Life’s a beach: Reporter resembles ‘dead fly’ playing on Ilford’s new beach volleyball courts
The dangerous combination of Olympic legacy stories and my editor having a wicked sense of humour resulted in me rolling around in the sand under the pretence of playing beach volleyball.
In fact it was a momentous day in more ways than one.
Firstly because I rarely do sport, and secondly because I think it was the first time the Recorder’s photographer has laughed in his 20 year career.
I assumed I was jumping around with poise and elegance in a not dissimilar manner to the athletic woman on the Olympic beach volleyball team.
I came crashing back down to earth when he told me I looked like a “dead fly”.
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The three beach volleyball courts opened last week in Loxford Park, Loxford Lane, Ilford with more than 900 tonnes of sand straight from the Olympic courts at Horse Guards Parade.
I’m met there by Gary Beckford, 48, who works for Volleyball England and is the main instigator of the series of humiliations I was about to go through.
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Also joining us on the courts were girls from Oaks Park High School, Oaks Lane, Newbury Park who made up most of the London Youth Games squad and the Year 11 national champion team from Chadwell Heath Academy, Christie Gardens, Chadwell Heath.
So no pressure.
Gary takes one look at me in my suit trousers and bright pink lipstick and announced it was time for diving drills.
We lined up at the edge of the court while he threw the ball up into the air. The aim of the game was to dive for the ball before it reached the ground.
By the time you got to it the ball was so low that you had to fling yourself at it and try and get it over the net.
This leads us to the “dead fly moment” which has already become an urban legend in the office.
As I landed face down in the sand I couldn’t help bursting out laughing which meant I had to roll over onto my back while trying to get the sand off of my outfit.
Almost before I’d got back to the office the photograph had been circulated to my colleagues.
Minor humiliation aside I can’t deny the fact that I was having a brilliant time and spent most of the session laughing, something Gary says volleyball is all about.
“At the Olympics everyone was happy,” he said. “You’re on the sand, how many inner city kids get to play on sand?”
The three courts are on the former bowls club in the park and Sport England gave about �50,000 for the renovations.
The courts are surrounded with trees, and with the sun shining, I find myself agreeing with Gary that it doesn’t feel like we’re in a huge city at all.
He said: “For some it’s a new experience standing on sand, now it’s on their door step.
“Beach volleyball makes people smile - I want people to be happy playing sport.”
Plans for the court include having aerobics lesson, tai chi groups and children’s birthday parties to get as much use out of the courts as possible.
Oh, and for those of you keeping score, school children: epic, Ilford Recorder reporter’s ego: destroyed.