Have you ever dreamt that you are in an exam only to open the paper and find that you have studied for the wrong subject. Worst still, you have been chosen to play for Manchester United in their most important match of the season and once out onto the pitch in front of thousands of screaming fans, you realize that you can’t pass the ball properly let alone tackle or score a goal. Unfortunately for me, this nightmare actually came true, when I was chosen to represent Spain in the World Soft Tennis Champsionships in Korea.
On arrival, we were greeted by hundreds of fervent supporters, who waved flags, chanted “we love you”, jostled with each other to carry our bags. My aim had been simple, loose badly in the first round and just go for the free holiday. No one would see the epic defeat, my humiliation would be kept between myself and my opponent, a dirty secret kept thankfully due to any victors lack of thought space for the looser. As reporters fought to get the first interview and flowers were thrust into our hands, I suddenly felt a feeling of dread and guilt rise from the pit of my stomach. So much effort had been put into the Championships, and the people had so much pride in this sport, as my team mates elaborated to the press on their chances of success at the tournament, I couldn’t help think of my last practice and the balls which had gone flying out of the court and into the parking lot. All I could do was hope for a miracle.
When the crowds were distanced from the coach, we drove South to Anseong to our 5* Hotel, the Lake Hills Golf Hotel. On route we stopped off for a welcome buffet lunch (food all quite wierd), in a beautiful park with great views, carved trees and sculptures.
I was told afterwards that Soft Tennis is played by over 30 million people in Asia and that by including other federations in the World Championships, they would get international recognition which is needed in order for a sport to be eligible for Olympic status.