Today saw the commencement of the European leg of the tour with the group really looking forward to mixing it on the field with traditional foes Netherlands, Belgium & France. Hopes were high that we had left the worst of the weather behind in England as the group was met with crisp clear skies and bright sunshine when we disembarked in Rotterdam. My how quickly that hope was dashed.... More on that later.
After a lengthy drive from Rotterdam the first stop was every hockey playing shopaholic's dream (including the author) a visit to Hockey Republic which was been described before as a nirvana of every piece and brand of equipment currently known to the hockey fraternity. After forty five minutes of mayhem the group emerged carrying significantly more bags than when they entered.
Special mention must go to two of the group that somehow mistook the shoe store next to Hockey Republic as the hockey store and proceeded to purchase fashionable "spectator" shoes.
From here it was off to the first game in the Netherlands against Leusden a middle size club who's grounds set up and club rooms are the envy of all bigger teams in Australia.
Girls 0 - 5
In their first experience of playing against the Dutch style of play and against a formidable and well drilled opponent the girls set out to further build on their patterns of play whilst concentrating on three specific elements to make life as difficult as possible for the opposition. At the opening whistle the temperature on the scoreboard indicated that it was 0 degrees and this hampered the strong start that the girls had hoped for and were under pressure constantly thought the first quarter of the game going three goals down. Slowly as the half wore on the girls were able to refocus on the plans and for the second half of of the half dominated the possession with well worked switches, dumps, presenting to the ball and early one touch passes. Early in the second half the temperature dropped to -1 and the bench was reduced to three as the girls lost two players resulting from the extreme temperature. Gamely they battled on scrambling to repel wave after wave of the opposition attack which they did for the majority of the second half until fatigue played a part in two further late goals to the opposition. The girls should all be very proud of their efforts in the conditions against a very good hockey team.
Boys 4 - 2
Playing simultaneously with the girls the boys also hade to brave the " chilly arctic" conditions. The boys started strong and were able to put the opposition on the back foot with an early goal. This seemed to sting the opposition into action and they dominated the possession with immense pressure and tackling and due to some costly defensive lapses were able to first equalise and then score a go ahead goal to take a 2-1 lead to the halftime break. In the second half by contrast the boys came out and despite the desperation of the opposition were able to execute their game plan clinically to score three unanswered goals to run out with a well deserved victory.
Goals; Max 2, Olly & Jason.