It all seems a blur now but just over a week ago, the Chippy Trixsters U16 team jumped on a plane and was bound for the U16 European cup in Kaarst, Germany. It had seemed so long ago winning Nationals to qualify but the team, coaches and parents were excited to be there.
A nice relaxing opening ceremony on the Friday evening saw us catch sight of the other teams as we were called out 1 by 1 following the Union Jack to officially take our place at the tournament. An early night followed, ready to play in the morning.
The Saturday morning saw us struggle against Denmark's Team West and Israel's Zoran Falcons with scores of 8-1 and 5-1 and really not playing like us. With the morning behind us and having some time together playing football and having some fun we then played the host team, Kaarst Crash Eagles (who went on to win the whole thing). They were on great form and were a joy to watch. We had a pre match chat and we felt good. The score of 6-2 flattered the home side as we played arguably our best hockey in a long time. Despite the score, pride and belief were reinstalled and the boys felt good. One game left in the group and a big game in terms of placings in the group against Swiss runners up SHC Rolling Aventicum. A win would see us finish 4th and defeat would leave us in last place.
With confidence and belief running high among the players and coaches, the team built on their form and won the game 6-3. We finished 4th in the group and set ourselves up a qualifying game Sunday morning with fellow Brits and close friends London Knightz. A game both teams would have rather avoided. It was a very tense game with Knightz looking the better team. We went 1-0 down early and just couldn't seem to find a way past the Knightz keeper. A half time team talk seemed to help and we finally pulled level. A few minutes later we popped in a winner and took the game 2-1. Relief was apparent but despite booking a place in the quarter final, it seemed so harsh on our friends from London and celebrations were muted.
A quarter final draw saw us face the winners of the other group, Germany's Crefelder SC. A very tough game again and despite a 9-1 defeat, a much better performance from the team. So, losing out on a place in the semi finals, we were left with a place between 5th and 8th. Another game against Israel's Zoran was next and a better performance was needed. The game was close throughout and for a period and a half we cancelled each other out. Late in the game, with the score at 3-3, squad size and experience were key and we went on to lose 6-3 but I felt we were the better team and were extremely unlucky. A completely different game to the day before so lots of positives to be taken.
So we were then left with one final game for 7th and 8th place. We were playing Austria's HC Mad Dogs Wiener Neustadt. Half time saw us 1-0 down but playing well. A brief pep talk and a slight change of tactics saw us go on to take the game, winning 4-2 and securing 7th place. Great to end the tournament with a win and 7th place being very respectable having played quality opposition throughout.
The weekend ended with a team meal, several beers and a lot of laughter. A rollercoaster of a weekend but we wouldn't change it for the world. Go Chippy!!!!!!