Sports Tour to Malta 2014

Day 1

A long day travelling but thankfully fairly uneventful, apart from several thorough body searches at Gatwick for those with guilty faces – Mrs Newland!  We arrived at the hotel early evening and, after a frenetic room allocation song and dance, we headed off to the local restaurant; a sports bar with blaring premier league football on four giant screens – the boys were in heaven!

After a day spent cooped up we decided a walk along the coast was in order.  Very soon we stumbled across a playground where Mrs Newland and I enjoyed ourselves immensely on the slides.  Not satisfied with the plethora of play equipment the children invented an alternative to the Grand National involving races over (and more often through) a row of ornamental hedges.  Much hilarity ensued with endless tumbles and dramatic dives.  At last the children were tired enough to take back to the hotel.

With the clocks changing and us being an hour ahead, there was much confusion about the actual time and what it would be in the morning (somehow we had lost two hours of our lives) but they all went happily to bed.

Day 2

We knew they weren’t listening - four boys greeted us with a cheery knock and good morning an hour too early!!

After breakfast we set off on a very educational and fascinating tour of the capital city of Valetta with the beautiful and eloquent Maltese Donna. The children behaved impeccably and even recognised some of the artillery at the war museum from history lessons.  Lunch was taken in the Presidential Gardens and then on to Mdina, the beautiful ancient city.

On returning to the hotel we chose to make another trip to the park (no hedge jumping in daylight!) followed by another tasty meal at the same restaurant – Liverpool won much to the delight of Charley FS.  Movie night was a great success and a calm ending to a mentally and physically tiring day.

Day 3

With a morning to entertain ourselves, we set off to the brand new Point Shopping Centre.   Obviously the children made a beeline for the sweet shops while myself and Mrs Newland enjoyed some retail therapy.  After an hour we decided to head back to the hotel to prepare for the first matches.  Having secured a larger bus, so that the boys could watch the girls play and vice versa, we set off for the first netball match (with boys in full cheerleading voice) and were bemused to find ourselves in the middle of a town and climbing up stairs into a girls' convent school.  The court was a very impressive indoor sports hall complete with stadium seating.  We were very impressed/worried about the vigorous warm up the opposition went through and slightly daunted by their size.  It took a while for the girls to settle, allowing the hosts to take the lead, but with much encouragement from the crowd, especially Patrick F and Thomas N, the girls took control of the game.  In defence Annabel H and Evie D were a formidable force, which was quite an accomplishment seeing that they both only reached their opponents knees!  Scarlett was on fire, darting around the shooting circle and receiving some fantastic passes from Eldad, who seemed to be leaping like a gazelle, intercepting pass after pass.  By the end of the third quarter, we were leading 13 goals to 9.

In the last few minutes Evie D was pushed to the floor and had to go off but with only 7 girls we were now one short.  Luckily when leaving the bus I jokingly said to Will d’A that he was the netball sub.  So, on he went as goalkeeper and had to mark a buxom young lady to whom he barely reached her shoulder height.  He was fantastic and to much heckling from his friends completed the match with great enthusiasm.  The final score was 16-12 to Holmwood.

The boys were fantastic!  A great support to the girls and this definitely contributed to the girls’ triumph.  However, they now knew the pressure was on them  ... the girls had set the bar!!

We returned to the hotel for a quick change and then headed through the Maltese rush hour to the National Hockey Stadium to face our first opponents.  From the outset, we could see they had some very talented players and we were soon down 1-0 despite Olly N trying his hardest in his debut appearance as goalie.  After going 2-0 down, Nick RP was able to slot one past their keeper and heads and hearts were lifted.  The second half saw a completely different game with superb passing and many shots on target but we were unable to score again and conceded one more to lose 3-1.

Dinner that night was at a different restaurant with delicious pizzas being popular with everyone.  The waiter made a point of saying that these were the most polite children he had ever come across and Mrs Newland and I beamed with pride.

Day 4     April Fool’s Day!

Obviously we couldn’t let this special day pass without notice so, after receiving a 'fake phone call' from the tour rep at breakfast, we explained that we had been invited by the convent school to attend morning mass to celebrate their patron saint of water and that George L, as Head of Water, was to carry the bread and wine up the aisle.  We also said they had to change into full length trousers to show respect. They were a little dubious at first but by the time we had dragged them down the street, to wait for the pretend bus, they were completely sucked in.  Much hilarity ensued when we admitted our prank and we returned to the hotel to prepare for a day at the beach.

The Year 8 boys returned the favour by employing several of the five Rs and coerced the manager to make a stern phone call to our room reporting naughty behaviour in the corridors and complaints from other guests.  Off I went fuming that our reputation was ruined only to find eight beaming faces lined up at the top of the stairs – respect to them!

A lovely time was had by all paddling in rock pools and dipping in the freezing sea and again their exemplary behaviour was admired by a passerby and rewarded with local ice cream.

Wow - what a final hockey match!  Tom N chose to play in goal due to a heel injury and what a game he had!  Both teams were very equal but the opposition had some huge fourteen year olds with Mediterranean attitudes and egos to match.  Our boys had never seen so many tantrums and tears over a game of hockey.  However, showing true Holmwood spirit, they rose above it and played the best hockey I have ever seen from these boys.  It was 2-2 at full time, thanks to Patrick F and Geaorge L, so we then went to extra time. The opposition scored first and we thought it was all over but then George L equalised to make it 1-1 at half time.  We were so excited and suddenly it was down to the defence to keep us in the game.  Michael A made numerous tackles as did Finlee S, Xen M and Olly N.  I was so proud of these lower team boys stepping up to the game and playing their hearts out. James J had never run so hard and Will d’A and Charley FS dominated the midfield.  The final whistle went and it was now on to penalty strokes.  Five brave boys came forward and did their best and Thomas N saved one and the final score was 3-3!

Meanwhile in another village, the girls were playing against a local club.  Once again, it was hard not to be intimidated by the size of the opposition as well as their complicated warm up routines.  However, once again in true resilient Holmwood style, the girls just got on with the job in hand.  Their teamwork and support to one another was impressive and Mrs Newland beamed with pride as they played.  It was a very evenly matched game, which produced the best individual performance of the season.  The final score was 22-12 to Holmwood. 

Another very enjoyable evening meal out followed and finally to bed.  The journey home was again long and uneventful but our extremely tired squad continued to be on their best behaviour to the very end.  Yet another positive comment was received from the cabin crew about their beautiful manners – by now we were expecting comments wherever we went!

Pulling in to the school drive felt as though we had never left but what a fabulous five days.  This was my third tour abroad and I can definitely say it was the best so far.  Not only because Malta is such a beautiful country but also because I enjoyed discovering it with such wonderful company.  The teamwork, unselfishness and all round camaraderie between the ages and sexes was the high point of the tour.   As parents and teachers of these boys and girls, we should be incredibly proud of the delightful young people we can see emerging.

Mrs S Goldring
Director of Sport