After having a successful first Supervisor appointment in Norway in December, courtesy of the Norwegian Volleyball Federation, my next official CEV appointment took me to Moscow in February. It was my first time in Russia. An early start of 6 am in Edinburgh, saw me arrive via Brussels, in Moscow at 5 pm. Seems a long trip, but Moscow are 4 hours ahead of us. Heavy security at Moscow, I was 10 minutes at passport booth, answering questions, the only thing they didn’t stamp was my foot!!
The match was a women’s Challenge Cup Quarter final, between the hosts Odintsovo, previous Champions League runners up and Sliedrecht, who are currently top of the Dutch first division. It took place at the ‘Volleyball Sports Centre, and as the name suggests, this is a custom built centre, only for the sport of volleyball. It is a superb centre, seating 3,500 spectators.
My first duties on arrival day were to Chair the Preliminary Enquiry at 9 pm and the Technical Meeting at 10 pm. I had two reports to compile and send to CEV, via the CEV Database. No problems with any of the team’s submitted paperwork. Met up with the referees – Todorov from Bulgaria and Sophocleous from Cyprus. Sophocleus is coming to Scotland in June for the Senior Women’s tournament at Perth.
My hotel was at the edge of a picturesque square. The Hotel Olympian, quite fitting after my 2012 exploits. It was only 500 yards walk from the Sports Centre. The square was totally snow covered, with people skating on the frozen lake. Believe it or not, there was a women skating, while pushing a pram. Don’t know if there was a baby iin the pram or maybe her shopping! Adjacent to the lake was the National Ice Hockey Arena. Temperature for my 3 day stay was minus 10 on average. I was in a 3 star hotel but very modern. Next door was a massive hotel ‘The Magnificent Seven’ – it was a Best Western!!
At dinner, the night before match day, Krassimir Todorov, the first referee, informed me that he was also the President of Lyon Volleyball Club. I immediately thought, Mark McGivern and within 5 minutes Krassimir had passed me his phone and I was talking to Mark. We had a long chat about his participation this summer for the National Team and he was keen to be on board.
After a typical Russian breakfast, we headed for the Sports Hall, where my next duty was to do the Inspection Report, initially a checklist, then transfer of details to the online database, which is sent to CEV. As previously stated, the hall was kitted out superbly for a volleyball match. All equipment and banners in place, it looked fantastic. Then I noticed, the flag that they had draped for the Dutch team was actually the flag of Luxembourg. The blue at the bottom of the flag was sky blue and not dark blue. After some gentle persuasion, I managed to get the hall organiser to change it to the proper flag, which they did within 30 minutes.
We asked for a trip into Moscow, after lunch, but were told that it would take 2 hours by car, on gridlocked Moscow roads, and the metro didn’t come out as far as our location (we were about 20 miles from the centre). As the match was due at 7 pm, we decided to stay put in Odintsovo.
The match ended up being pretty one sided, lasting 70 minutes and being won by the home team 3-0. There was a crowd of around 800, which made the hall, look rather empty, but they were a noisy bunch, so not too bad an atmosphere. My chair was like the master mind chair, only with more padding. They had small flags on my table representing the countries of the referees and the supervisor. The e-scoring was all done to a high standard, and there were no incidents in the match that needed sorting out. The nearest I got to a ‘rammy’, was when the Dutch team ran out of bottled water, which I soon put right. Last job for me was to do a final match report through the database, which was pretty straightforward, as the organisation of the match was to a high standard and the refereeing was excellent.
Went for a long walk, the following morning, then lunch with Sergey, the Organisational Director. Then it was a 2 hour journey to the airport, passing by miles and miles of high rise flats interspersed with factories belching out tons of smoke. The laws on emissions seem to be different in Russia, I think. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Russia. The work I had to do was made a lot easier by the excellent organisation of the home club. The only disappointment was not to see the centre of Moscow, but hey, we’re not tourists, we have a job to do!!
CEV Technical Delegate