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Malta Sports Tour

Posted on: July 7th 2015

Welcome to the Sale Grammar School Malta Sports Tour Blog!

On this page you will be able to keep up to date with what’s happening on the trip, through the eyes of both the staff and the pupils.

The blog will also allow parents to check the trip's progress and we will endeavour to update it at least daily if not more often, time permitting.

Day 1 - Saturday 2nd June

The excitement couldn't be contained as we duly arrived nice and early for the flight only to discover that it was delayed for an hour! However, the news didn't dampen our spirits as Manchester Airport's finest duty free shops saw their perfume profits sore! After a pleasant and uneventful flight we arrived safely in Malta and managed to make it to bed for 1am. The contrast in the weather was immediate as we left behind a chilly drizzle for the balmy delights of 20 degree heat!

Day 2 - Sunday 3rd June

Whilst Britain was busy celebrating the royal festivities the squad was up bright and early for a hearty buffet breakfast before the boat trip to Comino. The temperatures were soaring into the high 20s as we made our way to the small and picturesque blue lagoon bay. The day was spent catching the rays and enjoying the stunning crystal clear waters of the lagoon. After tea we enjoyed the hotel cabaret dancing the night away to such classics as the Twist and Grease!

Day 3 - Monday 4th June

Today sees the first day of intense training and competition. With the usual scorching temperatures, the squad split into their respective team sports and readied themselves for battle! This morning the teams prepared for this afternoon's first fixtures. We'll keep you posted for the results (wins all round).

What an afternoon!! The heat continued to make the conditions challenging for the rugby and football squads as they faced the opposition. The testing conditions did not dampen our spirits as both teams put in great performances. The football team gave an extremely good account of themselves as they put the lessons from training into practice. Winning with an impressive score of 3 - 0 the lads were tenacious in the tackle and their passing moves foxed a well drilled Sirens side. An incredibly composed and assured performance from Jac Scott symbolised our style of play and he was deservedly awarded Man of the Match. The team were supported in the stands by the netball squad whose focal support was much appreciated.

It was a similar story for the rugby lads as they faced an enormous combined squad from local sides Kavallieri / Gladiators. Playing 15 minutes quarters, our boys manfully lead the way until the last quarter when the opposition went a try ahead. In the end the scoreline was 28 - 17 to them, however, it was a hard fought game and during the excellent post match social the Maltese coaches were surprised that this was our lads first game together! There were many outstanding performances, however, Ben Page-Laycock's terrier-like dominance in the back row earned him the Man of the Match.

The Hockey squad travelled to their fixture, however, a confusion from the Maltese Hockey team meant that they will play their first fixture on Day 4. It did give them the chance for an extra training session, so we are expecting a great performance tomorrow!

After at late tea we all went for a walk to a small local super market and gift shop. Both owners were delighted to see such a large group appear just before closing and the SGS staff appear to have made life long friends as they plied us with some free goods!!

Day 4 - Tuesday 5th June

Another sunny day in Malta!! Another training session where the squads worked on their skills and plays - ready for today's netball match against the mighty Trojan, football against the formidable Football Frenzy and hockey takes on a fiery Quomi Mixed Select.

The netball squad played their first fixture against an expectant Maltese side hoping to make its mark on the English game. It soon became clear that Sale's planning and preparation led by the unstoppable force that is Mrs Alexander, paid off as they dominated the first quarter by edging in front 13-0. It was a start that signalled doom for the opposition as Lakeiya Hall and Helen Grundy produced a performance of staggering solidity in defence to keep the score line a respectable 51-0. Captain fantastic, Anna Randall, led the charge and marshalled her troops with all the aplomb of a battle hardened veteran!

The football boys played their second fixture against an expectant Football Frenzy who had prepared themselves for our squad by fielding their most experienced players. We were up for the challenge and responded to their goal in the first half by equalising through Dominic Newton's deflected cross early in the second half. If the first half was characterised by Frenzy's attempt to dominate the game through a physical style of play, the second half was a master class in how our boys play a fluid passing game. At times Sale's play was mesmeric as time and again we put Rueban Dass through on a one on one with the keeper. As time went on Sale continued to compete for the ball and the end result of a 4-1 loss didn't reflect the skill levels of our side. The squad can be proud of their tour and they may even have converted Mr Price-Uden into a football fan!!

The hockey squad were excited by the prospect of their first fixture on tour after a reshuffle in the schedule from last night. They soon discovered that they would encounter a baptism of fire as the opposition were an international squad just returned from a European Championship. The extra training sessions clearly paid off as the Sale girls put into practice the lessons from the morning session. Communication and positional awareness was vastly improved and after the shock of a 6-0 first quarter, the squad grew in confidence and played some good cohesive hockey. By the last quarter Sale only conceded 2 goals to keep the score to a respectable 12-0 loss. Special mention must go to Sam Roper who stepped in as goalie and played a significant role in keeping the score line much lower than feared. Laura Corrigan's defence and Mel Sampson's attack were instrumental in shaping Sale's style of play.

After tea tonight the touring party headed off for more retail therapy at the Baystreet Shopping Complex. No doubt plenty of souvenirs were bought for the family! And then it was on to the Eden Superbowl for some American style entertainment! Another fun packed day on tour!

Day 5 - Wednesday 6th June

This morning the squad had a fantastic time at Malta's premier waterpark - Splash and Fun! Those daring enough faced the adrenalin inducing slides with names such as ‘The Black Hole', ‘Sidewinder' and ‘Plunge Pool' promising to keep the butterflies going. Of course there was plenty of time to take in some sunbathing and lounging around on the ‘Lazy River'.

The rugby squad played their second fixture against an enormous Birkirkara side who were keen to make their mark on the touring side. We reminded the boys that we had worked on our tackle and guard defence and that the bigger they are the harder they fall!! And what a game it proved to be. The tackles from the Sale boys was technically flawless and time and again we brought the big opposition crashing to the hard Maltese playing service. The likes of Adam O'Biren, Ben Page-Laycock and Jonny Hibbert put in some awe inspiring tackles and the team was inspired to use the ball when the got hold of it. Mr Price-Uden's biggest fear was the possible dominance of such a big opposition forward pack, however, our scrum was magnificent and Rob Jones even won 4 strikes against the head! With some quality possession the backs began to play a flowing style of rugby and the ball was whipped through the hands for superb tries from Issac Sutton, Nathan May, Joel Mallon and Sam Stevens. We closed the game off and won 22 - 5. A great performance from a squad with incredible potential.

The hockey squad played 2 fixtures tonight against Floriana and White Hart. Both opposition teams were accomplished and proved to be difficult to play against. The first game against Floriana was always going to tough as we played against a mainly male team (1 female) -however, Laura Corrigan was dynamic in every way: dominating the ‘D', marshalling the defence and putting Erin Leach into positions where she could dazzle everyone with her customary trickery on the ball. Robin Legg (AKA the ‘octopus') put in a hectic shift in goal and we managed to finish the game with an incredible result of a 3 - 0 loss. Not bad considering Floriana are current European champions! Inspired, the follow up efforts against White Hart were equally impressive. Whilst the girls were very tired, we made sure that we learnt from the lessons of the first game. We battled courageously to keep the score to 1 - 0 down in the first half and came out all guns blazing with Erin Leach nearly equalising early in the second. Caomhe Leonard put in a Player of the Match performance, with some stunning attacking play. We kept the score one down until the dying minutes of the match before finally losing 2 - 0. The girl's should be very proud of their efforts and get ready for next season!!!

The netball squad faced Malta's best side in an imposing Alpine team. After a slow start in the warm up the girls picked themselves up to dominate the relatively small court. Alpine were well organised, however, the pace and skill of the Sale girls was too much. As possession came easily, we put together some staggering attacks - the ball seemed to be telegraphed amongst the players! Whilst our attack was crushing the will of the opposition, the defensive performances of Helen Grundy, Lakeiya Hall and Feya Mattis laid a solid foundation for Sale to streak ahead to a 22 - 6 victory. Aleisha Smith was inspirational and the netball squad were proudly undefeated!

Then back to the hotel for DISCO TIME!! Whoop whoop!!

Day 6 - Thursday 7th June

Good morning Sale!! Today is our last day - off for a visit to Malta's capital city of Valetta for a tour of the historic sites and more retail therapy. Then we will be setting off on our return to summery Manchester!! See you all soon.

Some final images from Valetta - a big thank you to Mr Churchill who planned the tour - the students had a fantastic time and it is all down to the way in which Mr Churchill approached the tour - he made sure that everything ran like clockwork and that all the students got fully involved. A legend!!!

The squad at Barrakka Gardens.

The streets of Valetta.

Many thanks to the staff. From left to right: Mr Timms; Miss Pridding; Mrs Alexander; Mr Price-Uden; Mr Churchill; Miss Langford; Miss Porter; Mr Dickens.

Laura Corrigan from Year 10 has been keeping a student blog of events - enjoy her excellent account!

Saturday 2nd June and Manchester airport’s Terminal two saw the 64 Sale Grammar School students line the paths fuelled with excitement and energy for the forthcoming tour of the year. With all the students stood at check-in, the anticipation of the next hour was written upon many people’s faces, this was a crucial moment, would they really exceed the 15kg of baggage allowance? After the final student had checked in and the head count had been taken, Manchester airport was more than happy to open its duty-free doors to us, making probably one of their best profits of the week. More shopping time was allocated to us as the flight was delayed by an hour, however after an eventful flight we landed at Malta International Airport and enjoyed the picturesque views of the small city of Qawra, whilst being escorted to the Soreda Hotel. Upon our arrival we had a quick full team meeting then were willingly summoned to our rooms to hibernate before the 7:00am wake-up call from duty staff. Sunday saw the sporting fanatics off to the dock to board for Comino. Whilst spending all day on the boat, catching the rays, bathing in blue lagoon bay and cleansing the body with natural sea scents, smiles were plastered on all the faces of students along with ridiculous amounts of sun cream. The rest of the evening was relaxing for all the party as we were granted 2 hours of free time, where the majority updated themselves with the rest of the social world left in rainy Manchester.

Monday morning, and the intense training and competition began. All teams were taken off to have a two hour session before the evening matches and the netball team were training with Maltese coach Elaine Lagana. The sessions were pumped with warm-ups, drills, mini matches and water break briberies. As every victorious sports team knows, there is only one person to motivate and drive the teams to victory. There was one student from each team selected to not only represents our school but our country.  These lucky four were: For hockey; Emily Moffat, For football; Ben Gerrad, For Rugby; Henry Brownlow and For Netball; Anna Randall. All four students received captains' badges and were cheered by their fellow team mates. With the evening matches looming in the distance, students prepared themselves for their first battle against the Maltese locals. Football returned triumphant with a clear 3-0 win, with help from player of the match Jack Scott. Rugby returned with their heads held high after losing by only one tri. Player of the match went to Ben Page-Laycock who was very impressed with the teams overall performance. The hockey match that was meant to take place unfortunately did not as the team didn’t show up. This match was later rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon. Later that night all 64 students and staff walked down to the local shops to make some good British purchases; however the SGS staff came off considerably better by receiving some lifelong friends along with free sunglasses, scarfs and wine.

Tuesday morning and again the sporting champions were off again to train in the blistering Mediterranean temperatures, only this time all teams put in so much more effort, dedication and determination that they had in order to win the matches that they faced later that night. The results paid off for the netball team as the demolished the opposition in a 51-0 win, the best result of the entire tour. Player of the match went to Lakeiya Hall for her brilliant motivation and accuracy. Football and the team did exceptionally well playing against a much older and experienced opposition who were the best selected from around Malta. Unfortunately they returned with 4-1 loss. After the match Mr. Timms told us “The experience from the match will be invaluable to the boys, as they continue to progress into the football wilderness”, player of the match went to Rueben Dass for his sheer power and influence over the team. After the no-show on Monday the hockey team went out all guns blazing to try and win their first match, however little did they know until after the match, that they were playing the new European champions and therefore returned home with a loss of 13-0, nevertheless they were so eternally grateful to Sam Roper who stepped in as goalie at the last minute, he later received Player of the match for his amazing performance. All teams put in heart and soul into the games, and were grateful for the opportunity and experience on which they could all later act upon. The evening saw the group go to the small resort of St.Julians for a bit of light retail therapy, many souvenirs and gifts were purchased for all the loved ones back at home. Following this was the bowling rivalry at Eden Superbowl, where we saw many of the ‘skilled’ and ‘legendary’ staff take each other on in a not so friendly strike attack.

Wednesday and the teams were up again bright and early for half a day at Splash & Fun water park. The students had a wail of a time on rides such as: Super bowl, black hole, plunge pool, lazy river and the sidewinder which consisted of a vertical descent sharply followed by a vertical ascent on the other side. All had a wonderful time and those who weren’t letting loose on the rides were topping up their tans, before the return to rainy, windy, cold, miserable Manchester. After departing shortly after 2oclock it was back to the hotel for the final journeys to the final matches of the tour. All spirits were high and the entire squad gave absolutely everything in the battle to come out on top. Football luckily had no fixture so spent the rest of the day supporting their fellow team mates in the rugby match. Coach Price-Uden stated “I was very proud of the way in which the boys put into practice the lessons learned during the training. They tackled lower, communicated effectively and improved there over all positional play” they returned to the group with a fantastic win of 22:5 the icing on the cake to the end of the tour. Hockey and after the difficult game the previous day the hockey team were determined to up their game and not only battle with the teams which they faced, but also the heat and pressure to score. With key defence player Emilie Redman down the team struggled to hold together and therefore had to adapt and alter the positions in which the team are used to. Whilst been 1-0 down in the first match of the night Isobel Archer was struck down by a lifted ball to the arm, but yet again the team gritted their teeth and continued the fight of their lives. Unfortunately the team were unable to score but managed to keep the opposition fighting until the very end, finishing with a score of 3-0. Immediately after the 2nd hockey match the team had their 3rd and final fixture of the tour with not one goal so far scored, this was the final leg of race to victory. Playing much older and experienced players than themselves the team really had to drive, and accelerate to hold off the fast flying balls of steel. This was by far the best game the girls had played and Miss. Langford said that “The girls played an awesome style of hockey and the future looks bright for the hockey revolution”. The final score came out as 2-0 to the Maltese team but the girls were happily defeated by such a well-mannered and polite bunch of male hockey fanatics. After last games success the netball girls also played exceptionally, all the training they had done in the previous practices paid off and so the girls returned with a final victorious win of 22:6, Mrs Alexander said “It was a solid performance by the girls, with some outstanding individual performances  but the overall team performance shows a cohesive team proud to play alongside each other.” Well done to the netball team who shone through in every match played, they came with the smallest team but leave with the greatest of pride.

As the Last night of the tour came to a close, it was time to dump the shin pads and mouth guards and throw on the glad rags and dancing shoes, Sale Grammar Staff had organised a private disco for all the students, with top tunes being blasted out all night and a few dance-offs too it was the perfect end to the perfect tour.

As the sun rose in Malta for the last time on tour, everybody was on a high and so pleased of all the work we had done, not only in our individual teams but as a school as well. After breakfast the students spent the day in the ancient town of Valetta, Malta’s capital, the group saw the historic sights of the upper Barrakka Gardens, Great siege bell and the fortifications. This was to be the last excursion of the tour, before the dreaded airport check-ins. The final meeting of the tour and this was to highlight the amazing performances from all our students. Two players of the match for Rugby went to Adam O’Brien for being a titanic in defence and Nathan May who had shown all the speed of a young white Usain Bolt. Hockey and for the first match  the award went to Laura Corrigan, because of her strength and power in defence in every game they played, for the second match the award went to Caoimhe Leonard because she never gave up and fought the opposition until the very end, giving a very strong and faithful performance. Netball’s superstar went to Feya Mattis, for being a solid and forceful member of Wing Defence. Every single person on the tour pulled their weight and the overall results had shown as Team SGS came home to Manchester overall beating the Maltese Maniacs 116 goals to a pathetic 61. To travel with any team is an amazing opportunity, but to travel alongside such well-trained, dedicated and faithful friends who you can share memories and have fun with is the most important part. Sale Grammar school seized every opportunity that was thrown at them, and therefore every single person on the tour has built character and will remember this opportunity that they took for the rest of their lives.

Laura Corrigan

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