On Easter Sunday, 2013, 86 pupils and 10 members of staff travelled to Valkenburg, Holland. Squads included 1 boys football team, 1 girls netball team and 5 hockey teams: 2 girls and 3 boys.
Having been to Valkenburg before, I knew what to expect, but for the majority of players it was a fantastic surprise to arrive at an excellent hotel in a location which allowed us to walk to many local amenities and fixtures, and where the staff were friendly and accommodating. Having been shown to our rooms (some with Jacuzzi baths!), we went for a walk around town and were treated to a historical and cultural commentary by Mr Birch.
An early night was needed, as the next 4 days were to be jam-packed with activity. During this time pupils enjoyed both recreational activities and top-class coaching, alongside competitive fixtures. We played lazertag in the caves (that was my personal favourite) and then went tobogganing. Whilst the toboggans look fun-sized, they can get up to some speed and on the corners the ‘not putting your breaks on’ chicken game almost backfired on some (no naming names Mr Marwood). We also had some free time in Maastricht, went bowling and visited a fun pool. Both injured parties – Mr Jeffrey and Eddie Cooke, donned plastic ziplock type bags to put on their broken arms to be able to join in. Safe to say somersaulting off a 10 foot diving board did reduce their effectiveness! Mr Marwood and Mr Hall didn’t get a chance to do any diving, however, as they spent most of their time in the continental style saunas.
Sport was the main reason for our tour and with this in mind, players worked extremely hard during all of their training sessions. Hockey and football was led by Dutch coaches and both the standard of coaching and the facilities we trained at were fantastic. In Holland the many community-funded clubhouses and pitches are a hub for community focus and are an example to us English of what could be possible. The netball girls had 2 intensive days of coaching from England Netball coaches and were commended for the way they applied themselves and performed. Miss Ewens and Miss Cooper were impressed by the way they ‘stepped up to the plate’ and look forward to their continued efforts next season.
The hockey and football boys played various Dutch opponents and along with cheerleader Mrs Poll and photographer Miss Newey gelled well to produce some very respectable performances. The footballers were undefeated, as were the U14B hockey team. It must have been Mr Hall’s fantastic coaching expertise that afforded them so much success! Special mention must go to the U16 boys hockey team who played some giant ‘U16 year olds’ and were not embarrassed. The standard of hockey they produced, under Mr Birch’s guidance was more in-keeping with a 1st XI club team than a school team.
The girls were not to be outdone, as they improved both individually and collectively. Notably, the U16s won the MasterClass tournament and thanked Mr Walker for leading them to this success by making him wear a long, orange wig to the disco. Good job girls!
Many thanks to the staff who gave their time and energy during this tour, to the pupils for their exemplary behaviour and sportsmanship, and to the parents who supported the tour. Definitely one of the most rewarding and enjoyable tours I have ever been on.