2013 Cyprus Cup was is finally coming to an end - here's a longish re-cap of the weeks
It was a late call for me to get here this year, but thanks to Facebook - well a message via Facebook - I did eventually choose to book the travels here. But there was a small hitch in the plans, the BBL Trophy Final in Glasgow on the Saturday in the middle of Cyprus Cup - something I could not miss covering either, but we'll get to that later.
Monday the 4th, drive up to Manchester and catch the 'pensioner express' to Pafos - quiet flight and once landed, a long drive to the accommodation to Larnaca. Why fly to Pafos then you ask?? Well, I needed to catch the last available flight away from Cyprus on Friday, which happens to be the flight from Pafos to Manchester. Cypriot roads tend to me nice and empty around 10pm - so an enjoyable drive.
It was straight to work on the Tuesday, training session for Finland - few familiar faces in the team, and many new ones. The first week followed a pattern of training - game day - training - game day.. The area I was staying at was definitely designed mainly for tourists, and this being still the off-season - it was rather quiet and during the evenings the restaurants seemed very empty. Nice little take away around the corner though, with a friendly Spurs fan cooking up the meals, we had few football chats during the weeks here.
Friday was quickly approaching, and that meant a hectic day for me. First it was the morning game to cover, the Canada-Finland later on - from which I had to shoot off early, and make a mad drive across the island in the rental Chevrolet Matiz (not a car you expect to reach 100km/h speeds. So without a map/sat-nav - I just hope I won't take any wrong turns, as there isn't much time to spare. Arrive to the airport in Pafos, only hand luggage, so walk through the security - sit down and... "Your EasyJet flight... is ready for boarding"
Back in Manchester around midnight, check into a road side hotel - meet up with Mr Mansoor in the morning and drive the three hours to Glasgow. Straight to setting the lights at the Arena, and then it's six hours of photography full-on. Quick edit and send the pictures to clients - and head down south again. Drop Mansoor off at J31 and continue down to home - where I arrive just before 1am. About 6 hours of sleep, and then drive off to Gatwick to catch a flight back to Cyprus, luckily this time I have my wife keeping me company as she joins me for the second week in Cyprus. (by now - some of you must have your head spinning with the comings and goings).
Arrive to Larnaca airport around 7pm - still nice and warm, back to the same apartment as week one. It almost feels like I am coming 'home' here, and just had a quick job in the UK to cover. Maybe the warm and sunny weather has something to do with me at least wanting this to be home :-) Take-away from my little Spurs fan again, who isn't too happy today (Spurs had lost to Liverpool) - although the fact that QPR are still in the relegation zone seems to keep him smiling.
No rest for me thought, I spent the whole flight editing images from the BBL trophy Final - and continued that during Monday morning at the hotel. Get those finished, and then it is straight to the next games over in Larnaca GZS Stadium, with Finland - although I do manage an earlier game between England and New Zealand in Nicosia. And this was good, as I had 'hidden' my Monopod and Camping Chair to the parking lot of the Nicosia stadium, as those were something I couldn't take with me as hand luggage. So the excitement was on, would I still have them waiting for me.. or had someone found them?? And low and behold - there they were, right where I had left them. Either the Cypriot are very honest, or I had hidden them well enough :-)
Next couple of days have more games, more walks on the beach and plenty of sunshine.. covering the games is tough at both kick-off times. The day games have the strong sun to contend with, and shooting into the sun is not much fun. Evening games on the other hand have the floodlights to think about, and at least in one stadium they create 'dark spots' - making it hard to photograph from certain positions. Also - day time games you shoot in shorts and t-shirs - evening games you wrap up in couple of layers of clothing.
Tuesday I manage to get access to England training session, as well as been granted time to talk to couple of Birmingham City Ladies players at their hotel - good to catch up with few Blues players (who will see me more than enough in the coming months...). Wednesday is 'Final's Day' - with Finland playing at the furthest venue possible, which in Cyprus means a 40 minute drive from the Hotel - makes my Glasgow to Worcester drive seem.. well...
Final game is England vs Canada - some English school kids get excited to the 'camera man'. They ask who I support.. I say that neither team really.. then they ask me where I am from.. Finland seems to make couple of them baffled.. but luckily at least one of them knows where/what Finland is. Then they ask me to say 'England'... not quite sure why.. but once I say that I live in England.. I seem to get their approval and be left in peace :-)
Final once again is the only game that sees more photographers attending it, game itself isn't a classic - 1-0 to England and that's the end of the tournament. Thursday is spent editing last images, sending them to clients - making sure everyone is taken care of. Then in the evening it is time to relax, and go and enjoy a nice steak at HOBO's - well worth it if you come to visit Cyprus. Then an evening movie on one of the few English language channels on out TV "Dubai One' - Jim Carrey movie on Thursday.. 'Number 23'.
Friday - travel day again. Going to check out from the Hotel soon, head to Nicosia for the day, evening flight back home and drive from Gatwick... and Saturday sees me back to BBL duties at Heat vs Riders.