For some time now I’ve been meaning to find out about pelota, a sport which essentially combines squash and fives and is to all extent and purposes the national game of La Rioja, Navarra and the Basque Country. Driving round northern Spain I’ve regularly been taken aback by these enormous courts, which dominate small villages and dwarf the local church.
So I was delighted when the Diario La Rioja asked me to photograph an important game in Ezcaray last Friday. The doubles game, a semi-final in the professional league, was noteworthy as three of the four players come from Ezcaray itself.
Due to it being live on TV, it didn’t start until 10.15pm. My deadline for the paper was 11.30pm meaning I had just over an hour to take the photos, sort them, process them and email them in. It was like working the night shift at the Guardian once again where time seems to speed up as deadline approaches. Do the basics well and remember to keep breathing. That was what used to get me through.
So, needless to say, I didn’t have time to savour the game nor even work out the scoring. I had to leave before the end with the tension in the stadium rising and just when I was beginning to get into the groove. But I saw enough to get the bug and I’ll definitely be back.