Handball is a fast and furious seven-a-side sport, with anyone having grown up playing the game able to point to numerous broken bones and fractures earned in the course of matches. At the elite level, nations from across Europe, South America, Asia and Africa compete for dominance at the Olympic Games and the World Championships. The small but influential nation of Qatar on the Arabian Peninsula earned the right to host the International Handball Federation’s 24th Men’s Handball World Championships this January and February, a massive event that saw 24 national teams compete in 88 matches to a total attendance of over 300,000.
The championships were held across multiple venues, with three purpose built just for the event, including the 15,300 seat Lusail Sports Arena. The Arena was the backdrop for the most important games of the championships, as well as the spectacular opening and closing ceremonies. Australia’s David Atkins Enterprises produced the celebrations, with technical assistance from Auditoria’s Scott Willsallen. With experience earned on major sporting events around the globe including Olympic and Commonwealth Games, Sydney’s The P.A. People was chosen to provide communications services throughout the championships.
The P.A. People needed to be onsite as the Arena itself was being finished, carefully installing the communications infrastructure that would help the championships run smoothly. “The venue was still being built as we were installing,” explained Scott Davidson, Senior Systems Engineer – Event Communications for The P.A. People. “We had to pay close attention to detail, as our work not only had to run the event, but also stand up to the installation work happening around it.” With reliability, functionality and flexibility as the key performance requirements, The P.A. People chose multiple products from the Clear-Com range of wired and wireless communications solutions.
Running a closed fibre optic cabling loop and additional copper cabling around the Arena, The P.A. People deployed 32 V-Series key stations and selected expansion panels throughout control rooms and anywhere extensive comms monitoring and switching was required. Key stations with 24 digital pushbuttons plus expansion panels were stationed at show call and operations control, as well as with the artistic and technical directors. Other vital staff including broadcast, announcers and operations were provided with 24 button stations. The V-Series panels incorporate digital signal processing, 10-character displays, Listen Again memory, and native IP technology in an acoustically controlled housing that ensures every word comes through loud and clear.
An Eclipse-Median system frame fitted with 48 analogue ports sat at the heart of the Ceremonies system, its dual redundant processors and power supplies ensuring that nothing would interrupt the shows. Three 32 port Eclipse-PiCo system frames also made the journey to Qatar and supported the matches themselves in the smaller venues.
To facilitate stage and artist management at the Arena’s entrances, Clear-Com’s digital partyline HelixNet master stations were strategically located around the ground under bleachers. Event staff wore HBP-2X HelixNet Beltpacks cabled back to HelixNet HMS-4X four channel main stations. In addition to the opening and closing ceremonies, the IHF also put on special concerts by international artists after selected matches, with the Arena hosting concerts by Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams, Jason Derulo and a host of local artists. The closing ceremony raised the bar further with appearances by Kylie Minogue and Taio Cruz.
Further comms coverage was achieved with the use of Clear-Com’s Tempest2400 MasterBelt wireless beltpacks. Staff wearing Tempest BeltStations were free to work across the Arena floor without physically hindering themselves or others, as the Tempest Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum system ensured that their wireless communication didn’t interfere with any existing RF from wireless microphones or IEMs. Tempest’s Redundant Data Transmit, which sends each packet of audio data twice on different frequencies, ensured that floor staff could always rely on uninterrupted audio communication.
Clear-Com’s flexibility ensured that integrating The P.A. People comms system into other venue infrastructure was simple and effective. “The Arena was fitted with state-of-the art equipment in-house,” continued Scott Davidson. “It was easy to integrate with the Clear-Com gear. We also incorporated third-party UHF radios into the Clear-Com system.”
After two huge Ceremonies and 88 matches, Scott was pleased to report that the Clear-Com system didn’t miss a beat. “Reliability is key in an environment like Qatar,” said Scott. “When The P.A. People are operating overseas and we don’t necessarily have access to the level of resources we’re used to, at our fingertips, reliability is high on the list of key reasons to go with Clear-Com. The P.A. People has an independent approach. If we see a product that suits someone’s needs, we go for it, and in this case we used Clear-Com.”
Clear-Com and The P.A. People weren’t the only winners at Qatar 2015. Favourite France took home the gold medal, home heroes Qatar a record-setting silver, and Poland the bronze. Scott and The P.A. People have already packed down and shipped their Clear-Com equipment off to multiple sites around the world, ready for the next big match on the world stage.