Thursday, March 26, 2009
We left in the rain and managed to be in the rain for most of the day and night -- and it was cold to boot !! Our day in Germany went very well - we first stopped in Dussledorf for a 2 hours walk about and shopping spree in the city centrum. I t rained mosst of that time - light to heavy rain and cold ! We found big soccer store and the kids enjoyed browsing and buying.
The second stop was Gelsenkirchen, the home of FC Schalke 04 - a powerful club in the Bundesliga. Upon arriving, we quickly hit the fan shop and made some purchases of the SDchalke merchandise and then we toured the massive and new Veltins Arena - capacity 80,00o with a playing surface of natural grass that rollos in and out of the stadium as needed. Yesterday, it was out and a car show was setting up. The tour was very complete from locker room to club house to the museum to the Hall of Fame. The entire complex at Schalke was mind-boggling. Fields and equipment everywhere -- turf fields, grass fields, a sand field and a tennis court field for soccer tennis. The first team was training while we were there and some of us watched it, also in the rain and a heavy rain it was.
We played the youth of Schalke '95 -- WOW !!! speed everywhere and the fastest tranisiton team I have seen at tHt age ever. The game opened at a fast pace and they seemed to be everywhere, all at the same time. they scored 2 early goals and then we made some adjustments and the game settled a bit. It was a great display of efficiency, pace, skill and tactical awareness -- their training was very evident in their play. It was a great experience for our players. Before the game each of the Schalke players gave our players a gift bag, which was very nice and nice of them.
We played the game mostly in the rain on the artificial surface with some parts of the game in heavy rain. The second half was better and the game leveled but we were unable to score and they went on to be run away winners at 5-0. Not a bad result considering all that there is to consider.
Then it was load the bus and head back toi Holland with a stop at McDonalds, which everyone enjoyed.
Today we have training in the morning, visit and shopping in Nijmegen, games tonight and then for most of the players it will be off to the guest families until we leave on Sunday.
It's been a great rip, very busy, but very well planned. Harry and Theo have been with most all of the time and they are great in so many ways. Jan is busy as always. He has Japanese group starting their tour today, so we will not see him for a couple of days. We are now down to the last few days of the trip and they will be good as the guest families will provide many neat things to do in their country.