Valencia Trip - 22nd - 25th April 2022
This year, following two years of lockdown, Galway Hockey Club went on it's first ever player exchange with Valencia Hockey Club in Spain. Thanks to the club links with Junior Coaches, David Granero and Albert Navez, the whole experience was a very calm & enjoyable event. Overall 25 players, from the U14 & U16 groups, travelled with coaches, David, Albert, Orna MacGiolla Ri, Ann Dempsey and parents Una McGrath, Petrina Costello and Brid Tierney.
The trip started with a hockey session with the U14 & U16 Spanish teams and coaches Paula Gimeno Bayarri, Estefania Alejos Julve and Mario Sanchez. Despite the heat, the girls all acquitted themselves well and enjoyed sharing the spoils in the games against their spanish peers. The afternoon was spent enjoying the highlights of beautiful Valencia including The Turia Gardens at the heart of the city, the Science Museum, the medieval churches, buildings and narrow streets of the city and of course plenty of great shopping. It was a busy day and when we all finally sat down late at night for our beautiful tapas, on average, over 25,000 steps had accummulated on our fitbits!
Sunday started with a relaxing morning at the beach. With temperatures up in the mid 20s by midday, we were delighted to be able to cool down in the sea. Lunch time was a feast with the Spanish parents treating us all to their local speciality dish, Paeilla. Very tasty indeed! The afternoon was a feast of fun on the pitch with plenty of water games and fights. The joy & laughter experienced by the girls was infectious to us all. This was followed by a quiet family dinner in the various homes.
The next morning, all teams and parents had breakfast at the pitch (the joys of guaranteed sunshine), before leaving for the Airport. Ann Dempsey on behalf of Galway Hockey Club thanked the Spanish parents for looking after our girls, the spanish coaches for their coaching and the Spanish players for making us all feel welcome. She said that when we came together on Saturday morning, we were four teams in club colours of red for Galway and White for Valencia, but by Sunday afternoon, they all wore their new black shirts - they had become one team. What a special memory!
Return Trip - Galway 23rd - 26th June 2022
Last weekend, Galway Hockey Club played host to Spanish hockey club, Valencia CH, in their first ever cultural and hockey exchange programme.
The idea was conceived by Galway Hockey coaches David Granero and Albert Navez. David has been U14 coach since he came to Galway last September, while Albert has been a player and underage coach for the past 4 years, while also studying at GMIT.
They both saw the depth of talent at their disposal in our U14 squad, which, under their dedicated coaching of the key skills of the game, blossomed to such success that they saw the opportunity to engage in the exchange programme to give the players the added experience of playing hockey with a new, wider skillset, an international flavour, and have have even more fun!
In April, the girls, coaches and some parents first visited Valencia. As well as playing hockey, they were treated to tours of the historical and tourist attractions that the beautiful city had to offer (not to mention a healthy exposure to Spain’s wonderful sunshine!), and stayed in their hosts homes.
On the return leg in Galway over the weekend, hockey matches were played on Friday and Saturday mornings, while the afternoons were reserved for fun, entertainment, and Galway hospitality. This included, on Friday, a tour around Galway’s Latin Quarter (yes, including the Spanish Arch - our visitors were very interested to hear of the strong Galway connection with Spain!) and a tour of Galway Museum. There they were welcomed by new Galway Mayor, Councillor Clodagh Higgins, who presented each Spanish girl with a Claddagh Ring, kindly arranged by Claddagh & Celtic Jewellery and sponsored by Blackrock Health (Galway Clinic). This gift, which has such a connection with Galway, was a real hit!
On Saturday afternoon, the weather-Gods didn’t permit a planned trip to Inis Mór, but Plan B – a most enjoyable Silent Disco (thanks to the Blue Note), followed by the fun challenge of Pure Skill in Knocknacarra – proved to be just as enjoyable, with the Spanish girls in particular enjoying the challenge of trying their hand at Hurling and Gaelic Football.
All in all, it was a fabulous weekend. Between the two clubs, 55 players took part, from the ages of 13 to 16 years, and with each player having the added cultural experience of being hosted by their opposite families in each city, a close bond of friendship has also been forged, and memories made to treasure for a lifetime.
The club is overjoyed with the success of this programme. A huge thank you is extended to the wonderful parents who supported everything and gave generously of their time and energy throughout the weekend. Thanks are also extended to the generous sponsors, without whom the event couldn’t have happened. It is hoped that this is the first of many more such programmes in the years ahead.
Finally, the club is delighted to announce that David Granero has also been offered the position of Senior Ladies Coach for the 2022/2023 season. So, Galway Hockey look forward to his development of their young Galway team in the National EY2 league.