Team GB vs. New Zealand: The Kick-Off

Zeb Welborn

The owner of Welborn Social Media and the founder of The Tutoring Solution.My goal is to help business owners share the passion they have for their business with as many potential customers as possible.By helping passionate people achieve their dreams I am helping to create a society of passionate leaders that will help inspire others to make their dreams a reality.

Karen Bardsley

Having never been to Cardiff before I didn’t have any preconceptions of the city, stadia or the people but sure enough we were greeted with open arms. Cardiff was a beautiful town and we had the good fortune of staying at a hotel in the middle of the city, directly across from the high street. It was so nice to be able to wakeup in the morning and walk to the local Starbucks and get a lovely coffee in the morning. A barista asked us to sign some coffee cups, he was dedicating a shelf to all the Olympians that were visiting and to be fair he had quite a few from various nations. He also asked for our twitter handles so he and his co-workers could follow us – pretty cool! We also had an interesting dinner while in town, when we were in Middlesborough with the Men’s team someone spoke with Craig Bellamy. Being Welsh he knew quite a lot of good places to eat in Cardiff so he recommended an Italian restaurant, naturally we assumed it would be a treat but it turned out to be a little bit of a nightmare. A few of us ordered the seabass and it was quite different then what we expected, it certainly sounded delicious on the menu but when it was delivered it was literally a fileted fish, complete with eyes, head, and tail. It was stuffed with lemon and a few herbs sprinkled here and there. Sorry Craig but it was not my bag, they must really like you!

Kit

In preparation for our matches we did a lot of training but as the matches drew nearer we allotted more rest and recovery time. Players do a lot of different things to aid their recovery: ice baths, massages, walks, jogs, bike rides etc. but how do we stay entertained? Usually we find various ways to entertain ourselves or each other but one night in particular we felt like going to the cinema. We did the usual, we rounded up the team in the lobby and asked who would be interested in going but this time the manager on duty at the hotel overheard us and said, “I know the manager at the Cinema, let me give him a call.” We waited a few minutes and he came back to us with times for the films. A majority of us wanted to see “The Dark Knight” so we walked over and we were greeted and escorted to a theater. We sat there for about 15 minutes and the theater wasn’t filling up at all, we thought it was a bit strange but didn’t take much notice. A few people walked in a few minutes later and sat down mid-level but an usher quickly scurried in a asked them to follow him to another showing! WHAT?! Hang on a second. Were we having a private screening? We couldn’t resist tweeting about it.

The build up to the first match was great; not only were we full of enthusiasm, the whole city was buzzing with excitement too. Unfortunately we didn’t get to go to the opening ceremony but we did get to watch it together in our private viewing room (hotel meeting room) dressed in our snazzy opening ceremony outfits! We went down to dinner in our “spacesuits” and some of the girls paraded around the lobby, dining area and bar to rousing applause: the team made quite a scene. The following day we had the opportunity to visit Millennium Stadium and walk the pitch, it was a beautiful ground, the grass was immaculate. Unfortunately due to Olympic regulations, teams were not permitted to train at the stadium in the group stages so we had to go back to our training ground and get on with business as usual.

The following day was match day, Team GB v New Zealand. The most awesome thing about match day, especially on a massive stage like the Olympics, is the energy. As soon as the team woke up we could feel the energy and excitement exuding from every single person in the squad. It carried on all throughout the day: to Millennium Stadium, where we were escorted the last few kilometers by Police on horseback through a crowd of supporters, to the changing room and on to the pitch as we began the warm up. People were chanting our names, chanting Team GB and making up songs. The match hadn’t even started yet! It was definitely a feeling we will never forget. New Zealand were a very dangerous team, they were very fit and physical. They put us under some immense pressure at times, especially in the first half. The occasion may have got the better of us but in the end we came together as a team and secured our first three points and Team GB’s first official victory.

Team GB Women’s Football by Karen Bardsley

Zeb Welborn

The owner of Welborn Social Media and the founder of The Tutoring Solution.My goal is to help business owners share the passion they have for their business with as many potential customers as possible.By helping passionate people achieve their dreams I am helping to create a society of passionate leaders that will help inspire others to make their dreams a reality.

Team GB Women's FootballBeing at the Village was an eye opening experience. In hindsight, I am glad we got our bearings before we played Brazil. Most of us made the best of the evening and headed over to “the globe” to shoot some pool and hang out after meetings and meals. This place looked like it was straight out of the film “Roadhouse,” it was filled with neon lights, pool tables, a few XBOX, and Wii consoles, bandstands, a digital jukebox, and a Powerade bar where you could customize your own Powerade bottle and name bands. Quite a lot of athletes were tweeting their custom bottles, using hashtags and all sorts of mentions. I felt that social media outlets were well used throughout the Olympics and almost all of the interactions I saw were very positive. I even used the search feature a few times to find other athletes, where they were competing, how they did and send them well wishes. Team GB Women’s Football was constantly connected throughout the games, most of the staff were on Twitter and constantly posted updates, results and more good luck messages. Our time in the Village was brief; we very much enjoyed it but were were soon back to business as we had a pre-Olympic match to prepare for. So off we went to Middlesborough following morning.

We made our way Stratford Station ,directly across from the village and after multiple security screenings we were joined by Team GB Men’s football. Police escorted us to Kings Cross where we boarded our first class train to Middlesborough. Ooh la la. We were all left to our own devices, I filled up my time editing video and scarfing my sandwich whilst most of the others tweeted, “facebooked,” napped or watched movies on their iPads and computers. I had never been in a first class cabin on a train before so I was a bit surprised when the attendants came around with the trolley and gave us a selection of snacks to chose from, as I eluded to earlier I had a sandwich and the attendant asked how many I wanted. I thought we only got one, that’s first class for you – an unlimited supply of sandwiches.

After a short coach journey we arrived at a rather palatial hotel, it was absolutely massive – gorgeous. The corridors were decorated with ornate filigree, antique paintings, bold carpeting and our rooms were enormous with all of the accoutrements and even a fancy turn down service (I could get used to this). There was a golf course on the grounds as well as Middlesborough’s training ground – immaculate pitches. The staff were all obliging and lovely and even took us on a few guided golf buggy tours, lucky us. As the week went on we had a few open training sessions; media and supporters came to watch – we enjoyed that immensely!

Before we knew it match day was upon us. This day in particular was a bit of a rush due to the doubleheader’s early kickoff but regardless we were eager to get started. The excitement was palpable, it had been building for a few weeks now and it was finally time to warm up and play. The match ended in a goal less draw but there were a lot of positives to take away from our performance. We had many opportunities but failed to convert, all things considered it was a pretty good start to our Olympic campaign. Not bad for a team that had only been together for two weeks. After the match we headed back to the changing rooms for ice baths and showers but not before taking some photos and signing autographs for our awesome supporters. One thing the team really enjoyed about Twitter and Facebook was seeing the photos that people took at the match and mention the enjoyment it brought to them. It was nice to feel supported, especially when everyone’s comments were so positive!

After a lie in, breakfast and a recovery session we packed up and made our way to one of Middlesborough’s local airports. Much to our surprise a private jet awaited our arrival. We breezed through security, had a browse in W.H. Smith and boarded the plane to Cardiff; where we had the honor of kicking off the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Karen Bardsley Shares the Olympic Experience — Kitting Out and Olympic Village

Zeb Welborn

The owner of Welborn Social Media and the founder of The Tutoring Solution.My goal is to help business owners share the passion they have for their business with as many potential customers as possible.By helping passionate people achieve their dreams I am helping to create a society of passionate leaders that will help inspire others to make their dreams a reality.

Karen Bardsley from Welborn Social Media

For the last week I have been preparing for the Olympics with Team GB Women’s Football in Loughborough. It feels similar to previous England camps with the exception of a few new faces from Scotland and Northern Ireland, heaps of brand new Adidas kits and let’s not forget to mention staying in the same hotel as the Team GB Men’s Football. I was eating dinner and I casually looked up to see my hero, Ryan Giggs sitting directly across from us.  I kept pinching myself to make sure all of this was actually happening. I’m going to have a lot of bruises. It was surreal. Surreal seems to be a word I have used a lot recently.

“Kitting out” is something I will never forget! The first day I arrived at the preparation camp I met up with the rest of the Team GB Women’s Football squad and I was escorted through a specialty Adidas shop with a personal shopper who assisted me with sizing and selecting my Team GB clothes and equipment for the tournament for about ninety minutes. Pinch. I’m not sure I have ever felt so special. Everyone was so friendly and helpful, the smiles were endless. Pinch. The best part of the whole day had to be the #takethestage photo booth that Adidas set up in the match kit room. They had a bucket full of props and we were allowed to take as many pictures as we liked. They told us to tweet as much as we wanted about the kitting out process. My teammates and I were taking photos of absolutely everything. I still don’t think I have gone through all of them yet! Interviews and press photos immediately followed the process. So fun. Pinch. I feel absolutely honoured to have been selected to be a part of such a historic event! Pinch.

Karen Bardsley Kitting Out Adidas #takethestage Photo Booth Karen Bardsley #takethestage

Yesterday, we drove south to London. The Olympic Village was our next destination. I have NEVER experienced ANYTHING like the Olympic Village before at any major tournament. The place was just crawling with security, there probably isn’t a more secure place on the planet at the moment. This means social media too! Athletes are not allowed to post any videos taken during the games, or in Olympic training grounds, venues or staging areas. Such a bummer! However, we are allowed to tweet and it is certainly encouraged but we have to be careful where we take photos.

Karen Bardsley London 2012 Olympics Team GBTeam GB Women's Football Olympic Village

The first thing athlete, coach and staff member have to do is get accredited to get into the village. We were taken to a staging area where we were given all of our paperwork and then asked to queue to have the information input into databases and finally a physical accreditation was laminated and hung on alanyard. After that process we were loaded onto a red double-deckerbus. These buses are used to shuttle everyone all around the village, I love seeing them all around the village. It’s so very British. Anyway, this bus took us to the main dining hall, which is massive! It is absolutely enormous, it can seat thousands upon thousands of people at once – I’m talking about multiple airlinehangers big… HUGE! There are food stands from all over the world in order to cater to all pallets. Anything we could probably think of is in this dining hall and the best thing of all…it’s open twenty-four, seven!

Lunch went over very well but it was straight back to work for us. We were lead to our apartment blocks where we promptly had a meeting with the staff members of Team GB housing and Dame Kelly Holmes. She gave such an motivational speech about her experience as a member of Team GB and what it took to win her medals. I feel she helped put a lot of things into perspective for us. Pinch. Immediately after Kelly’s speech myself and seven others were escorted once again to a press conference. That was a new and good experience for me, I was definitely a bit nervous but with the help of our press liaison it all went very smoothly. I learned a lot but most importantly, “pay attention to the question!” Fortunately it didn’t happen to us, but so often people assume they know what is going to be asked and end up completely forgetting to answer the question that was actually asked. How embarrassing!

Team GB Athlete Karen Bardsley

http://www.teamgb.com/athletes/karen-bardsley

Follow Karen’s adventure on the Welborn Social Media Blog and on Twitter!
@klbardsley