at the airport (well… I guess a black girl wearing green and gold isn’t trying too hard to blend into the surroundings). He was very warm and welcoming, and also did well with crowd control since I had already two German supporters from the flight who were excited that international players were training in the small town of Paderborn. Watch this space…I could be in the newspapers here J !

So, to cut a very long story short (as I am very capable of babbling on – there will be more days to report), the trip from Dusseldorf to Paderborn is approxamitely 2 hours, but took a little longer due to raod works. The Germans think of everthing, but I’ll come back to this point some other time. The roadtrip gave me ample time to get to know my new coach, and vice versa. I met some of the players that are part of the Squash Academy, including the current German Champion, Simon Rosner. They seem like a bunch of laid-back, but hardworking guys. I’m sure they are all very curious about this South African girl who has taken the risk to train with their coach for a month, but once they realize I am not a big threat to them, or a threat to their time with their coach, I’m sure we will get along just fine.

Advertisements

One Response to “THE JOURNEY BEGINS”

  1. Yah, yah – but how did the first day of squash go :)…….SB

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: