Unique sports and music festival comes to Capital

Edinburgh University netball player Vicky Knapp, Chris Scott from Watsonians rugby club and QMU volleyball player Jessica French promte the festival in the shadow of Edinbugh Castle
Edinburgh University netball player Vicky Knapp, Chris Scott from Watsonians rugby club and QMU volleyball player Jessica French promte the festival in the shadow of Edinbugh Castle
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THERE’S less than a week to go. The bands are booked, the sports stars are confirmed, and 120 tons of sand has been sourced from a quarry in Fife to turn a city playing field into a beach volleyball court fit for Olympians.

Now all that is required to make the first ever Edinburgh 7s Festival a huge success is the sunshine.

Combining amateur and elite sport, live music, food and drink, the festival at Meggetland promises to offer something for the whole family and is billed as a “mass participation” event.

The unique weekend will feature seven sports – rugby, touch, netball, football, 
hockey, volleyball and dodgeball – in which local teams can compete.

But those not feeling particularly sporty will not be left out. They can sit back and watch others do the hard work during the British Invitational Masters Beach Volleyball Tournament – featuring pro players including Olympian Shauna Mullin – and the GB7s elite rugby.

And even if watching sport is a bit too energetic for some, they can simply relax with a beer or glass of wine and listen to some live music while soaking up the atmosphere and sampling some of the food stalls.

To add to the “festival vibe”, Meggetland will be turned into a campsite overnight for those who want to get as much of the action as possible.

Gordon Hood, one of the event organisers, explains: “There’s a real festival vibe, with live music all weekend.

“We have a large marquee selling alcohol – there’s a party, believe me there’s a party!

Gordon, a rugby player manager and former model – who was once named Company magazine’s most eligible bachelor – first came up with the idea after attending a similar festival in London three years ago.

“Sevens events have traditionally always been watching rather than participation,” says 34-year-old Gordon, from Polwarth.

Gordon has teamed up with Andy Miller, team manager of the Scotland U20s and owner of Super Soccer Sevens, to bring his idea to life.

And to make sure the “ambitious” festival runs smoothly, they have enlisted the help of event and sponsorship manager Gilly Bain.

Twenty-eight-year-old Gilly admits organising the event has been a challenge.

“This is a huge event,” she says. “When I had my first proper sit-down with Gordon to go through it all, I thought it was an incredibly ambitious project.

“However, I’m very careful about the projects I work on because they have my name and reputation attached so I really sat down with them and went through the logistics and health and safety and decided that as much as it’s a massive event, it’s do-able.”

She adds: “But I know that it’s massively dependant on the weather. If it’s a sunny day I would hopefully expect a couple of thousand and we are hoping to get a lot of families. Creating a kids zone was very important to me as a lot of my friends have kids.”

The event kicks off next Friday with a schools festival where around 1000 youngsters will take part in football, touch, dodgeball and volleyball.

On Saturday the elite volleyball players will take to the specially-prepared court on the playing field, while amateur teams will be able to try their hand afterwards at all the seven sports on offer.

Sunday is a dedicated family day, with organisers ensuring that the special kids zone will keep children entertained.

A fun fancy dress dodgeball competition will also take place, while finals for club, student and social levels of all seven sports will be held the same day.

As well as worrying about the weather forecast, organisers have one other slight concern about the festival – the

volleyball court.

“Let me tell you, you create a beach volleyball court with great difficulty!” laughs Gordon. “And I’m not quite sure how we are getting rid of the sand afterwards.”

Tickets for the festival can be purchased by visiting the website www.edinburgh7sfestival.com. Under 12s go free.