Spurs in Mauritius: Day 1
After greeting a few familiar faces at Heathrow Airport — I’m sure these die-hard fans would be there if we had a midweek game in Tibet — and an 11-hour flight through the night, the first party travelling to our brief end-of-season tour of Mauritius touched down on the island at 12.30pm local time, 9.30am UK.
Welcoming smiles greeted us at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport as we were lavished with garlands by our hosts.
A bonus of being with the first party out was a few pit stops on the way to the hotel and an ‘early doors’ opportunity to see some of the sights we’ll be visiting in the next few days.
And there was no greater sight than seeing hundreds of smiling faces as we dropped by at the Rose Belle North Govt School. Imagine the scene as we drove through the gates of the school and these cheering, waving kids appeared at all angles. A quick check of the facilities and we were on our way but by now, lessons had temporarily stopped and all the kids were out to see us off. It was quite overwhelming — and not a player in sight!
From there it was a 45-minute drive across what is a very green island overlooked by imposing mountains to the Anjalay Stadium, home of our friendly against the Mauritius national team on Friday evening.
We were told before travelling that the island is mad on Premiership football so it was no surprise to see ‘Liverpool’ daubed all over a wall on a side street on the way to the stadium. Turn the corner and the first shop of note, of all things, Toys R Us! Naturally, McDonalds wasn’t far away either!
The stadium appeared out of nowhere down what you might best describe as a 'B' road and looked a picture. The main stand is pure white on the outside (well, it looked white, but the photos look pink — perhaps they painted it in one of those ‘hints of’ coloursÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦) and a complete contrast to what waits inside with the seating coloured in an almost rainbow effect, quite a sight from the top of the main stand as dark clouds rolled over the countryside.
By way of coincidence, we had four players that might just play a part in Friday’s match travel with us to the hotel. Sam Maherally, Ray Beheharry, Vissen Appadu and Eric Johnson (pictured below) all play for the Mauritius Sports Association in the Middlesex County Premier League back home in England. All four have been invited out to train with the Mauritius national team this week and all four were hoping beyond hope that they would do enough to feature against us.
Vissen said: “For the national team, it’s an amazing opportunity. To play Tottenham and players of Premiership level is a huge step up and a real challenge.
“For me personally it’s a foot in the door to get into the national side and hopefully play against Premiership players, testing my ability. My main aim coming over here is to get a chance and play against Spurs. I’d like to be in the frame for the Mauritius national team. It’s such a chance for us for a team as big as Spurs to come out to our small island.”
With that, it was dinner and bed as we look forward to the main party arriving on Wednesday.
From Paul Miles in Mauritius