115 intrepid Junior players and parents embarked on Old Cranleighan Hockey Club’s inaugural Junior hockey tour to Barcelona in December, representing the club in the under 12 boys and girls and under 14 boys and girls competitions.
Departing early on Friday morning, the teams raced to Real Club De Polo for their first matches scheduled around 12pm. Despite minor delays, all players arrived punctually, eager to kick off a weekend filled with exhilarating hockey and exploration.
Throughout the weekend, our teams faced off against a diverse array of opponents from across Europe, including Club De Campo, KHC Leuven, Real Club De Polo, and Racing Zaragosa. Additionally, they competed against fellow English teams such as Guildford and Sevenoaks. The under 12 teams engaged in the traditional 7-a-side format, while the under 14s embraced the 9-a-side format on a three-quarter pitch. The players reveled in this format, delivering commendable performances and achieving positive results throughout the trip.
The hockey facility at Real Club De Polo proved to be incredible, boasting two sand-based pitches and one water-based stadium pitch. Additionally, the facility featured an equestrian center, a variety of bars, and a restaurant, providing a comprehensive and enjoyable experience for all participants.
Beyond the hockey matches, the tour provided an enriching cultural experience as players explored the vibrant city of Barcelona. Visits to iconic landmarks like the Sagrada Familia, leisurely strolls along the beach, and exploration of other famous tourist sites enriched the players’ understanding and appreciation of Spanish culture. Importantly, the tour fostered camaraderie among the club’s boys and girls, encouraging lasting friendships that extend beyond the hockey pitch.
Another highlight of the trip was the opening ceremony, where all of the children were warmly greeted by the members of Real Club De Polo. Plenty of high-fives were exchanged, marking the beginning of a delightful friendship between us and the Spanish hosts.
The tour not only strengthened bonds among players but also provided parents with ample opportunities for socialization. Parents from all teams came together, forging new connections and enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of Barcelona. The supportive network formed during the tour enhances the sense of community within our hockey club.
Overall, the tour proved to be a resounding success, leaving a lasting impression on players, parents, and organizers alike. The overwhelmingly positive feedback has underscored the desire to make the Barcelona tour an annual tradition. Planning for the 2024 tour has already commenced, reflecting the enthusiasm and anticipation within the club.
A special appreciation goes to Yasmin Weeks, James Wallingford, Julia Chester, and Lisa Ruocco for their exceptional organization and management of their respective age groups throughout the weekend. Their dedication ensured smooth coordination and memorable experiences for all participants. Additionally, heartfelt gratitude is extended to James King, Mark Preston, Matt Heslop, and Graham Grace for their unwavering coaching support. Their passion and commitment were instrumental in guiding our teams to success and exemplify the spirit of our club. And last but by no means least, a huge thank you from all involved to Helen Hawes for ensuring the teams looked incredible in OCHC kit, and for supporting the tour from the outset.