A group of thirty four junior boys hockey players and four staff returned recently from a highly successful tour to Holland where they played matches against top clubs, as well as watching two games in the world’s best league involving our former pupil Sean Murray.
The group departed from Belfast International on a Friday morning and were straight into action that afternoon with matches for both the under 14 and 15 squads against the world famous HC Rotterdam. On arrival, most players were awestruck by the sheer magnitude of the facilities on offer, with eight astro turf pitches available for over 3,000 club members. The under 14s played first on the main stadium pitch, a brilliant experience for these young players who would later watch some of the world’s best players on the same stage. A competitive game finished with a 3-2 win for our Dutch hosts. Our under 15s were coming off the back of a terrific season which culminated earlier in that week with their Richardson Cup success and they played out a thrilling 4-4 draw with a talented Rotterdam team.
Both squads then settled in the stand to watch Sean and his teammates win 6-3 against Almere. A tired group returned to their Stayokay Hostel in the city and slept well before the next day’s activities.
Saturday was another action-packed day with ten-pin bowling in the morning followed by a period of free time and lunch in Den Haag, one of Holland’s most beautiful cities. The traditional Wallace trip to hockey specialists Dekker Sports was enjoyed by all with the Dutch Adidas hockey shirts proving especially popular with our group. From Den Haag we travelled to Abcoude Hockey Club situated just outside Amsterdam where we first shared some dinner with our hosts before the two games. Again both games were highly entertaining and competitive with our under 14s earning a hard fought 2-2 draw, whilst the under 15s lost 6-2 to a slightly older and more physical Abcoude side.
An enjoyable walking tour of Rotterdam started proceedings on the Sunday morning before lunch in the massive food market situated beside our hostel. It was then on to Den Haag again where we watched Sean and his HC Rotterdam teammates defeat Klein Zwitzerland 5-2 in the Hoofdklasse, with Dutch international Jeroen Hertzberger (four goals) and world class English player Simon Egerton on the score sheet. We were quickly on to the road again as we headed towards the excellent Hurley Hockey Club in Amsterdam for the Sunday evening games against their teams. Again the hospitality was outstanding and the games enjoyable with our under 14s losing 3-2 and our under 15s ending their tour with a 2-2 draw.
Our final day on tour ended with a coaching session at HC Rotterdam led by Sean Murray and the players were also privileged to be coached by New Zealand captain and Olympian Blair Tarrant, Spanish international Albert Bertrand and Irish international goal keeper Mark Ingram who all play their club hockey alongside Sean. The session ended with a high stakes goal-shooting competition for both age groups with Calum Flack (Under 14) and Jack Crawford (under 15) winning sticks donated by Australian World Cup winner Glenn Turner. A quick visit to Burger King (other fast foods are available) was enjoyed by all on the way to Schipol Airport where we caught our flight home.
All in all, the players were excellent ambassadors for Wallace throughout their stay in Holland and hopefully they have made memories and friendships which will last for life. A special mention must also go to Clyde Shanks from Clyde Shanks Planning Consultancy and Development who kindly sponsored our tour T shirts.
Last modified: May 14, 2019