On the 22nd of September of this very year I embarked to Adelaide to compete in my second University Games. For those of you who are in the dark, the Australian University games is an annual sporting event whereby the elite athletes from each University congregate to compete in their respective sports over the course of a week. However the sport itself is only the tip of the iceberg, and you have to wonder if the creators of the event were completely unaware of the chaos that could be unleashed when over 5000 university studies descend on a city during the break.
Playing with the Melbourne University Water polo team, I had the luxury of residing in the Oaks Residential complex, a relatively modern establishment located in the prestigious Northern district of the city. After arriving and getting to know our apartments, I joined the rest of the team for a meeting about the upcoming week. The juniors of our team, the first years were known as the freshers and consistent with tradition these “sub humans” were told about their limited rights and how over the week they would endeavour to prove themselves. To do this, they are awarded challenges to complete throughout the week, these exercises of worthiness ranged from having a photo taken in front of an iconic building to seeking employment at an establishment (a feat that was actually achieved). The more elegant and experienced members aka sergeants , such as myself ,had the tough job of giving challenges to these younger members and making sure they behaved as a fresher was intended to. Once this core rule was set in stone more important notions of the week were brought into discussion, we would play one game each day subject to our performance which would lead to a berth in the final playoffs and at night we would consume alcohol, dress up in costume and have fun in the big city.
The first night shenanigans were exactly how I had envisioned, dressed in a one meter piece of cloth passed of as a toga my team mates and I descended on the town, like a scene from mad max the city was pumping with young vibrant students seeking a memorable night. The remainder of the first evening is a blurrr of colours and faces, it wasn’t until arising in the early hours to venture to the aquatic centre that I began to feel the consequences for my exuberant night. However not all was lost and victory was had, the week continued much in the same fashion with the only things changing being our costumes for the evenings and our opponents during the day.
The week raced away from beneath me and before I knew it I was facing off with Sydney Uni in the semi finals for what was to be a thrilling encounter as the two of the countries largest universities would do battle for a spot in the grand final. The game was a fierce display of pure brute strength and skill. A controversial call towards the conclusion of the game allowed a shaken Sydney to progress to the final after proving victorious 5-4. Looking back on my individual performance I realised I hadn’t been in my best form as was expected with a few too many beverages throughout the week. My opponents however provided comfort as I knew from various encounters from previous nights that they were in similar condition. Maybe this is where the beauty of the games is, the camaraderie , the friends made and that although socialising is a high priority so is the competitiveness of the sport.
Although we finished 3rd I left with so much more than just a bronze medal. Bring on University Games 2013