On Tuesday the 12th April 16 students, 5 parents and 2 staff members embarked on a trip of a lifetime. This opportunity had been 18 months in the making with parents working hard to fund raise to support each of the students taking part.

The primary objectives of the trip were to give each student the opportunity to participate in 3 coaching sessions hosted by Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid and Valencia, and to allow each player to play against football players from other countries.

We flew to the UK and had our first match against Bolten Wanderers less than 24 hours after landing from a 30-hour flight. The game was played at 8pm in very cold conditions. The girls did exceptionally well considering they had no time to settle in and prepare themselves. The girls had a great game 9-4, Kelli Brown and Emma Blaikie both scored 2 goals, Michaela Foster scored 4 goals and Jamie Foster scored 1 goal. The defence team were outstanding shutting down the opposition’s options and denying them opportunities to score.

Our first training session was with the Tottenham Hotspurs football club. The girls had 2 training sessions one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  The training facilities at Tottenham are beyond anything that we have here in NZ. The girls were lucky to train in the heated indoor training facility. The coaching staff worked on individual skills that would assist the girls with our 4 remaining matches and also when they return to NZ.

Our second game was against Ardingly College a private school that has a setting straight out of Harry Potter. It was again a very cold day with piercing winds that made it difficult for the girls to stay warm. The opposition were no match for our girls and it was another convincing win 11-1.  After the match we headed into London to do some sight seeing. The girls were very excited to be able to see the iconic buildings like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the House of Parliament and Trafalgar Square.

The next stop on our tour was Madrid, Spain. We were all looking forward to some warm weather. The first day we arrived we managed to do some sight seeing in the city of Madrid. The buildings and structures were amazing, the girls enjoyed the opportunity of walking around Madrid taking in the sights and also partaking in some shopping.

Training session number 2 was with the famous Real Madrid club. The training facilities again were amazing. The thing that stood out in both clubs are the number of junior club members that play. The systems and opportunities that both countries have to develop players are impressive. It is easy to see how both countries are powerhouses in the sport of football.  The coach again focused on some individual skills but this time the afternoon session worked on teamwork.

Our first game in Spain was against CF Aguilas. The Spanish team started the game with more intensity than the English sides. The skill level was also better than what we encountered in England. However, our team weathered the storm and started to dominate part way through the first half. The final score was 7-0. Kelli Brown scored 4 goals, Emma Blaikie and Michaela Foster scored 1 goal each and the opposition’s goalie scored an own goal.

During our tour we had an opportunity to visit some of the most amazing football stadiums in the World. In England we got to visit Old Trafford, In Real Madrid we visited Santiago Bernabeau, the home ground of Real Madrid football Club. We visited the stadium earlier in the day before our game. After our game we had the opportunity to watch Real Madrid play at Santiago Bernabeau. This stadium has the capacity to hold up to 90,000 people. It was an amazing experience, the crowd and atmosphere was something beyond anything we have experienced.

From Madrid we travelled to Valencia where we participated in our final coaching session with the Valencia Football Club. The last coaching session was at the Valencia training facilities. The girls again had 2 sessions a day to practise and consolidate the skills they had been taught in the previous 2 sessions. We played Valencia CF at the training facilities. The Spanish team were highly skilled and made our girls work hard to stay in touch.  The final score was 2-3 to Valencia. This was our first loss. The girls played well but didn’t have as many shots at goal as Valencia. Unlike the first 3 games we were not able to move the ball easily from the defence to the attacking end.

We were able to spend the afternoon visiting Malvarossa beach and sight seeing in the city of Valencia. Our last destination on the tour was Barcelona. We had an opportunity to visit La Sagrada Familia, one of the most famous Gaudi works. The church has been in construction since 1892. The share size and detail is breath taking.

We had our last game in Barcelona against La Roca football club. La Roca is 30km away from the city centre of Barcelona. Again the skill level and tactical play from the Spanish team were of a high level.  La Roca scored first 15 minutes into the game, we equalised not long after. As a team we struggled to adjust to the referee and lost our composure, this allowed La Roca to take advantage and score just before half time. Due to mounting injuries we had to make some changes at half time and play some players out of position. La Roca continued to apply pressure and moved the ball around the field making our defensive side work hard in the back. La Roca scored another goal to win the game 3-1.

Overall we won 3 games and lost 2. The girls were fantastic, they fully embarrassed every opportunity that was presented to them, wether it was training sessions, games, sight seeing, trying new food or having pack up and shift from one destination to the next.

The girls were fantastic while away. It was a very busy schedule with sight seeing, trainings and games. The touring group was Tayla Baylie, Emma Blaikie, Kelli Brown, Georgia Candy, Sophie Chaplow, Charlie-Grace Chapman, Laureth Chapman, Grace Cox, Zavier Duncan, Jamie Foster, Michaela Foster, Maia Handley, Katelyn Hayden, Chelsea Kelly, Holly Walsh, Johnelle Wereta.

Updates from Europe....
It was a very cold cold morning. We had a bit of wind, rain and near sub zero temperatures. We arrived to the game late as the venue was changed so only had a 20min warm-up yesterday. The opposition were not as strong as we had first thought. A lot of the team were on school holiday break so they had other students filling in. Micheala and Kelli were strong at the front scoring 9 goals between them. Johnelle was strong on the wing and was rewarded for her efforts by scoring a goal. Grace was so reliable and controlled the defensive end working with Sophie, Taylah and Zavia at the back to prevent the opposition from having any chance of scoring. Again our goalies Hollie and Georgia played well but at times they didn't see a lot of action however, they  stayed focused and constantly encouraged the team. Laureth, and Maia chased hard throughout the match making the opposition work on defense. Jamie, and Chelsea again worked tirelessly through out the game to deprive the opposition of any chances at goal. They also provided good ball for the strikers. Charlie-Grace, and Katelyn worked well again in the middle supporting the Emma, Kelli and the strikers at the front. Overall another good win by the girls. We are looking forward to some warmer weather in Spain.

What an amazing game the girls played tonight. 9-4 win against Bolten Wanderers. The girls are coping so well. We thought our game was 5pm tonight, but discovered at 1pm that the game was at 8pm. It was a bitterly cold night for the girls but one they showed a lot of heart and determination. Michaela Foster scored 4 goals, Emma Blakie 2, Kelli Brown 2 and Jamie Foster 1. Grace Cox and Taylah Baylie were outstanding in defense shutting down the oppositions options and denying them opportunities to score. Chelsea twinkle toes Kelly worked tirelessly in the middle. Charlie Grace showed so much guts and desire chasing everything around the pitch she was like the energizer bunny. Sophie shut down anyone coming down her side. Maia and Katelyn worked hard out the front moving the opposition around. Johnelle, Zavier and Laureth came on and maintained the same level of intensity and put pressure on the opposition. Hollie was gutsy on defense as was Georgia putting their bodies on the line to stop many of the goals going in. Overall Mrs Hita and I couldn't be any more prouder of the girls. 


Tottenham Spur Training Session