Some of the Colleagues from the organising team of the 2017 FINA World Championships took on a volunteer role during the past weekend, when Budapest hosted the FINAL 6 Waterpolo contest (it being the Champions League of European water polo teams).
The volunteer team of 130 sport enthusiasts carry our all sorts of work mostly in the background, which is an inevitable part of a successful tournament. The reward of a humble and whole-hearted contribution could be to attend such memorable moments, to which general supporters do not have access.
I feel lucky to have witnessed a similar event when on semi-finals day Eger played Barceloneta for the 5th position. This latter was the final game of Peter Biros, who is one of those 8 players from the Hungarian and international sports scene who are three-times Olympic champions. In whatever team sport achieving a three peat is something extraordinary, let alone in water polo where competition is huge (for the records Russia, Serbia and United States finished second behind Hungary during the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Games).
That day I was on shift by the cloak rooms, opened and closed the dedicated areas for the teams according to their schedule. The team of Eger was already heading to the warm up pool with the exception of one player who stayed back to arrange his thoughts, calling back memories from the past decades before his final immersion into the pool.
A request towards volunteers is not to disturb players before the matches and only ask for autograph, pictures after the game. I was thinking what one could possibly say to a giant who is just about to end his professional career when a 2014 spot came to my mind. In this, celebrities, fans of New York Yankees, but even supporters from the big rival Boston Red Sox paid tribute to the then 40-year old baseball player, Derek Jeter. In the mini-film of RE2SPECT – where Michael Jordan also took part – everyone tipped his head along with a close eye contact.
While I had all that in mind I nodded (since not wearing a baseball hat) and wished all the best to Peter. I did all the same after the match when he walked out of the iconic Alfréd Hajós Swimming Complex leaving behind the unique odour combination of a swimming pool corridor and that of chlorine.
Whilst many supporters will proudly say that “I was there during the last game of Peter Biros”, myself I will continue my path in the world of aquatics knowing that I was the last who witnessed the ultimate departure of one of the pillars of the Hungarian water polo golden generation from the swimming pool.
(The author works for Budapest2017)
PS.: Should anyone feel the desire to become part of similar, emotional moments, then we kindly recommend to spend a few days during July/August 2017 in Budapest and Balatonfüred, where the next FINA and MASTERS Worlds Championships will take place!
Until then wish you many success ahead and all the best!