Football after the lockdown

Kavli Warriors

Difficulty    

by Christian Möhle

In recent days my daily walk to the coffee machine has become ever more painful as Guan would spot me and start to yell at me (with a big smile in his face): “Christian, write your blog post!”. So here I am, finally finding some time to write my first blog post ever. It won’t be about qubits or any other physics topic, but rather about our glorious football team, the Kavli Warriors.

The name of the team goes back to times long before I arrived in Delft, when a group of people within the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience (comprising of nowadays Bio- and Quantum Nanoscience and QuTech) decided to spice up their PhDs/postdocs by competing in the Monday evening football competition organized by the sports center. Sadly, over the years, the number of team members from the Bio- and Quantum Nanoscience departments has reduced continuously. By now, the team consists almost entirely of QuTech people so that the name “QuTech Warriors” would be more appropriate.

To give a little bit more insight into the Monday evening football competition: it is a year-lasting tournament in which teams of 7 players compete against each other. The tournament consists of a few groups where the teams in every group play their matches at different times on Monday evening. The matches take place on a weekly basis on the fields of the sports center (not far from QuTech) and they last for 60 min each. After playing every team in the group once (pre-season), the group is divided in a top and a bottom half and the teams in both halves play each other again (main season). In the end, there is a short final tournament between the winners of the top and bottom halves in every group.

A TU Delft football match
Us in action during a match. Maarten in his typical role as bench warmer.

The competition is largely popular among the students in Delft, but essentially everyone with a valid sports center subscription can register a team. This is a rather painful process as it requires someone from the team to be physically present. Formally, the registration opens at 8 am, but in order to have a decent chance to get a spot in a group that plays at a reasonable time one has to be there around 6 am (some people camp in the sports center the night before).

When I started my PhD in Delft almost three years ago, one of the first questions my former colleague Fokko asked me was: “Have you ever played football?”. Answering this question with “Yes, quite a bit” caused him to drag me along to one of the Monday matches and introduce me to the team  –  looking back, an action that had an extremely positive impact on my overall PhD experience, but more about this later.

Early days in the team were tough, mostly because I had to realize that students can run very fast. Also the fact that the team size was large and that different players would show up for the matches every Monday did not exactly help to form a very homogeneous team.  Nevertheless, playing football once per week helped me to forget the struggles in the lab for a while and gave me the chance to meet a bunch of fantastic people from inside and outside of QuTech. Occasional defeats (I will never forget those 15:0 setbacks against the Poldervogels) were washed away with some beers in the third half and afterwards the motivation was high again for the upcoming match.

Discussing football strategies
On paper (white board) we won every match this season.

After my first year in the team, and especially before the start of this year’s season, we decided to foster the team spirit by organizing some summer practice matches where we also went over a few tactical things. This had led to some great successes, being able to beat most teams or otherwise offering them close fights. If corona hadn’t stopped us I am sure we would have won the competition this year.  Joke aside, the most important thing for us all is to have fun and do some sports together.

What I enjoyed most about my years in the team (aside from playing football itself) was to meet and connect with many different people. Doing sports together is a great way to get in touch with fellow PhDs or postdocs you would otherwise pass by in the busy QuTech corridors. Especially it allows to meet people from other roadmaps, helping to keep QuTech as entangled as possible.

To demonstrate the diversity in the team I list below the pre-corona members and their group affiliations:

  • Gustavo Amaral – Tittel lab
  • Francesco Borsoi – Kouwenhoven lab
  • Kaushik  Chakraborty – Wehner group
  • Tim Coopmans – Elkouss group
  • Antariksha Das – Tittel lab
  • Maarten Degen – Taminiau lab
  • Sebastian de Bone – Elkouss group
  • Sjoerd Loenen – Taminiau lab
  • Stefano Lovato – non-QuTech
  • Jorge Marques – Di Carlo lab
  • Christian Moehle – Goswami lab
  • Constantijn Molengraaf – QuTech project manager
  • Nikos Papadopoulos – Goswami lab
  • Luca Petit – Veldhorst lab
  • Thijs Stavenga – Di Carlo lab

It so happens that many of us approach their final PhD/postdoc years and therefore we are looking for new players. If you are in QuTech and interested in joining the team, do not hesitate to contact me or any other member. The sports center has just opened again and we started to play some practice matches on Mondays. Sounds fun? Join us.

Football after the lockdown
First practice after the “lockdown”, keeping voldoende 1.5 m afstand

About the author

Christian MoehleChristian is a PhD student in the Goswami lab at QuTech. When he is not busy braiding Majoranas around each other, you can find him on the football field or in the crossfit gym (I wish). At night he enjoys to trick people into playing shot darts with him, a particularly sophisticated version of the game. Occasionally he spends time with his girlfriend (playing shot darts as well).

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