Malaysian Tour Diary
A collection of 20 excited girls left Dauntsey's at 14.30hrs on board a coach bound for Heathrow, together with Mr Devney, Miss McNichol and the newly named Milo. Slowly we made it through check in with the help of Ben Williams from Edwin Doran. The first risk was taken, and the girls were set loose in the airport with a curfew time of when to arrive at the gate. Thankfully they all made it (just about) on time and we boarded our luxurious Boeing 787 Dreamliner- disappointingly for some we were directed to the right and told to keep walking (none of those beds previously talked about!). The flight was 12hrs; most of the girls managed to grab some sleep and arrived in Kuala Lumpur, still with endless questions and enthusiasm for the trip. Having met Zubir (our host for the trip) we headed off on our 1hr transfer to the Renaissance Hotel. Having had several run ins with the fines book, Riya gained some colourful headgear for the evening (see @DauntseysHockey on Twitter). A quick turn around and we were off out to sample some of the local food in a very local food court!! Lots of curry was consumed and we headed for our much needed beds!!
A lie in was purely wishful thinking, however, all made it down for the incredible breakfast. This included a selection of hot and cold food; a massive range of cakes (including luminous green ones), fruit, noodles, curry (of course) and cereals. A short bus trip followed for a 2hr training session at Jalan Pantai Hockey Stadium. The girls quickly discovered how hard the trip was going to be with the humidity at 90%. All brushed the cobwebs away quickly and adapted to playing with their new team mates. Then we boarded the coach and headed off on a whistle stop tour of the city. We visited the Astana Negara Palace where LOTS of photos were taken. We then headed on to the Tugu Peringatan Negara Malaysia, where the girls impersonated the impressive bronze statue. Our final destination was the Independence Square in Old Town KL where some of the buildings were built in 1897. A quick lunch stop in a shopping mall (where the girls obviously went shopping) before walking back to the hotel to prepare for the match. We played against the KL sports school- an academy who play all year round. They displayed some excellent technical skills and 'by golly' could they strike a ball! It appeared that the journey had taken its toll and the girls started the first quarter disjointed and weary of the opposition. After some fine saves by Riya, two errors were punished and on the balance of play; deserved. Rosie and a few others started to take the game by the scruff of the neck and some impressive play was rewarded with a tap in for Louisa- right place, right time. From then on the teams were pretty evenly matched with both having their chances and not capitalising on them. Dauntsey's best chance came from some great interplay between Ellie and Emily but the second goal continued to elude us. Mr Devney debriefed with a request for increased professionalism throughout the day and more confidence in their own ability. Bring on tomorrow.......fuelled by a great Irish pub meal!!!!
The day started badly for five girls, who having been left with the responsibility of setting an alarm, failed, narrowly avoided missing breakfast. The journey to the FRIM (Forest Research Institude of Malaysia) was a quiet one, with many of the girls feeling the effects of playing in the heat, on very little sleep. We had a fantastic tour guide, Jalalli, who told us a number of interesting facts about the forest and all within it. The girls particularly enjoyed meeting Mr Leech and the garlic balls provided a source of great entertainment. We then transferred to the Batu Caves in Gombak, Selangor where we were treated with a magnificent view of the Murugan Statue, a huge golden figure situated at the bottom of 272 steps. It wasn't all plain sailing as Gemma did not take her responsibility seriously and Milo was lost to the magical powers of the caves. The girls enjoyed feeding the overweight real monkeys before making the descent back to the air-conditioned coach. A quick lunch in the Twin Towers, before a return to the Jalan Pantai Hockey Stadium. Sadly, the Convent Bukit Nenas school we were scheduled to play pulled out at the last minute. This left us with an opportunity to play the same school as yesterday (KLSS) and put our demons to rest. The girls started particularly well today, improving on their performance 24hrs earlier. This was rewarded with two excellent team goals, finished by Emily and Rosie respectively. However, we did get caught on the break and took a slender lead of 2-1 into half time. The opposition came out almost like a new team (!) and this completely threw the girls, resulting in three quick fire goals. After a dusting down and some inspirational words from Charlotte (today's Captain) and Mr Devney, the girls emptied their tanks and threw themselves into the final quarter. Lou hit the post, Immy scored only to be denied by an early whistle and there were multiple short corners and shots on target. Unfortunately the score line remained unchanged; a disappointing way to finish our matches in KL but the girls have all made progress in 48hrs and should be proud of their individual and collective efforts. Onwards to a fun-filled day tomorrow and a fresh start to our hockey, in Ipoh on Monday.
The girls had a small lie in before heading off on a wet and wild day at the Sunway Lagoon. Gemma, Polly and Ellie were particularly excited about the day ahead. The groups split themselves depending on how brave they were feeling. Mr Devney joined Chloe D, Polly and Rosie down the racing mat slide with Mr D winning by a country mile. Miss McNichol joined Jemima, Alice and Georgia and after a slow start Miss McNichol won the prize for the most air gained going down the slide, almost joining Georgia. Some of the groups went to the theme park where they experienced some crazy rides, including a pirate boat that went over 360 degrees, after a delay due to someone projectile vomiting on it in the previous session.
The afternoon was spent shopping in the Petronas Towers, followed by a lovely Thai meal. (See @DauntseysHockey).
Day 5 saw the start of the inter-squad mini competitions, with Tucks' team taking charge of an onboard quiz on route to Ipoh. This provided a huge amount of entertainment and made the journey pass quickly. Hammy's team came out on top, with Mimi's team closely behind. Following our arriving at the very posh Weil Hotel in Ipoh, we had some lunch in the mall next door and quickly got ready for the third match of tour against Raja Perempuan School. We were lucky enough to be allowed to play in the Azlan Shah Stadium; the girls were massively excited about playing on a beautiful pitch with so many world class players having played on there before. The spirits were high as the girls knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and they certainly didn't disappoint, rising to the occasion and playing their socks off. After a slow start, Chloe managed to engage the troops and gradually they began to play how they had been training. Making improvement to their individual and collective games, they started to dominate and Alice broke the deadlock. Lots of chances were created and it was dissapointing to not take the game away from the opposition. It took until the 3rd quarter before Lou and Chloe added to the tally and the goal was set to score two more, in the final quarter. Immy scored a well rehearsed PC before Polly put it on a plate for Rosie, with a minute to go. The girls were ecstatic and deserved the comfortable victory. They celebrated with a buffet at the hotel before game day awards.
It was an early start as we were training at the national stadium at 8.00am. Patterns of play and a change of shape were the focus. Some of the girls are starting to get some minor injuries, so the intensity of the session was adapted, accordingly. A couple of hours of free time were used up by either sleeping or relaxing by the infinity pool on the top floor of the hotel. We reviewed yesterday's game with a video session before the short drive was made to the iconic stadium. Weather wise, this was the toughest test with temperatures above 35 degrees and humidity well over 90%. The start of the game was excellent and Alice slammed a straight strike from a short corner, to take a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately the opposition scored a carbon copy before taking the lead after some weak defence. The third quarter was extremely tough and the girls were quickly running out of steam. A serious injury to one of the opposition gave the girls a well needed rest, before they got back on the pitch, now thankfully in the shadows. The final quarter was superb and put in their best performance to date. They travel to Penang and will be encouraged to remember this final 15 minute display.
The evening was spent on the roof top restaurant and a visit to 'Llao Llao' (Frozen Yoghurt) before an early nights sleep. Our last destination is upon us and the time is going way too fast. The beach is calling and the girls cannot wait to get there try out their new formations and connections.
We started our last leg of the trip with a three hour journey to the State of Penang. Riya provided the bus entertainment this time, with a mix of riddles, jokes, guess the song and impressions. Our first stop was at the Bukit Merah Orang Utan Island Foundation, home to 20 orang utans, either rescued from the wild or bred into captivity. The aim of the foundation is to release the orang utan into Borneo, when they are old enough. The girls loved seeing the King 'PJ' and his potential successors 'Adam' and 'Carlos'. The orang utan were loose in the wild but we managed to observe the babies playing and the older members were curious and intelligent individuals.
Our next stop was Georgetown to visit the Mosques, Temples and other alternative places of worship. The girls were particularly interested in the Mosque and asked a number of intellectual questions about their culture and were able to pick up an English translation of the Qur'an. En route to the Park Royal Hotel the girls were allowed a quick shop in a huge mall where the retail outlet 'Lovisa' inundated with Dauntsey's students. Arriving at the hotel we were not to be disappointed as the resort is home to a beautiful pool, with added slides, pool volleyball, and gorgeous beach just metres away from the warm ocean. An incredible place to spend our final four days of a fantastic trip.
The evening was spent strolling through the night markets, eyeing up potential purchases for the next few days. We had a meal in a BBQ restaurant and the girls were pleased to get to bed after a long day travelling.
The day started with a much deserved lie in followed by a conditioning session in the gym and some pool/chill out time. After lunch we headed off to Penang University Sports pitches to play our penultimate match against Penang State. With Charlotte as captain for the day, the team warmed up in a professional manner and were keen to get going. Again, the girls started slowly, almost nervous and must have more confidence in their ability. Halfway through the first quarter, Dauntsey's went 1-0 down to a wonder goal, from arguably the most talented player the girls have come across. With multiple opportunities, it was frustrating not to get on the scoresheet but the girls performed some of their best hockey. Both Riya and Chloe had strong games and Ellie did a sterling job in the third quarter, preventing the top player from having as much of an impact. The girls have all come a long way but just need to dig deep and must be more clinical. It is the hardest part of the most sports but it has been highlighted in every video session and was worked on in our earlier training sessions. Fingers crossed they can put it all together and perform for the entire game. There have been some really pleasing spells and tomorrow, we hope to finish on a high. An early night for all in preparation for the big day.
The girls were given an extended lie in but expected to be at breakfast by 10.00am. The meet time for video was 1pm and most of the girls remained out of the sun and ensured they were well rested. After some self analysis, we met Zubir and the bus to start our 80 minute journey for our final fixture. The mood was positive with the pre game rituals of plaiting and singing a key feature. The girls started well, but the opposition were always a threat on the break and scored within 10 minutes. The team reacted well and the rotations allowed the intensity to be maintained. In the final seconds of play the girls were finally able to put away a chance and it was 1-1 after the 1st quarter. The expectations were revisited in the break and the girls played with more fluidity and confidence. The HT score was 1-1 but the girls were dominating in most areas of the pitch. The decision making in the 'D' was the only thing that needed improving and this was the focus for the second half. The deadlock was broken by another well worked corner and was superbly finished by Immy. The final quarter was upon us and the last 15 minutes of this wonderful experience, felt like a year! The opposition scored a wonder goal (reverse stick top right corner) to level the score but the girls would simply not give up without a fight. Elena and Emily were combining well and the ever consistent Chloe and Alice started to impose themselves on the game. A combination of some fantastic build up play and a dangerous challenge, resulted in a penalty stroke. Immy stepped up to take it and showed great composure to put it into the bottom right corner. The girls were ecstatic but needed to remain focused on managing the game to the end. Hearts were in mouths with 3 minutes to go as Georgia literally put her body on the line to save a certain goal. Buoyed from this close shave, Polly secured the victory with a second phase corner and all the hard work, effort, sweat, meetings all seemed worth it. I wish you could have all been there to see the joy on their faces. Not simply for winning but for winning together and I am certain that the moment the final whistle went, will be a memory that will stay with them forever. For Miss McNichol and I.......Mission accomplished.
The meet for breakfast was considerably earlier than the previous day and we wanted the girls to make the most of their final day, in this wonderful resort. The morning started slowly as the team were still recovering, following yesterday's efforts. A table tennis and water volleyball competition helped to re-energize them before a spot of lunch, overlooking the sea. The afternoon included a short walk along the beach and some sand castle building before pre-ordering their food, for the end of tour dinner. A night market trip was next on the agenda and the girls practised their newly learned 'haggling skills'. Elena came out with the best bargain! Lots of gifts were purchased and the girls could have stayed their all night but the tables were set at Uncle Zack's.
A lovely three course meal was enjoyed by all and it was time for the awards presentation. All of the girls were given a momento of the trip and were praised for their attitude throughout. Special mention must go to the new U6 as they set an excellent example both on and off the pitch.
Polly was voted as the most improved player, Lou was given a prize for the most committed player of tour; she literally put her body on the line and was so supportive when she was on the sideline. Immy picked up the top GS award and Player's Player. Charlotte was given the defender of tour. Chloe V was awarded the midfielder of tour, Emily was presented with the forward of tour award and Alice was given coaches player
A final drink was enjoyed and the squad shared some of their highlights from the last 10 days. It was a lovely way to end a fantastic trip and we all feel so fortunate to have been able to tour this intriguing country.