Diary of a national traitor at the FIFA Under 17 World Cup – Day 5. Matchday 1

Saturday 19th October 2013

KFC watch day five. I finally grew a pair and told the tournament staff member that I wouldn’t be ordering any more KFC for him. Five days in, I can safely say I have more important things to do than be the middle man between a man and his spicy fried chicken. With spicy fries. And Miranda to drink. It did take me a live demonstration using me, him and a local volunteer to show him that life would simply be easier for both of us if he just cut me out and ordered his food straight from the restaurant with his own phone.

We had our breakfast as usual and the players seem relaxed but extremely focussed. A Nigerian restaurant owner based at Al Nasr stadium in Dubai managed to get in touch with me last night and asked for a bus to transport approximately 100 fans from Dubai to the game, which should help make for a good atmosphere. If anyone saw the first game between Brazil and Slovakia, you would have seen an International tournament being played in front of a handful of fans, which undoubtedly did not go down with either FIFA or the Local Organising Committee. Since then, all organisers have been keen to spread the news that they are willing to provide free buses to  transport  groups of fans of any teams to their games, which is exactly what these 100 Nigerian fans will be getting. It’s a bit of a shame it’s come to this, even if it is a generous gesture. I can’t believe the amount of people I spoke to prior to this tournament who were not aware it was happening. Reading the newspapers on a daily basis, I reckon ‘GITEX’, the technology exhibition got more press time than this event in the days building up to it! I got in a lift with a local man yesterday who asked me why the hotel was so busy. I told him that the under 17 World Cup was on, to which he asked what sport! True story. Apparently the branded buses, flyers and posters all over the hotels didn’t give him an inkling.

I think this guy was on his own level to be fair.

Back to KFC gate, I thought I had it bad. I was speaking to another TLO last night who informed me of his struggles that put things in perspective. His team, which will of course remain nameless, seem to be having a lot of kit trouble. Whereas the Nigerians seem to have too much kit, this team seem to have the opposite problem. In fact, they have so few kit that they’ve had to mix and match kits and brands! Apparently they are ‘in between’ kit manufacturers so some of their kit is by one manufacturer, and the rest is by another manufacturer! Even their goalkeepers have different branded gloves. Last I heard, they had to sew patches onto their shorts to cover the manufacturer and they were on their way to find t-shirt printers who could print their players’ names on the back and tailors to amend the shirts they bought! I don’t even know how they managed to find the same kit by different brands. I’m sure this will undoubtedly cause a few headaches for someone.

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What a great match today! Nigeria won 6-1 against the current champions and potential winners Mexico! The stadium was full and the African and Mexican fans made one heck of a lot of noise! In fact, the singing started as soon as we got on the bus. True to type, the players started to break out in singing and dancing as soon as the bus got moving. This was really funny to see because up until then, they had been the epitome of cool and focussed. Apparently match day brings that out in them. We got off the bus to hear the Mexicans blasting out their own brand of pre match entertainment, this time with a modern ghettoblaster. I was so enthralled in the Mexican music that I ended up following them to their changing room. I only realised when their security politely asked me where I was going!

Of course there were a lot of pre-match protocols including the referee coming in to check kits and the match sheet being submitted as well as the team doctor having to submit a list of all medicines he’d given the boys in the last 72hours.

It was a fantastic game to watch live! The Nigerians started off nervously but had raced into a 2-1 lead by half time. It was great to be in the dressing room at half time. The four Nigerian coaches all had their say. What struck me as so fantastic was how it was so organised. Each coach seemed to say what they wanted to say within a short amount of time to give the others their chance to talk. It was like they had internal stopclocks. The head coach, Manu Garba is an unbelievable man. The calmest, quietest football person I’ve ever seen. He never raises his voice and always has a smile on his face. He is a real nice guy and his methods obviously work since he was with the team when they last won the tournament in 2007. The team seemed more calm and assured in the second half. The number 10, Kelechi Ihenacho managed to score four brilliant goals without doing much else. That guy certainly knows how to finish with that left foot of his. The Nigerians have some quality players in that team, from their captain Musa Muhammed, their right back Chidiebere Nwakali, Akinjide Idowu holding the midfield and their two strikers, Iheanacho and my boy Success Isaac. The boy from Chelsea Habib Makanjuola was only good enough to make the bench.

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The boy ‘Nacho’

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I absolutely loved it today. It made me realise how much I truly do love football! I even got to do some media work by explaining the irony of a ‘Nacho’ tearing the Mexicans apart and indulging in my not-so-great past time (if you ask my wife) by offering some witty headlines to our media officer. Unlike said wife, he lapped it up and couldn’t write my suggestions down quickly enough. How about ‘Nacho helps himself as Mexico crumble’ or ‘It’s a Nacho feast as the Golden Eaglets soar’ or ‘Nacho’s crisp finishing brings Success to the Nigerians’?

I’ll stop.

The Nigerian fans were brilliant! They didn’t stop singing all game and once the score got comfortable, they would shout ‘Over the bar’ whenever Mexico got possession and ‘Get in the goal’ whenever Nigeria had their chance on the ball. So much fun!

We stayed behind to watch the sunbathing Swedes against Iraq and left at half time with Sweden 1-0 up. From what I saw, the Nigerians will easily walk this group, although in the African Cup earlier this year, they won their first game 6-1 against Ghana of all teams but then lost their second game 1-0 so who knows.

After  tonight, I can safely say that I no longer see Nigerians as rivals than as brothers. I found myself cheering every goal and having a real sense of pride after the result. In fact, I think I’m going to find a different title for this diary blog from now on. Those boys were just superb. I even came back and had some Nigerian food. They do love their spicy food, these guys, that’s for sure! I drank so much water during dinner that John will no doubt be my best friend tonight.

A 'Success'ful day...

A ‘Success’ful day…

We got back on the bus to the hotel to some more singing, although this time it was more subdued and more in prayer of thanks to God. Then it was over to tranquil Mr Garba to remind the players that there were still six wins to be achieved.

“The celebration ends here.” And it did.

We’re off to a dinner invite by a Sheikh tomorrow evening. He has invited every team member from all four countries to dinner so it should be a great event.

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Diary of a national traitor at the FIFA Under 17 World Cup – Day 4

Friday 18th October 2013

The day before the first game of their tournament, the teams from group F seem focussed but relaxed. Iraq usually walk around the hotel grounds as a team, Sweden are taking advantage of the warmer climes by tanning up and getting their hair even more blonde, and Mexico and Nigeria are a little more elusive. It’s three time winners Nigeria v current  Champions Mexico tomorrow at 5pm at the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed stadium, Al Ain.  These two are potential winners of this tournament and everyone agrees that the most important thing in a tournament is to win your first game, so it will be an interesting and exciting game to watch.

My day seemed to start a little earlier today with a 1am phonecall from the kit manager. I resisted picking up but after the fifth time, I thought I’d best as it could be an emergency. It wasn’t. He had just run out of iron-on ‘FIFA Fair Play’ patches for the kits. What he wanted me to do at that hour, I don’t know. Maybe I should have reciprocated his courtesy and called the FIFA general coordinator at 1am to ask him to send me some patches. I think this would have been a short diary entry if I had. Needless to say he wasn’t in my good books this morning. That’s another thing. I  originally assumed that all those patches on the short sleeves for matches were produced by the shirt manufacturer along with the shirt, but apparently not. Teams are given these once they arrive for the tournament and then kit man then has to iron on each individual patch on each shirt. Thankfully, FIFA do provide a heat press machine which does each patch in 20 seconds.

Training had its usual high tempo warm up, and I had to leave not long after for the Match Coordination Meeting, which I will explain further in a bit. It was good to see police dogs and the police themselves searching and clearing the training area for any possible foreign objects before we were allowed on the pitch. Of course it is unlikely for anything to happen in one of the safest countries I’ve ever been to and in a youth tournament, but it was once again an example of FIFA’s professionalism and attention to detail. I don’t want to sound like a sycophant but FIFA do get a rough ride, and rightly so in some cases, but you have to admire their organisational excellence. It really is a well oiled machine.

Police and their dog in action

Police and their dog in action

I just wanted to share my experiences about the differences in coaching methods I’ve seen so far against what I’ve generally regarded as ‘good practice’.

For as long as I’ve known, us coaches in the ‘Western World’ have been told about the importance of dynamic stretches before warm ups to get the body ready for the activities ahead amongst other reasons. I have been on numerous courses including the FA Level 3/ UEFA B where we’re encouraged to warm up with a ball whenever possible and definitely undertake dynamic stretches. I was coaching in America in 2006 and met another coach who was doing a project on the importance of dynamic stretches. Andy Murphy, this may be of interest to you! I have seen professional teams like Chelsea do nothing but fast paced dynamic warm ups before games and just two days ago, I saw the Swedish team undertaking some fantastic looking team dynamic warm ups. I assumed the days of jogging around the pitch as a warm up were long gone and now we were all encouraged to get a ball straight away or at least to do something other than ;just run around the pitch’. The thing is, for the last three training  sessions I’ve seen with the Nigeria team, their warms ups have been exactly all those activities we were told were ‘antiquated’.

Warm ups so far have started with a prayer (this part is still accepted, I think…) and then a jog two or three times around the pitch, led by Mr Nduka Ugbade, one of the funniest men I’ve ever met and also the first Nigerian Captain to lift the Under 17 trophy as well as a 1994 African Cup of Nations winner. This is then followed by shuttle runs without and then with the ball before the dreaded dynamic stretches. I hope by saying this, I’m not giving away any national secrets or even judge the methods. In fact, this is the opposite and an eye opener because this is obviously a method that’s been used for years and yet Nigerians have always been one of the powerhouses of African football (not as good as Ghana I must add) and arguably the world if you take into account their exports and performances in World tournaments. Looking at the players, I don’t think I have seen fitter and more athletic young men, and their flexibility is strong too.

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The GK could be used as a ruler

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So I ask again, does one size fit all or is it a case of doing what works for you? And if it’s the latter, why are we not educated in coaching courses by looking at various nations and their methods to see how different methods work for others? Or is it a case of ‘West is best’ arrogance? I’m really not sure of any of this, hence the questions. Maybe someone can offer an opinion. What I do know though is that this has been an education for me as a coach and a lesson to be more open minded when dealing with players.

I also loved hearing Mr Ugbade motivating the players before every practice match with quotes such as: “Play to our instructions but make your own decisions” and “Don’t shout at your team mates if they make a mistake. Motivate them because they protect you.” However, what I loved best was his insistence that the players  enjoyed themselves. His last words before every practice match is “Enjoy, enjoy!” He repeats this many times and reminds us all that amidst all the police dogs, protocalls, and practices, this is a game of football which is best played with a smile on the face and joy in the hearts.

Anyway, about the aforementioned Match Coordination Meeting.

As per FIFA protocols, before each match, both teams must attend a Match Coordination Meeting where many matters are discussed and decided, from the time of departure from the team hotel to the match and a check on the team colours to where to warm up and the post match handshakes. This is a pretty big deal and is attended by a host of officials including officials from both teams and FIFA’s doctor, security, marketing, media officers and match commissioner.

Many items were discussed but the ones that stuck to mind were:

  • The notion of fair play. Both teams MUST leave the team hotels at the same time to make sure they all arrive together.
  • The timings and detail of the day. From the time the teams enter the stadium, everything is broken down into specific times to the second. Even the length of time taken to take team photos after the national anthems is specified! Unsurprisingly the distance from the advertising boards to the pitch is also specified, as is the size of the branding on the goalkeeper’s gloves. Image is everything.
  • Contrary to what I believed, players are no longer allowed to even cover their jewellery with tape. There must be no jewellery at all on the pitch.

Any undergarments under the kits have to be the same colours as the primary colour on the team kit. Even the sock tape has to be the same colour. I bet Jorges Campos, the legendary Mexican goalkeeper is glad he’s not playing in the modern game.

Do 'Underarmour' have these colours?

Do ‘Underarmour’ have these colours

During this meeting, the most recurring thought in my mind was how little I realised about what it needs for a match to go ahead. The requirements, protocols and organisation is mind boggling. And these have to be repeated for every one of the 54 games in this tournament. However, the rules are very clear and concise, which takes out the notion of ambiguity, especially in such a global tournament. I always think back to the fact that teams can only have the heat press machine for four hours in the interests of fair play play as an example of the preciseness of matters.

I assume there are similar protocols for a Premier League game for example, although possibly not at the same level due to the amount of games each matchday.

It would be interesting to see what the protocol is for Premiership or even UEFA games for example.

Tomorrow is the big day. I was speaking to one of the Nigerian players and possible stars to watch for this event, Idowu, and asked him about his focus and aspirations. He told me about how he cried for days after they lost the final of the African Nations to Ivory Coast earlier this year and how all he’s thinking about is winning this trophy to repay the coach, Mr Manu Garba, for his faith in him and the team. I also asked him about the fact that they’ve seen nothing but the hotel walls for since they arrived four days ago and if he’s going stir crazy. He looked me in the eye and told me that he’s not bothered about doing anything but playing and trying to win this trophy. All they do in their rooms is sleep or watch tv and he and his teammates are more than happy to continue in this vein.

We’re all waiting to see what happens starting tomorrow, but whatever it is, it won’t be due to a lack of focus. Also keep an eye out for the only player playing overseas, Chelsea FC’s Makam Ojuola, the strong and powerful striker, Success Isaac. He’s incredibly powerful and has a real calm eye in front of goal. If his name is anything to go by, he will do well in his career.

Success Isaac, the next, better Yakubu?

Success Isaac, the next, better Yakubu?

Let’s go!

Diary of a national traitor at the FIFA U17 World Cup – Day 3

Thursday 17th October 2013

Today is the first day of the much anticipated tournament, with Brazil v Slovakia and UAE v Slovakia being played at ‘my stadium’, the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium, Al Jazira’s home ground.

Over in Al Ain, it was a relatively quiet day as the team weren’t scheduled to train until 7pm for their FIFA scheduled official training session and press conference at the Khalifa bin Zayed stadium, Al Ain. In fact, the most taxing thing I had to do all afternoon was order yet another KFC for the tournament staff member, who is fast becoming the Colonel’s biggest fan. This was the third day in a row where I’ve had to call for a delivery of spicy chicken with spicy chips! I’d love to say that I made the order instead of him out of friendship (which it kind of was because he is a nice guy), but I think he genuinely believes that as TLO, that’s part of my job remit. And to be fair, I’m not even sure if he’s completely wrong…

We managed to watch the first half of the Brazil v Slovakia game and I was impressed with Brazil, especially their tall and powerful striker, Mosquito. Yes, that’s his real name. It’s too easy to make puns about his name and anyone that tries can just buzz off. They ended up winning 6-1, and my second favourite team New Zealand sadly lost heavily 7-0 to Uruguay. I really liked the New Zealand staff, led by ex Wolves player Darren Blazeley. They were a very friendly bunch when I met them at the official draw but were unfortunately placed in the proverbial group of death with Italy, current African champions Ivory Coast and Uruguay. Plus they were based in Ras Al Khaimah. They really must have broken a few mirrors.

Even more sadly, my favourite team, UAE cruelly lost to a late Honduras goal in their opening game. I have three players from my school in the UAE national team so I was rooting for them badly. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be and with Brazil to play next, their chances of progressing aren’t good, which is a real shame for the tournament in general. Even more of a shame, my student and one of my classroom saviours in terms his intelligence, Sultan AlShamsi got sent off with less than 30minutes played! With that in mind, the team heroically did well to hold off for so long before succumbing to that late goal. I guess they will be heroic losers.

Does that sound familiar, England fans?

I have a feeling the mild buzz of the tournament will be lost once the UAE team goes out. The only positive is that my students will finally start coming to school after literally spending a year travelling around the world in preparation for this tournament! Shame their teacher won’t be there.

I have another classic story about the ‘no expenses spared’ attitude of the organisers to this event. Today’s matches weren’t on the tvs in our room so we had to go to the in house pub to watch it. Everyone was wondering why the organisers hadn’t arranged for the match to be in our rooms, especially with everyone under 17 and Muslim in some cases and therefore not allowed in a pub. We raised this issue with the head organiser for our group. He made a phonecall and within minutes had promised me they would be buying receivers and installing in our rooms so we would be able to watch the matches by tomorrow.

That’s service.

Watching the Nigerians train today, you would have thought they were playing in the final. Training is anything but. The pace is  frenetic, the tackles strong, the running powerful and the competition fierce! Every decision is called or appealed vehemently as if their lives depended on it! It was brilliant to see! It was refreshing to see a full blooded training session, although I winced with every tackle. These boys are here to do win.

The most intense training I've ever seen about to start

The most intense training I’ve ever seen about to start

Their last three days have been spent in their various rooms, in the restaurant or on the bus for training. And I have not heard one player moan once. That is true focus.

I wonder if there would be such blind dedication and obedience if this was an English or even European team.

Diary of a national traitor at the FIFA Under 17 World Cup 2013 – Day Two

16th October 2013

Today was the first day of training and the coaches wanted to beat the blazing UAE sun, so it was an early start. We were ready and on the team bus at 7.30am for the ten minute journey to the training ground at Al Ain’s Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, the home of Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan! They really like to rub it in.

To further cement FIFA’s extraordinary organisational skills, here is another example. With a single phonecall to the General Coordinator the night before, teams are met with a team bus, police escort and mini van to take them to training the following day. There are four designated training pitches available to each team, which they change on a rota basis. Even the main stadium has four different changing rooms to cater for the days when there are double headers. As I’m sure you’re aware, a stadium usually has two changing rooms so the organisers had to build two new ones to accommodate FIFA protocall!

Training was fantastic to see. As a coach, I love to see the different methods used by other coaches so it was an education for me. One thing I noticed was that the Nigerian boys train like they play: HARD! It was an incredibly intense training session, spearheaded by the coaches, which included one of the stars of the 1996 Olympic winning team and 1994 African footballer of the year Emmanuel Anuneke. This intensity was really noticeable when I looked over at the next training pitch to see the Swedish team train. The difference was typical and insightful. Whereas the Nigerian training was all about running and fast paced action, the Swedish methods were extremely muted in comparison. The Nigerians started with a jog around the pitch three times and then some sprints before they even touched a ball. The Swedes had a ball out to use for their warm up and had a lot of touches of the ball in their session.

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Funny how goalkeepers are always at the back of the jogging group

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There is no judging which method is best, but I found it as a great example of the difference between African and European football.

Post training was followed by rest for the rest of the team while I sat with the equipment manager to go through more FIFA protocall. FIFA have to check every single kit that the teams would be wearing to make sure it complies with their rules and sponsors’ requirements. So we had to lay out all two kits in number order from 1 to 21, all goalkeeper gloves and even the kit that the coaching team would be wearing on the bench. The FIFA official then came and physically checked the names and numbers of every shirt in accordance with the names on his sheet.

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Me and the coaching staff, with Emmanuel Amuneke second from left

‘Our’ poor kit manager has just spent the last four hours putting the ‘UAE 2013’  and ‘Fair Play’ patches on all the team shirts using a heat press machine. He run out of patches and ordered some more, intending to keep the heat press machine until he received the extra patches. However, as per FIFA Fair play rules, the team would be liable for sanctions if they kept the machine for more than four hours! So he had to give it back and then borrow it again once he receives the extra patches. On the face of it, such rules may seem harsh and unnecessary, but I believe it is totally necessary because having so many teams of so many different countries and backgrounds at their events, it is important the rules are clear and concise so it can be exercised to everyone. I’m beginning to think that’s the only way for massive organisations to be successful. It seems to be working so far.

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All kit being given the ‘Clark Kent’ treatment

In the evening, we went for the mandated MRI scans of four randomly chosen players. I did not know that you could tell the ages of young people with a simple scan of the left wrist. Apparently the scan can tell the age of a young person depending on the gap between the skeletal bones in the wrist. I know what most of you are thinking, and no, all the players tested were all at the correct age! No ‘Kanus’ or ‘Okachas’ here…

Diary of a national traitor at the FIFA Under 17 World Cup 2013 – Day One

As a football loving Ghanaian (sometimes Englishman, depending on the situation), it is a bitter-sweet moment to be involved in a FIFA sanctioned event, as a Team Liaison Officer (TLO) for none other than the Nigerian national team! Apart from the fact that Nigeria have been our arch rivals in recent times, they effectively knocked the Ghanaian team out of this tournament with a 6-1 thrashing at the African Cup. However, this is a great opportunity and I guess professionalism is the order of the day… I do feel a little weird supporting the Nigerian team but I keep thinking of it as work and so far have resisted attempts by the team to get me to wear Nigeria branded kit, as nice and fresh as it is!

Say what you want about them, but any football fan would love to work for a massive organisation like FIFA, and in the week or so that I’ve been training and preparing for and undertaking this role, it has been a massive eye opener and a real example of how to organise events!

Here is an account of my experiences thus far.

Tuesday 15th October 2013

Nearly six weeks after our five day training camp with the official draw for the FIFA Under 17 World Cup, the time has come for me to assume my role as a TLO for the Nigerian Under 17 team. Things didn’t start smoothly in many ways, starting with the failure of their delegates to turn up for the official draw on the 28th August. I left the comfortable and plush rooms of Trader’s Hotel, Abu Dhabi at 2am to meet my driver to get to Dubai airport and wait for the manager, captain and another staff from the team to arrive. Three hours of waiting outside the waiting area with my ‘Nigeria’ placard, I got an inkling that something may be amiss. After some navigating around Dubai airport, which I found to be a ridiculously large airport, I eventually got to the desk of their designated airline to be informed that the three members of the team were indeed booked on board but hadn’t taken their flight. However, there was another flight landing in an hour so I should wait  for that. Of course, being keen as mustard, even at that silly hour, I waited. And waited. And still had the same result. I eventually cut my losses after a while and headed back to my bed for an hour’s sleep before our next meeting.

Of course my team was the only one out of the 24 who didn’t have a delegate, however every cloud has a silver lining as I got to go on the official draw stage to represent Nigeria, getting my picture on the FIFA website in the process.

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My moment of glory at the Official FIFA draw

Those five days really opened my eyes to how massive an organisation FIFA really is. And how much money is involved. First of all, all 24 TLOs were put up in the 5 star ‘Trader’s Hotel’ whilst the main staff commandeered the amazing ‘Fairmont Hotel’. With breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you’ve ever been to the UAE, you know they don’t mess with their buffets of food in general. That would definitely have cost a fair few dirhams. Then every team had a car and a driver to transport them to the airport for pick ups. And these weren’t just any cars; BMWs, Nissan Patrols, Lexus’ were all on show, depending on how many delegates were being picked up. We were then told that all teams, every single one of them would receive completely brand new equipment. Brand new balls, bibs, medical equipment and kit for every game too. Because of the sponsors, everything had to be branded according to the sponsors. The only drinks that could be consumed in the hotels were Coca Cola branded drinks. Thank God they also make water bottles. As a born and bred African, I have a thing about wastage and it seemed mad to have to throw perfectly good equipment away because they weren’t of the right brand/because there was no need to re-use them. But that’s how things are in this world and it’s interesting to witness.

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The kit room

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My carriage

Anyway, fast forward a few weeks to today, 15th October. I got picked up from my house by a driver in none other than a Lexus to transport me to our hotel in Al Ain where the Nigerian team would be based along with current champions Mexico, Sweden and Iraq. Of course nothing in the  Fabergé-egg of a country I call the UAE would be smooth. It turned out my driver had no idea where the hotel was and after his Sat Nav failed, we resorted to asking random drivers on the road. Then after finally getting directions, I realised he didn’t know his left from his right! I guess it was wrong of me to assume an executive driver would have an idea of his bearings.

The hotel we are based at is fantastic and has amazing facilities, even an English pub! Of course all rooms in the hotel had been booked by FIFA with each team on their own floor and individual rooms for everyone apart from the players who shared as a pair. There was even a room just for equipment! An additional bonus for me was I got to link the room with my Etihad loyalty card so free points for me! No doubt the wife will already have designs on our next trip after reading this! I arrived a little earlier to make sure I was there to meet the Nigerian team as they were coming from Dubai.

My home for the next week or two

To be fair to FIFA, they have everything sorted. There are so many staff looking after all aspects of the team, from training times to transport, lunches to leisure times. Each team is given a team bus, a mini van for short distance travel and another mini van with all seats taken out for any luggage. Plus, all team movements have to be coordinated with the police so they can provide an escort to ensure they are not late for anything!

The team arrived not long after I did and in my eagerness to make a good impression, I walked onto the bus as soon as they arrived and started introducing myself, only to be  politely  told to step out as they were praying…!

Thankfully, we managed to get over that uncomfortable start pretty quickly. Our first major duty was the team arrival meeting where the teams were informed of a few  regulations  regarding match fixing (don’t do it), offsides (confusing as hell) and anti doping (drink a lot of water if you’re chosen). I found this the most interesting. Did you know that at half time of every International game, four players are chosen at random to be subjected to urine tests? Only the first two from the draw will be chosen and the other two are reserves in case one gets injured and has to go to hospital for example. Another example of FIFA’s covering of all angles. At 75minutes into the game, the players are then informed (if on the bench) or watched by two FIFA delegates if they’re playing. From the time the game is over, they do not leave the sight of the FIFA officials and go straight into the medical room here they stay until they can produce the required 90ml of urine. In the England v Ukraine game for the 2014 World Cup, Joleon Lescott and Jake Livermore were the chosen ones for England. I learnt two things after watching the video. Jake Livermore was once called up for England and Lescott has an almost red-like colour pee. It looked like cranberry juice!