It all started exactly how you’d expect a sports tour to start – oddly.
I don’t usually approach random men at the airport asking if they play netball, but it seems my only option in this particular pickle.
I’d arrived at Alicante airport in Spain with no sign of Ralph, the only other person I knew on the multi-team tour arranged by Playnetball, a London-based social club I played for every Tuesday.
Ralph and I were supposed to have been on the same flight but I’d not seen him on the plane and there was no sign of him at the luggage carousel.
A busy time at work meant I’d literally just hopped on the plane but with no other info of where to go once I’d arrived in Spain. Ralph had all that.
I tried calling him at the airport, to no avail, hence the approach to the random man.
Stranger danger… me in this case
The logic behind this was that he looked like he was part of a large group – good, eh?
After confirming that yes he played netball, yes he was there for the Javea netball tournament and no there wasn’t anyone on the trip he knew called Ralph I thanked the man I now know as Vin and tried to call Ralph again.
“I’m at the luggage carousel. Where are you?”
“At Gatwick,” replies Ralph. “I thought we were going to be on the same plane.”
“Me too,” said I, “Me too.”
A few hours later, Ralph and the rest of my actual team found me in a restaurant having a raucous old time with two-dozen similarly inebriated people.
The aforementioned Vin and his group had a spare seat on their minibus at the airport so off I went on the 50-mile trip to Javea, hanging out with this rival squad while they settled into their villa, before heading out to dinner.
What goes on tour…
And that, my friends, is the sort of thing that happens on a sports tour, at least to me.
You’re with like-minded souls who, on court, are either competitive as hell or else wear T-shirts announcing ‘competent netballers, champion drinkers’.
Off court, you party hard and suffer the consequences come the multitude of games the next day.
And the random guy I bumped into at the airport? We’re still friends to this day. Thanks for the lift Vin.For more Sport Travel pieces, click here. I know, that’s it!