By Emma Nelson (Captain) and Mabel Watson (Vice-Captain), Block 4
Over half term the U15 girls’ hockey team went on a tour to Holland, “the hockey capital of the world”. We travelled by coach to Dover and then ferry across to Calais where we started the drive to Rotterdam.
On arrival we went straight to the first of our training sessions, led by Mariela on the main water based astro at HC Rotterdam, the biggest hockey club in Holland. We warmed up and did some drills, focusing on shooting and attacking play. After training we travelled to our accommodation in the centre of Rotterdam where we were then able to relax and have a very well deserved dinner.
Day two was upon us before we knew it and we were back to HC Rotterdam for our first Dutch coaching session, led by three of their best members. In this training session we learnt to eliminate a player and we really gelled as a team.
We learnt new attacking drills from and will be able to use these in training back in Bedales. The coaches gave us important things to work on such as position and angle before the pass, transferring and crossing the ball. They based our training on these aspects and showed us how we could improve in these areas.
After training we spent a couple of hours at the Tiki water park. We all thoroughly enjoyed the park and braved the wild water slides! This really got our adrenaline pumping and set us up for our first match that same evening.
This was against HC Schiedam who where a very strong local side. Unfortunately, we lost the game but the final score didn’t reflect our overall play and effort. Our play was strong and many aspects of our game were greatly improved as we tried to put in to practice the new skills we’d been working on.
In the first few minutes of the second half Fleur Donovan scored an excellent goal, raising the teams spirits. Playing against a side of greater technical ability proved to be a great learning opportunity. At the end of the match Emma Nelson (our captain), was awarded player of the match for her strong defensive play. After the game we had dinner with our hosts and then had a very fun disco.
On the morning of the penultimate day, we had another training session led by two Dutch coaches where we worked on some challenging technical skills which we successfully used in our second game later that day. We achieved a lot from these sessions and really enjoyed them.
Later that day we journeyed to Amsterdam where we experienced a wonderful view of the city as we rode down the canals on a boat cruise. We then visited a traditional Dutch Pancake House and enjoyed some delicious waffles and pancakes.
We then headed to VMHC Cartouche for our final match. It proved to be less of a challenging game and once again the experience gained was much more important than the result. Our defensive play was very intense, while our attacks were supporting very well beyond the 25 and using many technical skills.
Individually all players gained a lot of experience and all improved their play. This really showed through in the final game where Emma Nelson and Emily Smith gained players of the match. Our team worked on tactics and taking aggressive, defensive short corners and worked very well attacking in the D and drawing out defenders. At the end of the tour Alisia Leach was also awarded player of the tour by us all. She worked very well as a team member and used her great skill and technique in the two matches.
Overall it was an incredible trip and we had a great time both on and off the pitch. Many thanks to Mariela and Caz for organising an amazing tour!