THE Wallace High School boys' under 13 and 14 squads recently returned from a successful tour to Den Haag in the Netherlands where they had the opportunity to play and be coached in one of the world's biggest hockey nation.
The tour started with a coaching clinic at the world famous HGC club where the boys were coached by FIH Young Player of the Year and Great British international Ashley Jackson and also Barry Middleton, British captain and a regular inclusion in the World Hockey Xl. lain Lewers, who has been instrumental in building up strong links between Wallace and HGC was also present in what turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip.
On the playing front there were several competitive games. The under 13s defeated HC Rotterdam 10-2 at their home venue. This is the world's biggest hockey club, with over 2500 members and an impressive eight astro turf hockey pitches. Ryan Getty was the star of the show with a superb four goals, whilst Patrick Anderson was delighted to get on the score sheet with his first for the season. They also played against HDM in Den Haag and were unlucky to be defeated 5-4 in what could only be described as a thrilling game. Jonny Scott led the way with a well taken two goals, whilst Alex Nye and Ryan Getty were also on the score sheet. The Dutch spectators were also highly impressed with the skills of Sean Murray and the composure of young defender Mark McNellis.
The under 14s started their playing tour with a fantastic and hard earned 4-2 victory against HGC in Den Haag. Captain Mark Acheson led the way with two well taken goals, whilst midfield powerhouse Jack Wilson added a third. It was then left to Jonny Dalton to secure the victory with a late fourth goal. Onto HC Rotterdam and the under 14s played against an excellent side. Despite Daniel Nelson giving them a well deserved lead, they were then swept away by a superb display of fast, attacking hockey, very much the Dutch way and, despite creating more chances themselves they were defeated 4-1. Onto their last game and the lessons learnt from the Rotterdam defeat seemed to have been well digested as HDM were swept aside by a ruthless Wallace side who won the game 6-0.
While in Holland the players had the chance to mix with some of the world's best players. Having already been coached by Ashley Jackson and Barry Middleton, they also got to watch these star players in a Dutch Premier League game versus Pinoke. Also in that game they got the opportunity to see recent Australian World Cup winner Des Abbott and the world's best goal keeper in Gus Vogels. At Rotterdam they also were treated to a Question and Answer session with Australian World Cup winner Mark Knowles who talked to the players about his experiences on the pitch and was happy to chat with the boys, sign autographs and get pictures taken.
Away from the pitch the boys spent an enjoyable afternoon at the beach and also visited JAWA Sports, a hockey megastore in Rotterdam. They also received superb hospitality at all the clubs and enjoyed a fantastic final tour meal at one of. Den Haag's most exclusive pizza restaurants. Overall the trip was a massive success both on and off the pitch. The Wallace and HGC link is now stronger and can only benefit hockey players in the school for many years to come.