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2016-05-20 12:54:00 CET

More than sports – Me and my sheep

Alexander Brouwer always has a special guest in his bag

Playing uniform, sunglasses and balls. These are things every FIVB World Tour player has on the list when packing for the next tournament. But the suitcases are big, the athletes travel a lot, and sometimes they need something that reminds them of home. 

When Alexander Brouwer is going on FIVB World Tour, he has something in his bag that you would never expect. “It's something nobody except my girlfriend knows,” says the Dutchman. Not even his partner Robert Meeuwsen… It has something to do with a promise Alexander made many years ago: When Alex was born, he got a little pig and sheep from his family, since they were farmers. “I loved them and brought them with me everywhere I went,” he says. 

A picture from happy days: Alex Brouwer united with his beloved piggy. Credit: Alexander BrouwerA picture from happy days: Alex Brouwer united with his beloved piggy. Credit: Alexander Brouwer

How a little sheep became a world traveler

The little piggy was Alex’s favorite, so when he had to choose one to come with him on a trip, it was always the piggy. But one day during the holidays he lost the piggy – probably under the bed in a Hotel room in Lisbon. “From that moment it was just the little sheep and me. I was devastated for a couple days,” Alex remembers. Realizing the little sheep was the only one left, Alex made a vow: “I promised her I would never leave her alone,” he says. And that is how the little sheep got to travel the world.

Alex with his little sheep – which he guesses is a “her” after all these years. Credit Alexander BrouwerAlex with his little sheep – which he guesses is a “her” after all these years. Credit Alexander Brouwer

Homemade ornaments and iPhones

Alexander Brouwer is not the only player who has special items in his suitcase. Austrian Alexander Horst is sometimes traveling with homemade ornaments from his two children. At the moment, that gift is a heart which his daughter made for the him with colourful ironing beads. Aleksandrs Samoilovs is more pragmatic. The Latvian would never travel without his iPad, which he uses as ebook reader. “I like to read a lot during tournament,” he explains. Christopher McHugh especially needs a stable WiFi internet access, because the Aussie feels comfortable when streaming Australian Rules Football. “My most important connection to my home is actually my iPhone,” says Nadine Zumkehr. “To travel without it for a week would be quite hard for me, even if I don't like to admit it,” says the Swiss. That, by the way, is what most of the FIVB World Tour players say.

Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen celebrating their title at Poreč Majors Credit: Joerg MitterAlexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen celebrating their title at Poreč Majors Credit: Joerg Mitter

Traveling without his little sheep is something Alexander Brouwer does not want to imagine. For years she has secretly traveled with him to all the World Tour events. In Poland three years ago, she waited in the Hotel room until Alex came back as World Champion and, last year, she was there when he won his first World Tour gold at Poreč Major. This week she will be keeping him company at the FIVB Moscow Grand Slam and will be looking forward to travelling to the Olympic Games for the first time in August – not only as a lucky charm but because of the promise Alex made all those years ago.

But watch out, Alex. Maybe, this little sheep likes it there and decides to hide herself under the hotel bed just like the little piggy did in Libson.

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