Rather embarrassingly for a man of my age, I still retain a certain enthusiasm for sport of all descriptions. Happily for me, Majorca and the Balearic Islands in general are a great place to be if you want to indulge in most types of physical activity. However, I’d like to concentrate on just two sports that over the past years I have happily indulged in myself.
I only started playing tennis in my mid 40’s just before arriving on the island of Majorca, but since then I have continued to play with enthusiasm at any given opportunity. Indeed, like other tennis ‘tragics’ of a certain age I like to play at least twice a week and happily Majorca is well blessed with tennis courts and facilities of all descriptions. From local boy - Rafa Nadal’s, renowned international academy, to rather smart club-like facilities across the island - not forgetting many unheralded, but very good local municipal courts, the island is very well blessed in terms of places to play the game.
Funnily enough, I first played tennis in Majorca five years before actually living here. My local tennis club in the UK organised a ‘tennis tour’ of the island in the mid 1990’s - and that in part, persuaded me to move to the island, although to be truthful, my in-laws were already based here - but, that week of tennis in the sun sealed the deal! Furthermore, playing tennis is more than just running around whacking a ball about - it is socially engaging in a real sense, as tennis ‘buddies’ become good friends on and off the court and at the same time it keeps a person fit, whilst moving about and focussed to a quite surprising degree. Oh - and yes, it is also very competitive in a fun sort of way! Given more space, I would be happy to regale you, dear reader, as to the potency of my backhand slice and the fact that my second serve is as vigorous as a “Vicar’s handshake.”
My other sporting obsession is - and always has been cricket. Once again if you want to play this game, you can - as all three main Balearic Islands have cricket clubs. Interestingly, whilst tennis is a game that Spanish folk understand and - let’s face it, excel at - cricket is a complete mystery to most local folk. Perfectly understandable I think, as it hasn’t as yet entered their sporting DNA. Nevertheless, Mallorca CC - Menorca CC and Ibiza CC are successful clubs playing a very good standard of cricket and attract many touring clubs over the long spring, summer and early autumn season. Whilst Ibiza CC and Menorca CC have well established ‘home’ grounds, Mallorca CC is in the process of seeking a new home.
Every May, all the islands cricket clubs do battle for the prestigious and hard fought Balearic Cup - with no quarter asked and none given! Interestingly and perhaps understandably, the people who play the game come from very different social and ethnic backgrounds, in line with the old British Empire, now happily known as The Commonwealth. From ex-pat Brits of all descriptions, to ‘yachties' from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Moreover, cricketers with links to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are a mainstay of the game across the islands. And as a former Chairman of Mallorca CC (non playing!) I was very proud to announce a few short years ago, that our club fielded players of eight different nationalities at a Balearic Cup competition.
Finally, let me regale you with a sporting story that I have dined out on, many times over the years, that links my love of tennis and cricket. A little more that fifteen years ago (I think!) I was stood in the bar of Mallorca Cricket Club enjoying a post ‘Nets’ beer when a mate of mine told a group of us about a young lad who he had just seen playing in a junior tennis tournament, against among others, his kids - that very same day. Charles (for that was his name!) explained to everyone who would listen, that he had just witnessed a “A brilliant young kid, who will be a great champion one day.” The name of that - “…young kid”? Rafael Nadal.