For the 5th year on a row, I was a volunteer at the Yonex Belgian International Badminton Championships. I used to play badminton regularly myself but ever since I started working and since I started my graduate-degree, there hasn't been much time to play. But although I'm not playing anymore, I'm still organizing a couple of things.
Together with my buddy Koen, we form the EST (short for Event Support Team). We provide logistical support and know-how to clubs organizing large tournaments and championships.
But back on topic. The Yonex Belgian International, or YBI as we like to call it. This year was the 5th edition and I've been a part of the tournament from the start. During the first year (in 2005), I was a linejudge, in 2006 I combined line judging with volunteering when I was not on court. The year after that I stopped line judging and moved to the volunteers-team. Then in 2007, I was asked to join the organization-team, my responsibilities being the hall, preparations and logistics. I combined that job with writing the tournaments newspaper together with my sister. In 2008, someone took over the newspaper and I focussed on the hall and the preparations. But I didn't really like that job, it mainly meant sitting around all day, waiting for something to go wrong or to go and tell people that no, they could not put their bags there'. So after the '08-edition I told the rest of the team that I wanted to do something else. As 'luck' would have it, the guy who normally does all our IT and who also writes the 'newspaper' couldn't be there for this year's edition, so I got his job.
Fast forward to today, when the 5th edition has already past....
For me, the tournament started in Tuesday morning, when I met up with Tournament Director Bob to start moving stuff to the hall. Bob works for our main-sponsor Yonex Belgium (also known as Distrisport) and he already had a truckload of stuff with him when he picked me up. After dropping of the first load at De Nekker, we drove to the offices of the VBL (Vlaamse Badminton Liga) to pick up the rest. On Tuesday evening, we (Bob, An, Wendy, Danny, Koen and me) prepared the Gerflor badminton-courts (arranged them properly and rolled them off so they could 'rest' for the night).
On Thursday we had the qualification rounds and on friday the main draw. During those day, I spend most of my time in the tournament office, writing on the newspaper and helping players out with questions, taking photographs and interviewing people.
Saturday morning started with quarter finals, then an afternoon break while we re-arranged the hall and around 18h the semi-finals started. When the matches were over, the other volunteers started on the change-over the hall (I had to get my newspaper finished so I couldn't join them...). Sunday morning, the hall looked like this:
During the finals, I was by the side of the court, taking photographs :-), you can find my shots on flickr and bellow.
After the finals, the last stretch of hard work started, cleaning and packing everything up. By 21h we were done, had diner with the the team and everyone went home for some well deserved sleep. I had a great time once again, for the 5th year in a row, thanks to some awesome people! I'll be back next year!