• Wadi Degla PSA World Squash Champs  • 25-Oct to 04-Nov 2016 • Cairo, Egypt •  

 EN BREF #2: The reasons of success     #1: Bumpy to Dusit smooth
 Everything you never knew you needed to know about the Wadi Degla World Champs ...

LE MOT DE LA FIN

A long, intense but terribly successful event… I’m not going to pretend this event has been a bundle of laughs from beginning to end.

It would be ridiculous and nobody would believe it.

When you have two rounds of qualifying, four matches at the time, followed by 31 matches in one day (only 31 as Tom Richards forfeited, ill), four matches at a time, and five at 6pm, followed by another event – a $50k women's – starting as you are starting to hope things are going to calm down - one is bound to feel like closing the laptop, leaving the bags behind and throw oneself in the Nile to forget it all.

That happened a few times in the first part of the event....

So easy, it was not. But successful, highly and definitely successful, it was.

REASONS OF A SUCCESS...

The location

It was un “coup de maître” I would say from the organising team – as in Wadi Degla Mister Big Mr Hassan El Mistikawy, supported by the Minister of Sports, Mr Khaled Abdel Aziz, and the W.D. Famous Pair Karim Darwish and Ahmad Bassam – to choose that Wadi Degla Club in New Cairo, along with the Hotel Dusit. Why?

Because they took out one of the major troubles in Cairo, the traffic.

Situated next to the Airport, New Cairo, a new area of Cairo officially called a town in 1989, is free from traffic. You may have a bit of slowing down here and there at rush hour, but it nothing, absolutely nothing compared to the normal Cairo Traffic which is absolutely horrendous.

The Hotel

Other reason of the success.  by far in my opinion, the best hotel squash ever provided in Egypt. Like I said in my previous en bref, I’m in love with the place, and could have stayed it forever with nooooo trouble.

The Shuttle Service

Excellent service, perfectly on time, well run, with always a second bus ready in case the first one was full. Every forty-five minutes at the start of the event, when we had plenty of players/officials, then once per hour.

For the return late at night, same. Never had to take a taxi or a Uber the whole time. Perfectly run, and extremely helfpul.

The Club's Traditional Courts

If we did the Women’s worlds in Wadi Degla Maadi, the first ever Wadi Degla built in 2002, this time round, we were in a club called El Nakheel, built in 2007, at about 20m tops from the Hotel. Which for Cairo is NOTHING!!!

The club has 8 courts, 7 in a line – that’s the ones we used during the event, and one on its own, the Doubles court, that was used as a Players’ Lounge, warm up stretching area.

In my humble opinion, the way the courts were aligned, and the extremely convenient seating throughout the club is a huuuuuuge part of the feasibility/success of the event in the first part of the tournament.

It was easy for us media to go from one court to the next, without disturbing play or spectators. The Refs were not too far away from the courts and in good position height wise. The players had plenty of space before the matches, during the games to chat with their coaches as there was always one court between the court in use.

Clever, and practical.

The food/drinks

This is again a big part of an event success or failure. Every day, in the press room, we had hot water, tea and coffee available. Ahmed gave me an open bill to the CornerShop next door – and it’s not a figure of speech, it was next door – for little snacks/soft drinks and for the officials/media, we had food vouchers to the buffet about 20m away. Convenient for sure, luxury really…

It makes such a huge difference for the people that actually work for the event.

Huge.


Mohamed bringing the food into the PressRoom for us...




We didn’t have much time to wander around the premises but I managed to have a little hour, just walking around the place, the football ground, then up the stairs, with a huge swimming pool, lovely gardens, a lovely little pound – like in Wadi Degla Maadi – with a little bridge over it, plenty of places to sit with little drinks/food outlets everywhere, with waiters always ready to come and deliver food/drinks to you.

From real food – grilled meat and pizzas – to snacks or candy floss, popcorn, real fruit juice, you can get anything at any time really.

For the kids, plenty of activities, I saw Judo and Taekwondo outfits, ballet, gym, squash, tennis, that’s just what I saw! And also a little cinema in 3D for them, with special films for their entertainment! Not to mention plenty of shops – I was able to recharge my Orange Wifi connection for example – clothes, sports gear, ATM… And I didn’t get the chance to get to the main building!!!

So much to see. Next time inshallah.
 

Security

Yes, there was plenty of that. We had our bags searched, again and again, metal detectors at every corner, police escort with the shuttles. Heavy police presence on the premises. I know it makes the players/official feel secure. If that make them feel good, that’s nice.

May I just say that in the past two years, my compatriots in France have been gunned down at a football match, in a concert, at different terraces of café, in a newspaper meeting room, and at a grocery shop round the corner.

Here in Egypt? Not that much. Life as usual.

The only thing I will keep on saying on the subject is "I’m blond, I’m a Christian, I’m French, I’m a woman, and I am safe in Cairo." Nuff said.

Organisation at The Glasscourt

The Tournament Staff was superb. We had about 20 security/order people at the gate/courts that made sure only the authorised people could go in the protected areas, and about 30 young helpers making sure that the crowd were sitting in the correct areas, not moving during play, that the kids were not making too much noise or nuisance for the players/crowd – they are sometimes a bit enthusiastic bless them, we love them to bits – that nobody would use mobile phones, and would chase flashlights like hawks!

That was the first time ever I saw a chain of people making sure that nobody, and I mean NOBODY would use flashes. And that made again a huge difference.

There were no proper seats, just big stairs like seating areas, and at first sight, I thought it could be a problem. But it wasn’t. A few stickers at the right place for coaches, and media. And for the rest, everybody seemed to find a place.

They initially thought there was space for 900 people, but somehow, 2,000 people managed to find a spot on finals night. How they managed to get in as it was all sold out is another matter … what’s important is that it was full.

What was priceless for us, was the location of our work table at the glass. We were literally seconds from the glass, and just in front of the SquashTV screen - a fact I wasn't aware of when I chose the location, as it was before it was installed.

It allowed me to write the quotes/reports during the first game of the following match, without missing too much of the action, and then rush back to my spot again, not disturbing anybody, no stairs to climb - the 4th surgery on the knees didn't work, thanks for asking...

PERFECT!


Which leads me to the next point of success. The crowd.

If twenty years ago, the Egyptian crowd was feared by foreign players, as there are reported incidents of not pleasant attitude, this has now stopped. The Egyptian Crowd is, I’m not afraid to say, the best in the world.

They a
re extremely knowledgeable, from the young kids to the basic spectator, they recognise their stroke from their no lets, and can spot a block or a fake injury in a flash.

They appreciate a good shot from a player, whatever country he is from, and if they support their men/women, they are always fair and respect the foreign player. And they are vocal! Which is nice, as there is nothing worse than a silent crowd.

From the first day to the last, we had a lot of people, atmosphere was great from Day One on the glass – it was very lively too on the traditional courts from the first day of the qualifying – and again, for the players, that’s huge.

They are performers. They are gladiators. They kill themselves for us, every time they get on court. And it’s immense for them to fight for an audience, not just for ranking points or pride...

From a personal point of you,  the collaboration between SquashSite – who were running the official website – and PSA press office has been perfect once again, and creates a win win situation, with all parts getting the best coverage possible for such a huge event. Couldn’t have done it with Nathan Clarke and Sean Reuthe. Merci à vous deux.

Needless to say that Steve Cubbins did wonders, as ever. His tweeting magic, his photos and his relentless work did the trick and make our coverage that much more special - sorry for blowing our own horn...

As ever, what would we have done without Tamer Mamdouh – who kept switching between the hotel and the glasscourt, helpful and efficient, not to mention adorable or Mohamed Elshrkawy from the Rotary, who kept finding solutions to every problem that was thrown at him, and with a smile, if you please.

The Wadi Degla social media marketing team was very enthusiastic, and brought their squash passion to the mix, and I particularly appreciated the help, support, smile and kindness of Fadi Raouf. A new friend in the making

But the event was run “de main de maître” by Karim Darwish – the Biiiiiiiig Boss
. Didn’t see much of him as he was constantly solicited by dozens of people every minute of the day, and Ahmad Bassam, who sorted out everything, all the time, and with a smile.

So, there you have it. The reasons of success. This event was a smash hit. Can’t wait for Karim’s team to organise another event.

This is the Frog, signing off… Next stop, Qatar…

#1: from Bumpy to Dusit smooth

 

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