So, why EJ Multi Sports-Leagues?, Where did this idea come from and what are am i trying to achieve? Let me take you back to my childhood.
I've been running all sorts of different sports events since the age of about 12. As my siblings were much older than me, my favourite moments were when my sister Natalie would visit with her children, Reece (-3 years younger), Amber (-6) & Senna (-7) who were much closer to me in age. They even lived with us for about a year in 2002/03 in 'Woodcote'. Woodcote was the name of my childhood home, it featured a swimming pool, tennis court and plenty of room to play around. I was incredibly fortunate to have lived in such an amazing house for the first 12 years of my life. This was the best time of my childhood, just the 4 of us, having fun and creating havoc in Woodcote. Throughout our time together i would regularly create 'tournaments'. Events would range from penalty shootouts to painting and even playing our own made up crazy golf courses. As there were 4 of us, i would always award 4 points to the winner, 3pts for 2nd, 2pts for 3rd and 1pt for last. Adjoined to this, i found a love of spreadsheets, keeping all our scores on Microsoft Excel. (I still have those spreadsheets saved to this day!). This was just the beginning.
After this period in my life, my parents divorced, Woodcote was sold, and my sister Natalie moved to France with her children. My Mum and I moved to a beautiful little hamlet called Luddesdown, and here my famous 'Beast Days' were born. Once a month i would organise one of these 'Beast Days' down the Luddesdown Rec (a park with a football pitch and a few swings). Events would include Cycling, Archery (we made our own bows & arrows), Running, Tug of War, Football & even a Dog Race! (Yeah they were hilarious). And 10-15 kids of my age and younger would come along and participate, i loved it, we all did. I would even go the supermarket beforehand and buy cheap sweets/chocolate and cans of fizzy drinks to sell to my friends and participants for a small profit. ( I once bought about 20 creme eggs that were due to go out of date soon for just 20p! i sold each one for 50p, not a bad £9.80 profit).
In 2004, i was 14 years old and i tried to start up my own 11 a-side football team (Luddesdown Lions FC) with my friends, we even bought a kit from Ebay for about £50! Unfortunately we were never able to gain entry to a proper league, and after just 3 friendlies & one 5 a-side tournament, we folded, winless. (My friend Lewis started his own football team in 2012, and when the league wouldn't accept 'Lewbear & the Heartbreakers' as a valid name, Luddesdown Lions were finally up & running!).
In 2005, My Mum told me we were going to France to visit my sister. It had been nearly 2 years and i was so excited to see Reece, Amber & Senna again, i missed them greatly. Before going ,Reece had told me he started playing tennis and that we should have a match when i come and visit. Intrigued (and not wanting to lose), i picked up a racket and played with my friends here in England to practice, so i could beat Reece (we have always been ultra competitive), when i made it to France. Here my love for tennis was born (hang on, didn't i mention i had a tennis court in my garden before!?, Yes that is true, but i can only ever remember playing on it once or twice. What a waste i know...how i'd love Woodcote back now). I organised my first tennis tournament in the summer of 2006 at Corinthians Sports Club on the sandy carpet (the kind that ripped your skin open if you fell over). Why? it was Reece's first visit back to England since moving away and i wanted to do something nice for him. Oh and in case your wondering, he won our first meeting out in France, an epic 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 win. That first EJ Tennis Tournament featured 8 players, but by 2009, i had a record 48 players playing! I've run it every year since and its in its 14th year this year. I've won it twice, Reece just the 6 times (a record).
As part of the tournament, i am there for each main draw match and record stats while umpiring. The stats started off just being aces, double faults & longest rally. But I now record all that, plus duration of sets & matches, winners, unforced errors, forehand, backhand, net approaches & serve speed (Yes, i bought a speed radar). The singles winner gets our coveted trophy, complete with all names of the previous winners. The doubles winners also receive the same in 2 smaller versions. I genuinely believe it could be the best amateur tennis tournament in the world! I passed my LTA referee course in 2013, and all matches count towards a player's LTA rating. I began to organise more tennis tournaments and have probably ran around 25-30 in total, some years 3 at a time. My greatest spreadsheet has a record of every tennis match ever played in all my tournaments, including some friendly results, its currently on 1,142 matches played.
I hope you enjoyed this first part of the story! Look out for Part 2 next week if you'd like know what other sports tournaments i have organised, or why i once bought 2 javelins...