Sydney, Oct. 14 (Reuters): Scores of thirsty sportsmen from dozens of football teams were having a Saturday night revel in their favourite holiday haunt of Bali when deadly bomb blasts rocked the Indonesian island’s main resort.
Professional and amateur club teams from places such as Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore had all flocked to the resort island to celebrate the end of another season with the promise of a good time.
Now the clubs are counting the cost — or trying to.
“Realistically we expect most, or at least half, or all the blokes, to be located somewhere in that morgue,” said Simon Quayle, coach of the Kingsley Senior Football Club, an amateur Australian Rules football team from Western Australia state.
He told the Australian Associated Press that seven of their members were missing and surviving players did not hold out much hope for their team-mates.
With cheap beer and accommodation, plenty of sunshine and even the hope of sex, Bali is considered a Mecca for football teams on their annual post-season trips. Among this year's revellers were rugby union teams from around the region competing in an annual 10-a-side tournament, where the emphasis is more on what happens after the game rather than during it.
Teams pay $400 to enter the two-day competition, now in its sixth year, with the winners receiving an engraved pewter mug for their success. But the promise of barbecued food and lots of beer is lure enough for most visiting teams.
This year’s tournament was only halfway through when the blasts ripped through the packed night club strip.
Seven players from the Hong Kong Football Club Vandals team and three supporters were in Bali over the weekend for the rugby tournament and were missing. The club is not releasing their names or nationalities.
“We’ve had a management team working overnight on communication, and we are renewing our efforts this morning,” said Allan Payne of the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union. Another club, from Forbes in rural Australia, said three of its players had not been found.
Other sporting teams experienced similar tragedies. Five members of the Coogee Dolphins rugby league team, from suburban Sydney, were already reported as dead with another missing. The wife of former Australian rugby league international Craig Salvatori is also reported as lost.
Salvatori told reporters in Australia he hadn’t seen his wife since she left him after dinner on Saturday night to go dancing at the Sari Club, which bore the blast brunt. Several players from top Australian Football League teams, including Fremantle, Melbourne and Geelong, were also in Bali but were reported as safe.