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Canford Hockey tour to Barcelona

Canford Hockey tour to Barcelona
Karen Smith
Canford Hockey Tour to Barcelona 2019

During the October half term, the Canford 1st XI Girls’ Hockey Squad travelled to Barcelona for an eagerly anticipated five day mid-season tour. This was a fantastic opportunity for the team to play some excellent Spanish sides and also to bond together as a group.  Director of Hockey, Matt Collison, takes up the story:

We left the UK bright and early, in chilly Autumn conditions, before arriving in Spain to warm and sunny temperatures of 25 degrees!  Due to the nature of the schedule, we were off the plane, straight to check in and a quick bite, before heading to our first match.

Up in the hills north of Barcelona, Club de Terrassa is one of the most traditional and successful clubs in the region, with a very accomplished U18 side. Considering we had a day of travel in the legs, we started brilliantly, Beanie Culley pouncing on a mistake by one of their defenders to race clear and slot calmly past the advancing keeper for a 1-0 lead. Only a few minutes later Sophie Saunders doubled our lead with a drag flick into the top corner. We maintained a fast tempo, but mental fatigue began to develop, as CDT grew into the game and pulled a couple of goals back to level the match at 2-2. Still, unruffled, the team regained their composure and a lovely passing team move involving Martha Taylor, Molly Fairbairn and Imo Fairweather allowed Saunders to add the finishing touch for a very rewarding 3-2 victory. Post match refreshments were devoured, and tired heads were grateful of a good night’s sleep.

Day 2 gave us the opportunity to explore the local surroundings of Castelldefels, where we were based, on the outskirts of Barcelona amongst their famous beaches. A relaxed morning also included the opportunity to watch the Rugby World Cup semi-final victory for England over NZ in a nearby cafe. After lunch, we headed back to Terrassa, this time to play Club Egara. Another impressive club, like many of in this part of the world, we found ourselves playing an experienced U18 Girls’ team. A physical encounter ensued, with a game of few clear cut chances being settled by a rocket shot into the top corner by Molly Fairbairn, whose celebration was one of the moments of the tour, and captured successfully on camera! A narrow 1-0 win and the opportunity to face a different style of play to the previous day’s skilful side. Our fantastic tour rep Carolina took us to a highly anticipated Roller Hockey Match at FC Barcelona to celebrate. It is safe to say our expectations were blown out of proportion!

Day 3 provided a much needed rest after two games in a row. We had a light training session on the Sunday morning at the beautiful and prestigious Real Club de Polo de Barcelona, before enjoying an al fresco lunch whilst watching a game of Polo. We also visited the nearby Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona, to watch the roller hockey team play in one of their league matches. This was a great occasion, with some partisan supporters enjoying a 3-2 victory for Barca, whilst we were able to admire the high level of skill associated with a completely different live sporting event. We then took the scenic cable car from Montjuic Hill to Port Vell, marvelling at the fantastic views of the harbour. A short walk around the marina allowed some sightseeing, before heading back to the hotel for dinner.

Day 4 began with an open top bus tour of the central Barcelona region, enabling the tour party to jump on and off at a few major tourist attractions. The highlight was the opportunity to see the Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family) world famous unfinished temple designed by Antoni Gaudi; a most impressive spectacle. We also enjoyed an early afternoon walk up the iconic Las Ramblas via the food market to the Plaza Catalunya. A chance to freshen up before we headed to Club Junior in St Cugat. Widely recognised as the toughest opponents we were likely to face, they had a few players missing in the first quarter due to travel problems. However, they got to full numbers and we had a wonderful final match of the tour at another club with excellent facilities. Sophie Saunders and Izzy Woodward put us two goals to the good, whilst Sasha Witter made some smart saves in goal. Junior began too turn one the style in the final quarter, when our legs understandably looked weary, and pulled the score back to 2-2. However, not to be outdone, and finding that inner resilience that has served them very well throughout their time at Canford, a nicely worked short corner saw Saunders finally find a way past their talented keeper as we secured a last minute 3-2 win. The parents in the stand went suitably wild, enjoying the tour experience as much as their daughters and the staff!  A lovely dinner at Casanovas Italian restaurant ended the tour fittingly.  Everyone contributed greatly, but Lizzy Balls was voted Top Tourist, Sophie Saunders was Players’ Player and Holly Hazzard was the Coaches’ Player of the Tour for a high level of consistency throughout.

Day 5 saw us leave the Spanish sunshine and return revitalised to the English winter, undoubtedly in better shape than when we left. The trip held many essential values for the girls. Not least the playing side, which offered a range of challenges not experienced on our English schools’ circuit, but the evident camaraderie, team spirit, and benefits of experiencing different cultures cannot be underestimated. It was a fantastic touring opportunity, and one that will live long in the memories for this talented playing group. Many thanks to our sponsors, Carolina Bamballi from FTI Sports Tours and the parents for their exceptional support.

Photographs from the tour can be found here:

Canford Hockey Tour to Barcelona


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