Road to the World Cup
World Cup diary
The alarm went off at 3am and my body tried desperately to ignore it. Having spent the whole evening before packing all I had to do was get dressed and head out the door, breakfast not even a thought at that hour. The team all floated into the international airport looking dreary eyed yet excited for our next adventure.
After a quick visit to the Qantas lounge it was Emirates who provided us with food and entertainment for the next 20 hours. With a bit more sleep under our belts we made it to Germany. Bremen was our first location so it was onto a bus then we set off on the 2 hour journey from Hamburg. By this point our bodies couldn’t tell what time it was, what meal we should be eating or even where we were. I started writing this diary on the bus as an attempt to stay awake as it’s now 9.30pm and I’m exhausted. I’m hoping I’ll be able to sleep tonight. Looking forward to seeing what day 2 brings.
I made it to 7.30am. A pretty reasonable effort given the disrupted sleep the day before. My room mate KJ and I headed down to check out the hotels breakfast buffet and were reasonably impressed. As always in europe there were plenty of meats, cheeses and ‘lunch’ type foods but mixed in amongst some fruit, yoghurt, eggs and cereal. The one thing that did throw us though was the tiny sized bowls they had for cereal. Apparently the hotel don’t like wastage but for us it meant 4-5 trips to the buffet bar and feeling like massive over eaters. First up for the days as training. Our usual light session post travel and then a more intense session in the afternoon. During the break I couldn’t resist the urge to sleep so closed my eyes for what ended up being more than two hours. Oops!
We were hosted by the hockey club for dinner and then all settled in for some much needed rest.
Again the body clock made me wake at 7.30 but I was content knowing id been able to sleep through the night. Today was a very special day for two reasons. I woke to read the news that my best friend back home had brought a little baby girl into the world. One of the many moments when you wish you could be at home to share. Also my team mate Casey Eastham would be celebrating her 200th game for Australia. What a huge achievement. Ash Nelson and I set off after breakfast to find our usual local corny gift and something nice to give Case as a memento.
Game 1 against England was played at 3pm so not time for training. We had another nice lunch at the club then a few meetings plus a footwork session to sharpen up. The field is only 2 mins walk from our hotel which is very handy! We played reasonably well considering we had travelled so far in the preceding days and ended up winning 4-2.
We finished off our evening with dinner, a psych meeting then a nice cup of tea before bed.
Rest day. We had a very cruisey morning with nothing till lunch at 1am. Physio appointments are always happening throughout the day so I booked in for my weekly maintenance session. As is always the case in Germany, the autograph collectors wait patiently in our lobby with photos and name cards ready for when we go downstairs. And I’m not talking young fans. These are usually odd looking middle aged men.
The break also gave plenty of time to watch video footage from the game and also do some prep work for our next game against Japan. Lunch was at the hockey club then we all set off for a gym session at the centre 20 mins up the road. Gym on tour is similar to back home but about 85% of our normal weights. We take the approach that maintenance is not enough, we must always improve, but soreness is not ideal when you are playing internationals so we can’t go 100%.
The evening involved an official welcome function hosted by German hockey and the hosting club. All four teams were in attendance but it was Germany who won the prize for best dressed in their matching Gazman outfits with pink Adidas shoes. There were the usual speeches and some lovely food plus plenty of laughs down our end of the table. Hurty, KJ, Kell, Smitty, Jane, Casey and I had some great chats. Always a good distraction while waiting for food.
A busy schedule today. We played at 2 but managed to fit plenty in before then. Usually we don’t train before early games but given we had the day before off it was necessary to have a quick run around in the morning. We played our best game of the tournament against Japan and managed to beat them 6-1. Ash & I played half a game each so great to be a part of the big win.
In the evening we strolled up to the super market to grab some snacks as the dinner at the club was not great. We all had to laugh as we arrived to find members of all four teams in the lollie aisle. Not us of course. We were there to buy fruit 😉
Finals day. We had a pretty relaxed morning with a sleep in then a few meetings pre game. England Japan played game 1 with England winning and taking out third at the tournament. Bremen put on some lovely weather for our final so that combined with the smell of delicious Germans sausages being barbecued meant a large crowd gathered. We had a tough battle against Germany. They are a physical team and certainly pulled out some turns and tricks for their fans. The game was tight right till the end where we clawed a goal back to make it 3-3. Georgie Parker scored a cracking back stick goal that sailed into the top corner with less than a minute to go. This meant we had won the tournament!! We were wrapt! A great start to our World Cup campaign!! We all celebrated with a traditional Belgium sausage and a glass of sparkling water. So wild!!
Tomorrow we head off to Antwerp for one training, a game against Belgium then 2 full days rest. The drive takes about 5 hours so I’m very much looking forward to seeing some European countryside.