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World Cup Argentina 2013
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In the early hoursof Wednesday 6th November 2013 Mr Richards and I travelled up to head office ready to fly to Argentina, we arrived at around 9am, collected our tickets and the scoring  system and was taken to the airport by Mr Brunger and Miss Nicholls to catch the flight to Argentina via Miami, and after a slight hiccup with visas we boarded our flight.
After a very long but pleasant flight we were met at the airport by Master Maidana and taken to our hotel where we met with Master Nicholls who had arrived in Argentina the previous day for meetings with Master Gallarraga and other South American masters.
We then settled in to our hotel room and after a freshen up it was coffee with Master Nicholls and then off to see the tournament venue, as it was the world cup we were expecting a very impressive venue and we were not disappointed , five competition rings and the centre ring being on a raised platform, really good for the finals.
We then set up the scoring system on one ring and watched the well organised team set to work getting the venue ready.... just like home, at the UKITF championships it''s a well oiled machine with people all working together and somehow it comes together nicely, the umpires started arriving ready for the umpires meeting...all 149 of them !!!
Friday was the first day of competition and after setting up the scoring system to the other three rings it was our chance to see the junior, adult and senior kup grades compete and standards were high, with some really impressive performances in both patterns and sparring and plenty of competitors too, unfortunatley Master Nicholls had to fly back to England today so after he had said his goodbyes we then started to test the scoring system and source power leads so the system could be used for the Black Belts the following day.
Saturday arrived and back to the tournament at 8.30 am and a very prompt start , we instructed a group of 8 umpires on how to use the scoring system and they went back in two''s to their own teams and instructed the others with a little help from us and the brilliant young ladies who spoke very good English. Very soon all four rings were in action with the scoring system proving very popular,  it made everything very transparent and it was very easy to use. There were 500 black belt competitors and some excellent performances, and at 11.30 pm all the black belts had finished and we could eat !!
On the sunday morning we were treated to a sightseeing trip to Buenos Aires with Daniella and her daughter Michelle, it is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the world and we went to the cemetary where Eva Peron is buried as well as many other famous people. We had lunch by the river and then photo''s by the Woman Bridge after which we went back to the tournament. The under 12''s were competing today and there were nearly 700 children competing !! Needless to say this was going to be a late night as the team events started after the childrenat 7.30pm, we eventually finished and got back to the hotel at 1.30 am
Monday morning dawned (but not too early!! ) and a nice leisurely breakfast, then at lunchtime we went for a traditional Argentine barbecue with Master Gallarraga, Master Maidana, Mr Perez, Master Luis Borcas and Gabrielle, the national coach for Argentina, not like the barbecues we have at home, this one is in a restaurant with the most amazing meat !!!
After many discussions and much laughter we have realised that translations from Spanish to English and vice versa can lead to mis-interpretations of rules and we now feel much more comfortable with the true understanding of tournament rules and protocols.
Then it was time to head off to the airport for our flight home, we said our very sad goodbyes as this had really been the trip of a lifetime, the Masters, students, friends and families that we met could not have made us more welcome, our special thanks go to a young lady called Yasmine Lorenzo who went out of her way to make us feel welcome, we have learned so much from everyone and it is hoped from both sides that Argentina and England will continue to work closely together in the future.

Written by: Mark Richards - 7th January 2014

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