Travel · Travel Diaries: Work Edition

Tournament travel: Algiers, Algeria

The 2017 summer of handball tournaments began in Algiers, Algeria in July. The concentration of competitions taking place over the summer has meant a busy couple of months for me from July to September since 2015, when I covered my first Men’s Junior World Championship, followed by the Youth World Championship. This year the Junior World Championship was held in Algiers, after which I travelled to Tbilisi, Georgia for the Men’s Youth World Championship.

In Algiers we stayed in a hotel with an incredible view across the city, overlooking a concert venue which treated me to live music many nights after I had finished coverage for the day. One hot, sunny morning was spent exploring parts of the city on a guided tour, where we visited the Kasbah and the Matyr’s Memorial. The Memorial du Martyr Mujahid Museum was a sad, but interesting and clear highlight of the day and visit to Algiers overall.

Portfolio

Tour Amigo: Destination Guides project

One of my major projects this spring was writing for the updated Tour Amigo website. Tour Amigo is an Australian start-up made for those who like to travel on a tour, where you can enter your chosen destination(s) and receive a complete list of all itineraries that stop in those places from a variety of companies and operators including Contiki, TopDeck, Intrepid and many more.

I have been working with Tour Amigo since the middle of 2015, contributing posts for their travel blog regularly before the upgrade to their website earlier this year. This involved rewriting the previous destination guides to create three different SEO-ed sections on each nation.

Writing about travel is perhaps the most non-work feeling work there is. I wrote the content for almost 50 countries as part of this project, and learned so much about each of them — even those I knew well thanks to my own travels there. The original content was provided largely by former tour guides, who really knew their stuff after months or years of leading these itineraries.

If you would like to read a few samples of my work for this project, you can check them out below.

botswana-1957716_1280
Elephants in Botswana

Africa
BotswanaEgyptKenyaMalawiMoroccoNamibiaSouth AfricaTanzaniaUgandaZambia

Asia
IndiaLaosMyanmarNepalSri LankaVietnam

Central America
Costa RicaGuatemala

guatemala-2293062_1280
Weaving in Guatemala

South America
ArgentinaBoliviaChilePeruUruguay

Europe
AustriaBelgiumBosnia-HerzegovinaCroatiaCzech RepublicFranceGermany,
GreeceHungaryItalyMontenegroNetherlandsNorwayPolandPortugalRussia
Serbia
SlovakiaSloveniaSpainSwedenSwitzerlandTurkey

norway-2708286_1280Fjords in Norway

Oceania
AustraliaNew Zealand

All photos from Pixabay.com.

Travel Diaries: Work Edition

Tournament Travel: Hungary 2014

Last December, I reached the end of a full cycle of major international handball competitions. My very first, now more than two and a half years ago, was the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 in Hungary, where I was based in Györ, Debrecen then Budapest as journalist for the official website.

When I landed in Budapest, from where I would travel on to Györ by car, I had little idea of what to expect. And I have since learned that feeling does not go away no matter how many competitions I cover — while also learning I can always expect challenging, rewarding weeks that teach me so much I am a different person at the end. The other thing I found in Hungary, which has never disappointed me at any tournament, is that I will be surrounded by inspiring, smart, driven, fun people throughout all of it. Working in such an environment is a huge part of what makes those weeks from the first match to the trophy presentation so wonderful.

As it was December when the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 took place, Christmas markets lay in the centre of all three cities, making them even more appealing than they might be ordinarily. In general, Hungarian cities are beautiful, and the places I had not visited prior to this trip — Györ and Debrecen — did not disappoint. But this visit — my second of three so far to the capital — convinced me there is possibly no city that can compare with Budapest.

We had little time to explore in Budapest as we were only there for the final few days, but I did manage a scenic run one morning when I woke up before the sun, when I was able to run along the river up to the castle as the sunrise took place.

From the EHF EURO 2014, I went on to cover every IHF World Championship and senior EHF EURO since, though I stepped up to editor of the official website for EHF EURO at the last two events (Poland, January 2016; Sweden, December 2016) and hope to reprise that role in the future.

Portfolio

Women’s EHF EURO 2014

A collection of all the articles written by me during the Women’s EHF EURO 2014 in Hungary and Croatia. From December 3 to 22 I was based in Györ, Debrecen and Budapest covering Group A, Main Round Group I and the final weekend.

Features:
Neagu wraps it up for Romania
FEATURE: After a mixed tournament of surprise wins and disappointment, Romania’s Cristina Neagu talks about the EHF EURO 2014 from her perspective.

Tomori: “One person alone cannot replace Anita”
FEATURE: In the absence of Anita Görbicz, Hungary’s new captain Zsuzsanna Tomori is leading her national team through one of its most challenging tournaments, as the co-hosts face high expectations.

EHF Master Coach and Licensing Course concludes in Györ
The participants of the Open Master Coach and Licensing Course, including THW Kiel coach Alfred Gislason, received their qualifications as the course closed on Saturday.

Dmitrieva’s flawless debut
NEWS REPORT: 19-year-old Daria Dmitrieva was top scorer of the match and best player for Russia in her first official international on Sunday.

Huge coverage and exciting arenas
NEWS REPORT: The Women’s EHF EURO 2014 was officially opened in Györ on Sunday with a press conference attended by representatives of the EHF and the Hungarian Handball Federation.

Final stage of EHF Master Coach and Licensing Course opens
EHF President Jean Brihault opened the third and final module of the EHF RINCK Convention Open Master Coach and Licensing Course in Györ on Saturday.

Match previews and reviews:
Norway win sixth EHF EURO gold
REVIEW: Norway claimed their sixth EHF EURO title in Budapest on Sunday, defeating Spain 28:25 thanks to a strong second half after trailing by two at half-time.

A chance to make history
PREVIEW: When Spain take to the court against Norway for the EHF EURO 2014 Final, they have the opportunity to win gold for the first time – and they are ready to grab that chance.

Handball media take their turn on the court
The EHF EURO 2014 handball media took to the court on Saturday for an entertaining match featuring two goalkeepers in shorts, horror movie theme music and dancing referees.

France too strong for Hungary
REVIEW: France won fifth place in the final EHF EURO 2014 ranking with a 26:25 victory against Hungary in Budapest on Friday.

‘Guerreras’ stun Denmark to take semi-final spot
MATCH REVIEW: A deserved 29:22 win against Denmark in Debrecen on Wednesday earned Spain the remaining semi-final ticket from Main Round Group I.

Denmark and Spain fight for Budapest
PREVIEW: When the final EHF EURO 2014 Main Round matches take place in Debrecen on Wednesday, all eyes will be on Denmark and Spain as they fight for Group I’s remaining semi-final spot.

Hungary’s hopes crushed after defeat against Denmark
MATCH REVIEW: Strategic Denmark have ended Hungary’s dreams of reaching the semi-final, defeating the EHF EURO 2014 co-hosts 23:20 in Main Round Group I in Debrecen.

Ungureanu brilliance helps Romania shock Spain
MATCH REVIEW: Romania have won the first of Group I’s second round matches on Monday, defeating Spain 22:20 in an outstanding defensive and goalkeeping battle.

Norway start main round with a thrilling victory
MATCH REVIEW: Norway emerged the victors in Group I’s second main round match on Saturday, recording a 29:26 win against Spain as their unbeaten EHF EURO 2014 run continues.

The main round begins with big matches in Debrecen
PREVIEW: Undefeated Spain and Norway will meet in their first match of the main round when the next phase of the tournament begins on Saturday.

Spain pull off thrilling win against Hungary
MATCH REVIEW: Spain have taken the last two points up for grabs in Group A thanks to a thrilling 27:26 victory over Hungary.

Determined Poland through to main round
MATCH REVIEW: Russia are out of the EHF EURO and Poland progress to the main round after taking a 29:26 win in a very physical Group A match.

Hungary show their true form and qualify for the main round
MATCH REVIEW: Fans in Audi Arena had something to celebrate on Tuesday as Hungary recorded a 29:23 win against Poland, booking Group A’s second ticket to the main round.

Spain first in Group A to make it to main round
MATCH REVIEW: Tuesday’s first Group A match ended with a 25:24 victory to Spain, who have now qualified for the main round and leave Russia to determine their fate on Thursday.

Russia keen to build on promising draw
PREVIEW: Close matches are expected in Tuesday’s Group A matches, while wins for Norway and Denmark could secure two of Group B’s main round spots for the Scandinavian sides.

Tense match between Hungary and Russia ends in a draw
MATCH REVIEW: Hungary began their EHF EURO 2014 campaign with an exciting 29:29 draw against Group A opponent Russia in Györ on Sunday.

Spain unstoppable against Poland
MATCH REVIEW: Spain recorded a 29:22 win against Poland in the opening Women’s EHF EURO 2014 Group A match in Györ on Sunday.

Travel · Travel Diaries: Work Edition

Tournament Travel: Denmark 2015

In December 2015 I travelled back to Denmark – my first home outside Australia – for the 22nd IHF Women’s World Championship. I was based in Kolding then Herning, which was right near the town I once lived in: Ikast, and therefore full of memories and familiar, somewhat dodgy Chinese restaurants.

It had been almost 10 years since I arrived in Ikast as a young hopeful handball player, and I had not been back since leaving, so even walking past familiar landmarks in Herning was wild. Some people complain that Herning is a boring place to be based for a tournament, as many of my colleagues have spent long weeks covering more than one championship there, but I was satisfied simply to find my favourite Danish candy and snacks.

Although the tournament was one of the busiest, it was wonderful to work with the female players. It’s a very different experience interviewing the men and women, and I found many interesting stories – the Tunisian captain who was retiring after 16 years in the national team, Christiane Mwasesa from DR Congo, who is the best-known star from her country and a total sweetheart (though I had to interview her with translation assistance from one of her helpful teammates), and the big-name players I interviewed about their path to the top.

All of my articles written during Denmark 2015 can be found here

Portfolio · Work

22nd IHF Women’s World Championship, Denmark 2015

A collection of my articles written during the 22nd IHF Women’s Handball World Championship held in Denmark in December 2015. From December 3 to 21 I was based in Kolding then Herning, covering preliminary round Groups A and C, the knock-out round and finals. 

Features and interviews:
The Influence of Positive Coaching at Denmark 2015
Denmark 2015: Coaches, players and psychologists discuss the importance of a positive, equal relationship between athletes and their coaches.

To the stars of tomorrow
Denmark 2015: Bulatovic, Gullden, Achruk and Chebbah share their advice and stories about how to make it to the top.

“I feel that we can do more”
Denmark 2015: Romania knocked out hosts Denmark to secure their place in the Semi-Finals, but they are not done yet.

“We play with heart; we play for our country”
Denmark 2015: Poland’s Kinga Achruk talks about their Eighth-Final win against Hungary, and the importance of the bond within the team.

Toumi Bids Farewell to the Tunisia Jersey
Denmark 2015: After an incredible 18 years representing Tunisia, Raja Toumi played her final match for her country in Herning on Monday.

The story of Mwasesa
Denmark 2015: The story of a girl from DR Congo, who became one of the most successful players in the French league and the captain of her national team.

“Physical strength will be the key to success”
Denmark 2015: Korea coach Young Chul Lim talks tactics, the future of his team and the road to Rio 2016.

The Group Phase Wrap-Up
Denmark 2015: Summary and key statistics as the final matches of the preliminary round finish and the knock-out round begins.

Argentina’s Big Year Continues
Denmark 2015: This year Argentina have celebrated two Olympic qualifications, and increasingly stronger performances from their national teams.

Kolding welcomes the handball world
Denmark 2015: The city of Kolding adds the 2015 IHF Women’s World Championship to its already strong history of handball-mania.

Continued Focus on Pivot Contact at Denmark 2015
The final countdown for the 22nd IHF Women’s World Championship has begun as referees complete their last preparations.

Previews and reviews:
Grimsbø Shines as Norway Claim the Title
Denmark 2015: Norway defeat the Netherlands to become world champions and the holders of all three major international titles for the second time.

Neagu Leads Romania to Bronze
Denmark 2015: Romania continued their strong form to claim the bronze medal with a big win against Poland.

Netherlands Debut in Final Against Experienced Norway
Denmark 2015: The Final promises a fast-paced 60 minutes between the Olympic and European champions and rampaging Netherlands.

Norway Win 70-Minute Contest for Final
Denmark 2015: Norway defeat Romania in extra time to book their place in the Final, where they will meet the Netherlands.

Romania take on the Olympic champions
Denmark 2015: The second Semi-Final at the 22nd IHF Women’s Handball World Championship sees Romania meet Norway in the battle for the Final.

Poland and Romania Through to Semi-Finals
Denmark 2015: Poland and Romania record one-goal wins with electric performances in their Quarter-Finals, against the Russian Federation and Denmark.

Quarter-Finals Preview: Herning
Denmark 2015: The Quarter-Final matches in Jyske Bank BOXEN see Poland meet the undefeated Russian Federation and Romania take on hosts Denmark.

Poland and Montenegro Book Quarter-Final Spots
Denmark 2015: The first Eighth-Final in Herning ends in a victory for Poland, before Montenegro knock out Angola with a big win.

Eighth-Finals Preview: Monday 14 December
Denmark 2015: Poland play in-form Hungary, Angola meet Montenegro, Spain and France expect a high-voltage 60 minutes and Korea take on the might of Russia.

Eighth-Finals Review: Kolding and Herning
Denmark 2015: The hosts knock Sweden out in the all-Scandinavian Eighth-Final, and Romania shock Brazil to snatch a Quarter-Final berth.

Group C Review: Friday 11 December
Denmark 2015: Korea claim the last remaining Eighth-Finals spot, Brazil secure first place in the group and Germany defeat DR Congo.

Group A Review: Friday 11 December
Denmark 2015: Montenegro secure first place with a win against Denmark, Hungary finish second and Serbia are fourth as Group A wraps up.

Group A Preview: Friday 11 December
Denmark 2015: On the last day of group phase matches, Montenegro, Hungary and Denmark all have the chance to top the table.

Group C Preview: Friday 11 December
Denmark 2015: France and Brazil battle for the top spot, Korea face Argentina in a must-win match and Germany look set for a win against DR Congo.

Travel · Work

Tournament travel: France 2017

When I departed Amsterdam for France the calendar was only a couple of days shy of my two-year anniversary with the IHF. It was on January 11, 2015 that I flew from London to Doha for my first Men’s World Championship, and just two years before that I was buying a ticket for the final of the same event thinking I would never have the chance to do so live again.

After a complete two-year cycle of tournaments, I felt like a very different person travelling to France from the one that arrived in Qatar at the beginning of 2015.

Immediately, everything in Paris was incredible: The hotel located adjacent to the Eiffel Tower, the light show on the Arc de Triomphe to launch the event, the opening press conference with beautiful views at the Institut du Monde Arabe, the picturesque drive to the arena along the Seine every day, the level of organisation in a country with such a different handball culture from my own, and work in general – helpful teams and officials that made my job so easy, interesting stories, and surprises on the court that kept things interesting.

Paris was my home for three wonderful weeks and I had a little opportunity to explore and visit my favourite shops (where I purchased too many books to be considered a smart traveller), but all too soon it was over. The teams were whittled down from 24 to two for the final, after which we heard the triumphant French anthem once again – though this time I had an operatic version sung by Philippe Gardent (former French player and world champion) booming from behind me.

All of my articles written during France 2017 can be found here.