In celebration of our 10 years in Bulgaria (still reeling over that one? we are too) we took ourselves off to watch some sport. Any of you who actually know us will realise how weird that sentence sounds.
We’ve heard of football and walked through the Sea Gardens to Lazur stadium. No luck… but round the back we fell across Zornitsa sports hall, where the Burgas Dolphins were playing Shumen at basketball at 3pm!
There was a small turnout, so they waived the 2 leva entrance fee and we were faced with a bunch of surprisingly tall Bulgars playing a crazily fast-moving, action packed game. It all happened so quickly that we struggled to follow all that was happening, but that was what made it all the more gripping: goals (baskets?) were being scored almost by the minute and there was never a dull moment.
This got us thinking…we should read up on the rules. Find out if there’s any more happening. And lo! There was: the next day – same time, same place. Buoyed up by the Dolphins’ win, we made a plan to come back.
Sunday dawned and we drank our morning coffee whilst googling basketball facts, reading up on the innumerable possible fouls and watching YouTube examples of dribbling techniques. It was the Burgas ladies – this time up against Montana (not that one) and there was an altogether better turnout in the stands. Unfortunately this included a family of vuvuzela players in the front who insisted on harrassing the opposition when they had possession of the ball using the medium of noise. Not very sportsmanlike.
Anyway the match was great, it definitely helped having done a bit of homework. It was close…but we won – again! So time for a pizza and a beer (don’t judge, we’re not the sportspeople here) and hoofed over to Mladost sports hall where we’d heard there was some volleyball. Goodness!
The place was PACKED with excited spectators, so we shuffled down a row to find a couple of free seats and before too long the action on the court started: Burgas Neftochimik 2010 v CSKA Sofia. The atmosphere was great! Volleyball rules seem much easier to follow and soon we were ooh-ing and aah-ing and on the edge of our seats with everybody else.
What was a little jarring was the fact that the entire match was commentated on by a kind of ‘master of ceremonies’, DJ Djordjy. Wearing sunglasses (indoors), a white leather jacket and an arrogant sneer, he stood at a battered laptop with his legs unfeasibly wide apart, yelling into a microphone. He tried to lead the crowd in chants and later encouraged tumult when it was the opposition’s turn to serve, openly laughing when they dropped the ball. It was only his own ridiculous music choices that drowned him out (YMCA? The BIRDY SONG??).
I’m sorry to say that the vuvuzela family had migrated to this match as well, compounding the issue. Had I been any closer, I would have happily shoved a lukanka up each of their horns.
Despite all this, things reached fever pitch as the match progressed. I never thought I’d find myself leaping up and yelling ‘PETROL!’ in Bulgarian (NAFTA – the shortened team name) at the top of my voice in a sports hall!
After a tense moment in the crowd which could have led to a ruckus (for which DJ Djordjy would have been wholly responsible, with all his pointless incitement to hatred) everybody was on their feet and the Burgas team won!
Have we found a new hobby? Maybe…although discovering when and where future matches take place remains a mystery. We might have been here 10 years but the idea of advertising events more than a couple of days in advance (in Burgas at least) still seems a way off.