Posted by: TheAuthor | 16/02/2011

Court landmine

A popular past time during my stint in Iraq, was volleyball. During our down time, as we had a court beside our accommodation in camp, it was the done thing, to go and play a few sets.

The stereotypical visions of ‘Top Gun‘ were played out, as well as serious tests of skill. It was a source of entertainment; to see a friend attempt to punch the ball and see it sail over the barbed wire and into the Iraqi police compound; someone trip and stumble into the net while stretching for the ball mid-air; or for the ‘unathletic’ or unbronzed upper bodies out in the open.

I played volley ball at school for a time, I remembered it to be a lot of fun. So I made a concerted effort to play often and improve while in Iraq. Close friends and myself would go out often, take a break for sun tanning, and return. Nothing was ever truly competitive until an inter-platoon game was arranged. Then it was all about pride, the best players were picked and the rest stood by to cheer them on.

Towards the end of the tour of Iraq an inter company tournament was drawn up. Teams from each of the platoons were organised, as well as company headquarters and support elements.

My own platoon, 5, went on to excel and got to the final – here a TV was on offer for the winning team. We were up against the company headquarters (officers and senior ranks) and played well, in fact, legitimately we won. However, for one of the senior ranks a number of our points didn’t count whereas theirs did. Being from a lower ranking and having no independent officials, we had little to stand on. Suffice to say, we didn’t receive any form of television but had the pride of knowing we were the best in the company at yet another skill.

Every day we played on this court, unless a dust storm or extreme heat surged over our compound. On one occasion, whilst mid game, a friend fell over into the sand. When he stood, he was holding a land mine (a little old and rusted mind you) and we stood in disbelief for a minute and began to joke around with it. We mused with the idea of what to do with it, before it was thrown over the barbed wire into the Iraqi police’s side of the compound. Never to be seen, or heard of (if you pardon the pun), again.

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