I write this one week on from the most exciting, social and fun experience of the Manchester MBA so far. No it wasn’t another stimulating piece of academia or even internship related shenanigans. It was instead the annual MBA Tournament (MBAT) held at HEC Paris.
The MBAT is a sporting tournament held every year held in the countryside outside the French capital. Teams from the top business schools in Europe and further afield compete in events varying from touch rugby to billiards to poker to karting mixed with the inevitable evening drinking sessions – it is an MBA event after all!
The action starts on the first day when all the teams, having travelled by planes, trains and converted London buses, converge on campus at the same time sporting their team’s distinctive liveries. For Game of Thrones aficionados it is reminiscent of the banners gathering for war. The bright oranges of Rotterdam merge with the greens of Insead, the whites of IE, the purples of Manchester (yes really, if you come to the school you’d better get used to that colour) and the various hues of blue that represent Oxford, Cambridge, LBS and HEC.
First event up for me was the poker and the biggest personal disappointment of the weekend. Having got off to a blistering start I made the final two on my table with 2/3rds of the chips under my control. Unfortunately my inexperience caused me to reign in my aggression and my opponent was able to turn things round to make the final. Lesson learned.
Day two began with an early, hungover, start and the group stage of the football against Cambridge. My role was mainly to offer encouragement from the sidelines and provide another pair of eyes for the captain. I did, however, get a run out for ten minutes at the end of a 4-0 victory which was great until a couple of kicks reminded me I’m not so young anymore.
Next up, after a spell watching MBS’s touch rugby and womens’ football teams in action, was the cricket, with 90% of the players on all teams seemingly from either India or Pakistan. We played Insead and while I enjoyed the experience I didn’t see much action as our top four batsmen racked up a record score before we saw the game out by catching the bulk of their team on the boundary.
Following this, though, was the highlight of the weekend. Dodgeball, for which I was team captain. For those who are not aware, this sport involves hurling rubberised balls at the opposing team and diving around trying to avoid blows to painful parts of the anatomy. It was a tale of a rag-tag team coming together on the day to steal the prize from under the nose of the big boys. An underdog story if you will…
A straightforward win against Rotterdam in the preliminaries….A new player spotted with a golden arm and picked off the sidelines for the quarter final against the LBS….A disastrous start, falling 5-2 down….Despair on the sidelines….A spectacular high risk catch starting the comeback…Back from the dead with a narrow victory….The semi’s against the light blues of Cambridge….Back and forth before MBS claim victory….The final against the catsuit wearing Oxford….A mouthed “you’ll lose” from the opposing captain, wearing his favourite stars and stripes underwear, at the handshake….Another poor start, men down early….The star player picked on and picked off….3-1 down and almost out….A fingertip catch from Chirag pulling a man back for us….Another match winning catching chance narrowly fumbled….Down to a sudden death one on one….Jason verses Captain America….An exchange of fire for what seems an eternity….Balls whistling by, missing flesh by millimetres….The clock ticking down….Oxford will win on countback if there is no outright victor….The final minute….A ball is thrown….It’s at throat height….Jason takes the catch….The crowd explode….Jubilation….Pitch invasion….The most intensive display of man-love this side of Brokeback Mountain….MBS take the trophy.
Sadly this, aside from the celebratory drinks, was it for me at MBAT. I had to return to the UK a day early for a friend’s wedding so I missed the fun and games of the final day. MBS performed respectably with good performances from the football, cricket, table tennis and babyfoot teams but sadly no additional trophies to take home. An overall position of fifth in the medals table was ours.
So will the MBAT experience enhance my CV, my personal network and give me valuable new skills to take into my post MBA career? Well, probably not, but it was a heck of a good time and I wouldn’t have missed it for all the distinction grades in the world.