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Memories are made of this…

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By Chelsea Bodimeade & Floss Adams

Hockey tours to another country are always a great way to explore the world as well as develop your ability. Chelsea Bodimeade and Floss Adams were lucky enough to be part of the Queensland Schoolgirls trip to New Zealand. Here is their account of a hugely successful hockey tour

Our first game was against Wellington. This imposing stadium has a pitch built into the side of the mountain, with a yellow and black sign proclaiming that this is the home of “Wellington Hockey”. We were all blown away by the location and scenery, but we still managed to come away with a 4-1 victory.

After the match, we ate with the Wellington Capital Hockey team in the clubhouse after the match and socialised with the opposition. We were all very excited to have kicked off our tour with a victory, and even better … this was just the beginning.

Then it was on to Napier where we played two games against a Hawkes Bay team – a two-game series that local pundits called the Bledisloe of Hockey. Again, it was a beautiful setting – the matches were played on a hockey field in the middle of bright green, grass-covered hills that were dotted with sheep.

History was not on our side. Earlier sides from Queensland had only ever beaten the Hawkes Bay team in one of the games and we needed a clean sweep to bring the trophy home. However, this was to be our year as we triumphed in both matches to get our hands on the trophy.

It was a real battle, the weather was cold and rainy throughout and it was so windy that the coaches advised us not to throw aerials. For most players this was the first time we had walked out on the pitch to sing the national anthem. With ball boys as well, this felt like a true international.

Again, we shared dinner with the Hawkes Bay players in the clubhouse. We had been strictly warned about using our phones at the table and Chelsea fell foul of that rule when her phone was confiscated after she took a picture of the new silverware.

Our next challenge was another two-match series at the U21 Maori Games. Each match was played in a different location. We won the first game 2-0, despite the fact that we had to adapt our game to combat the Maori team’s physical advantage. The opposition was much older than our team and of a much bigger build. We had quickly figured out that the type of hockey played in New Zealand was very physical and the umpires were a lot less strict to call up on tackles than they were in Queensland.

The team quickly worked out, particularly in the two matches played against the U21 Maori team, that we had to use our leg speed and ball speed to the best of our ability. Throughout the tour we really developed these aspects of our game and enjoyed much success as a result.

The night after our first game we experienced Maori culture firsthand. We were welcomed into their sacred home where they all live. We were greeted with a dance and shown around their living quarters before enjoying a giant banquet in the dining hall. This was accompanied with traditional dances and the haka.

We were even taught a particular move in their traditional dance. In return, the Queensland girl’s and boy’s teams, along with all the coaching staff, prepared a song for our Maori hosts. It had to be ‘True Blue’ by John Williamson and ‘I am Australian’. I have to confess it was nowhere near as good as the Maori’s presentation.

Then came the much dreaded clean up. The boys cleared the tables and girls were on wash up duty. The groans echoed round the hall but changed to excitement when one of the home team produced a portable speaker. And before you know it, we were all having a jive together in the kitchen and completely forgot about the big task at hand. Once the clean up was over, we moved the dance party to the common area. We made a giant dance circle. Us Aussies showed the New Zealanders how it’s done. We danced to the Macarena and the Nutbush.

Then, it was the Maori’s turn to show us their something new. The ‘pukana’ is the word used to describe the funny face that the New Zealander’s pull. It’s particularly noticeable when the Haka is performed. So, by the end of the night, we might not have totally mastered the pukana, but we had an absolute blast while trying. I remember clearly the smiles on everyone’s faces that night.

So many of the girls developed friendships with the Maori girls that we never would have even thought to have happened. On the way home, the bus was buzzing with excited girls laughing about the events of the evening. That night was easily a highlight of the trip and a really unexpected special experience that few words can describe.

The next day we played the second match against the U21 Maori team. The final score was 1-1. This was our first and only draw of the tour. This game was most definitely one of the toughest. The energy within the team seemed very flat and exhausted. It was one of those games where nothing seemed to really go our way. At the end of the game, we all received a pair of traditional Maori earrings - a lovely reminder of a very special experience.

Then it was onto Auckland. We played the first game against the Auckland Hockey team at their home ground. The dugouts had quotes plastered along the walls and the clubhouse and dugouts were very sophisticated. The final score of this match was 6-0 but we had to work hard for the goals.

Our next match was against North Harbour. Both teams endured some of the worst weather of the trip; torrential rain and strong winds throughout the match. This time the backdrop to the pitch was the cityscape and we had a friendly cow in the neighbouring field who spent the time glued to the action on the pitch – the cow was one of our most avid spectators!

This match was played in quarters and had a very different atmosphere as the opposition were short of two players so Sammy J and Mel pulled on North Harbour jerseys and took to the field against us. It made for a bit of fun playing against our own teammates and seeing them in a different uniform, until Mel saved a goal on the line and it was game on. No more Mr. Nice Guy. We were the first to score followed by another quick goal by North Harbour. They also scored another two times to bring the score to 3-1 at the start of the fourth quarter. We had only ever been behind by one goal and not for very long throughout the entire tour but this game was most definitely an eye-opener.

Walking onto the field to start the fourth quarter, the girls came in for a huddle. We knew this was our penultimate game and we wanted to give it our all. We had to walk off the field at the end of the game knowing within ourselves that we gave it our all: we had to run for each other, play as a team, and work hard.

The must-win attitude worked, by the end of the game we finished with a win – it was 4-3 with the winning goal scored in a penalty corner on the full time buzzer.

This win, complete with that dramatic comeback, was really satisfying and a rewarding accomplishment knowing that we had come from behind and had to work extremely hard for the result we wanted.

At the end of the game we got to meet some of the Blacksticks team and also spent time socialising with some of the players from the North Harbour team. Floss (writes Chelsea) was voted as their player of the match. She was awarded a North Harbour polo shirt which she now even wears to bed. She treasures and loves that shirt.

In a second match against Auckland, we ran out satisfying 6-1 winners. The match was held at King’s College, where we had been staying for the past week so it felt like we were playing at our home ground for our final match of the tour. To say we were fired up is an understatement. The girls were ready and raring to go. We all wanted to pour everything we had left into the last game of this amazing tour. This was another one of my favourite games. Everyone played so well, we all worked together like a well-oiled machine and we never wanted the game to end because we were enjoying ourselves so much.

The tour has been operating for 13 years now and we were the first team to go through New Zealand undefeated. We were also the first team in seven years to bring home the U19 trophy after winning both test matches.

In between all these games, we created memories off the field as well. We went road tripping from Wellington to Napier, passing fields of sheep and an endless green hillside, jet boated through river rapids and visited Huka Falls in Taupo. We burnt rubber on the Luge Track in smelly Rotorua and ate ourselves sick at a buffet dinner next to Llama’s and cherry blossoms.

We had countless jams in hockey dugouts and on the bus, stayed in a prestigious Auckland boarding house and ate our meals in a dining hall that looked like something out of Harry Potter. We visited the Sky Tower in Auckland, had comprehensive pre-game meetings and post-game stats and played unlimited card games, pool and table tennis matches. We had movie nights and how could I forget bowling in our quirky Op Shop finds.

Whether on or off the field, we were always creating memories, coming closer to each other while playing a sport we love, meeting new people and seeing new sights. For some of us, it was our first time out of Australia and frankly, I can’t think of a better a way to spend a first trip overseas. In the company of some of your best mates playing a great sport like hockey. This tour truly was an unforgettable, rewarding and immensely enjoyable experience that none of us will forget.

 

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