2 months ago
By Mike Rushmere
Thirsk U14 girls returned to Holland in August.
Three years after the club's first International tour, Thirsk U14 girls returned to Holland, this time in Amsterdam to play in the European Youth Hockey championships from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th August. This is organized by former Dutch captain and Olympic Gold medalist Sander Van Der Weide, and is run as a side event to the Euro Hockey Championships.
We flew in on Friday afternoon, found our “luxurious” accommodation and prepared ourselves on one of the 5 pitches for the first match against Pijnaker. This was to be a very hard opener, and it would be fair to say that they were the better team, with fast passing, and constant pressure on our girls. With the games lasting 20 minutes each way, the girls did so well to defend wave after wave, including numerous penalty corners. Jamie, Molly, Tilly and Alexa scrambled valiantly, and Cara made so many saves to keep the scores level. After 36 minutes we got our first chance, only to see their goalkeeper save Amy’s effort. We had a pc which went to plan, but again their goalkeeper saved. The game ended 0-0, a result which would look better by Sunday, as Pijnaker went on to win the competition.
The girls had plenty of energy left to enjoy much singing and dancing at the evening’s disco, more than a match for everyone, and improving European relations with the German boy’s teams. The night was also memorable for a 3 hour thunderstorm, which led to some frantic drying in Saturday’s early morning sunshine.
On Saturday morning we played Zutphen, and this time we were the better side, creating several good chances through Amy and Fern, but failing to convert. At the other end Zutphen managed to convert a rare chance and took a 1-0 lead. The girls tried and tried but it wasn’t to be their day, despite great performances from Millie, and Olivia, we could not get the deserved goal.
We played Schaerweijde next, who looked like a very strong team. They took an early lead, but almost immediately we replied thanks to Amy’s clever finish. The scores were level at half time, and into the second half, with Molly having a fine game in defence, and Cara making more fine saves. But they broke the deadlock with an exceptional reverse stick shot, and quickly scored 3 more to beat us 5-1.
We spent the rest of the day at the Euro hockey Championships, watching England’s women win 4-1, with some great chanting and flag waving, and which was followed with many great selfies with the players afterwards. We also saw Belgium’s men impressively beat Austria, before seeing how fanatical the Dutch are about hockey. The stadium was full with 10,000 there to watch their mens team beat Spain 7-1, despite an awesome performance from the Spanish goalkeeper. The atmosphere was incredible, and even another heavy downpour could not dampen the Dutch or our spirits, with our girls competing “Glee” style with their singing on the coach home.
We needed a result against Barendrecht on Sunday morning, but maybe we were suffering from tiredness a little, we conceded first. Connie and Tilly put in strong performances and despite Cara making two fine double saves we conceded a second. In the second half we pulled a goal back thanks to Millie’s fine run, and did have other chances to equalize, but it was not to be.
The girls were desperate to get a win, and came out strongly against Ede, and there was much relief, when Sadie latched onto a cross from Millie to open the scoring. Holly played a great through ball, and this time Amy was able to beat the goalkeeper to complete the 2-0 win.
The final classification game was to see the Thirsk girls end the tournament with a 5-1 win, thanks to Tabby, Millie and a hat-trick from Amy, the last of which was a spectacular shot into the top corner.
Following the presentation, we took to the astro once more for a competitive game of ‘improvised’ rounders. Well done to Holly’s team for winning and playing the game in such a ‘fair’ way. There was still energy left for more singing at the airport before catching our evening flight home.
Despite only having a squad of 13 players (12 for the first game), the girls all played there part against talented teams, and in some warm conditions. There were lessons to be learnt from our opponents, whose basic skills, fitness, speed to react, and pressurizing all superior to ours.
It was a great experience for everyone, and fantastic to see the girls having so much fun enjoying all aspects of the tour. They represented the club so well, and despite the weather trying to spoil things at times, a memorable time was had by all. Thank you to those who sponsored the great kit which we had, and a huge thanks to the team of parents who all played their part in ensuring it went off so smoothly and successfully.
See the photo album for some pictures from the trip.
Updated 12:02 - 28 Aug 2017 by Mike Rushmere