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Welcome to the Sheffield Steelers Wheelchair Basketball Club, a registered charity and home to the country’s premier wheelchair basketball team.


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Eccomi Qua

(Here I am)

Welcome to my first blog post since arriving in Italy, and oh my goodness, is it nice to be doing something in English.

Now official and settled in as a player of Padova Millennium Basket, and man does it feel cool to be the owner of these.

Writing to you from a cafe in my home-town Camposampiero. And this post so far has taken a lot longer than expected, mainly because when I try and think of what to write down, I end up thinking about one of the events I'm trying to tell you about and drift off into a daydream.

Anyway, to business.

As I'm writing it, it is now the 4th of October, meaning that it's been just short of a month since I made that 17+ hour drive from Halifax to where I am now. I got so tired throughout that day that I don't really remember a lot of it now, all I remember is endless miles of wrong-way-around motorways, some incredible views while going through Switzerland, and the growing realisation that I actually was glad my Dad came with me to share the driving. (But I won't admit that to him.)

So after nearly a month here, what have I been up to in my new life? There's way too much stuff to put in a single blog post, so I'll try and keep it focused on the key things... First of all, here's what my week looks like:

  • Monday: Shooting 2:30-3:30

  • Tuesday: Gym 10-11, Team Training 8-10:30

  • Wednesday: Day Off!

  • Thursday: Gym 10-11, Team Training 8-10:30

  • Friday: Shooting 2:30-3:30

  • Saturday: Team Training 5-7:30

  • Sunday: Games/Events

There it is, keeps me busy and, combined with the heat out here, getting plenty of sleep and going through an absurd amount of shower-gel.

That's a lot of time hanging around with the same group of guys, which can be a little intense when you're the new person in the group and don't speak the same language as the rest of the team. Lucky for me that the team are a great group of people, and all of them make an effort to speak English whenever they can. Can't even begin to say how much I appreciate that, makes me feel very welcome.

I live here with two teammates in an apartment that the team pays for, sharing with a Greek, and a Moroccan who, for some reason that seems unknown to mankind, is yet to show up. When I heard that this was the living arrangement, I thought that living in Italy with a Greek and a Moroccan sounded like a recipe for a really bad sitcom, now that I'm out here I realise that there would have to be significantly less language-barriers and more talking for a sitcom to ever be a possibility.

Outside of my fairly silent household, my Italian has improved more than I could have expected, it's amazing how quickly you pick up phrases and the idea of a conversation when it's being spoken around you all day, but I still class having a conversation with a stranger as a huge accomplishment.

Outside of my training schedule, I have time to myself. I tend to spend this time doing any number of the activities that I listed in one of my earlier blogs for keeping yourself entertained while abroad, although there are also a number of cafes in Camposampiero that I frequent if I fancy sitting in the sun with a sandwich and a coffee and listening to the locals. So, here's the list of things that I've learned about the Italian culture since I arrived here:

  • Coffee is genuinely cheaper than water. I know that seems impossible, but it really is true.

  • An Italian person will always look surprised when you tell them you don't understand them because you're not Italian.

  • They will then guess that you're Dutch.

  • When you tell them you're from England, they decide that you're from London.

  • If you're sitting near a bar or coffee machine, complete strangers will offer to buy you a coffee. You're expected to do the same for them later, and I think that it's quite rude to decline their offer.

  • If you go out to meet people for a meal or some kind of gathering, things can't begin or end until you've said "Ciao!" to everyone individually.. this can take a while and the word Ciao is usually said somewhere around 317 times.

  • On the other hand, you can get odd looks for saying "Ciao!" to someone who you just see in passing. Found out from a friend a couple of days ago that it's meant to be Buongiorno/Buonasera (Good morning/evening) to adults, so I guess that's why.

  • If you're driving, hoot your horn at stuff.

  • On Sundays, Italian men gather in huge groups on street corners, drink espresso, talk very loudly and wave their arms around. Don't even pretend to be sure why.

That's just some of it, I've not even mentioned the two-course lunches, followed by coffee and a glass of grappa, and that's between two games at a tournament! Rule of Italian life: Food first, everything else fits in around it.

Had a couple of warm-up tournaments so far, with games against Division A2 teams in Treviso and Parma. Team looks to be coming together nicely with a couple of great wins so far, and a lot more potential to take into the league with us. Only just scratching the surface, but hopefully we'll be ready to put up a decent fight against Santa Stefano on the 19th!

Outside of that, we've just the other day found out about our group for the EuroLeague next March. This is my first time in EuroLeague 1 and the group is looking tough. We'll be travelling to Germany where the prelim stage is hosted by Lahn-Dill, and will be joined by Sassari, Hyeres, and my old friends the Wolverhampton Rhinos.

Can. Not. Wait.

This blog has been a little rushed as I've been trying to fit in all kinds of different things from the last month, I'll try and update more regularly and in a less random manner from now on!

Thanks for reading!


Admin comment: Thanks for the blog Mark. It's good to read you arrived well in your new home and all the best for the season and today's first game!!

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