Pre Season Tours Can Be So Boring!

23 07 2009

This is something that I can readily identify with! Having been on tour with the Australian National Football team for over 12 years you can be assured that overseas travel is not as glamorous as people may imagine it to be.

Sure, there are the five star hotels, the fans who treat you like a movie star and so on…and I was not even a player but just one of the officials!

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Once you get over those things however, you start asking yourself what about the hugs that you don’t get from your kids or the company of your wife that you miss so much? What about being able to go to your own fridge at home and grabbing a handful of olives, a few biscuits from the cupboard or a cake that your wife has baked for you?

Believe me, travelling all over the world is obviously exciting for a little while but nothing beats being with your family at home.

You are woken up, go for breakfast, then back to your room. Prepare for a morning training session, back to the hotel before going for lunch. Return to your room again for a nap, get up, have a chat with your team mates then go for dinner. More chatting or a game of cards then off to bed before facing the same routine the next day.

It’s a little for more entertaining for coaches and other officials. They can go to the hotel’s bar for a few hours after dinner, enjoy a few drinks while talking football with journalists and TV pundits before retiring for the night.

Training sessions and match days are the highlights of the day for most players. The majority of them enjoy the experience of  their tour, even the boring ones. There has to be others however who have done it so many times that the question becomes “When does enough become enough?”

Can anybody really blame them?

Manchester United Hit By Boredom

Daily Telegraph, Mark Ogden in Kuala Lumpur, 21st July

It never rains but it pours.  For those Manchester United players growing increasingly frustrated and restless at being locked away in their luxury hotel rooms for hours on end in Kuala Lumpur, today’s wet and miserable conditions in the Malaysian capital, on the players’ first day off on tour, will only add to the sense of cabin fever being felt by Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad.

Following the cancellation of the Indonesian leg of the club’s Far East tour as a result of Friday’s bomb attacks in Jakarta, United’s players are now spending their fifth day in Kuala Lumpur’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Located next door to Kuala Lumpur’s iconic Petronas Towers and in the heart of a typically bustling Asian city, the likes of Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen and co. are unable to wander freely around the many shopping malls or take in the local sights to avoid being bombarded by enthusiastic fans.

Since their arrival last Friday, the United camp has been billeted on its own floor in the Mandarin Oriental, away from the supporters and autograph hunters who spend hours in the hotel lobby attempting to grab a glimpse of their idols.

A hotel spokesman, speaking in the Malaysian newspaper The Star said: “Security has been tight and the players even take their meals in non-public areas.”

It is a tale of DVD’s, iPods and sheer mind-numbing boredom for the majority of the players once they have done their training for the day.

Some are lucky enough to be selected for charity or sponsor events, which are viewed as precious opportunities to escape the hotel for just a couple of hours. But those left behind have little else to do, other than run up phone bills, but even attempts to call home are hampered by the + 7 hour time difference.

Today was due to be golf day for the players, but the weather has taken the shine off that plan.

Although most will still head for the course, it won’t be so much fun with the rain pouring down. Other than the oppressive humidity – a clingy 89 per cent today – the United contingent could be fooled for believing they were already back in Manchester.

That will not be the case until July 31, though. From Kuala Lumpur, the team heads to Seoul on the club’s private plane on Wednesday – on a draining seven-hour flight – before further stops in Hangzhou and Munich.

So just another week-and-a-half of films, long hours and airport VIP lounges.

Still, the scene will change when United land in South Korea on Wednesday morning.

Thanks largely to the presence of Ji-Sung Park, but not exclusively so, United are immensely popular in South Korea.

When they visited Seoul in 2007, the team’s Shilla Hotel base was swamped by supporters, many of whom camped outside the hotel day and night just to catch a fleeting glimpse of Ferguson’s team.

It will be the same again this time and will make Kuala Lumpur seem like a gentle warm-up.

But the players will still be confined to base, kicking their heels and killing time.

Some will argue that it is a small price to pay for those players earning the kind of salaries that most can only dream of.

But when boredom sets in, even the most expensive gadgets lose their appeal after a while.

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