Monday, March 30, 2009

Back Home !!

Monday, March 30, 2009

United flight 8039 touched down in St. Louis just shortly after 5 pm and that brought the trip to its end point. I think it is safe to safe to say that most of arrived very tired, but very satisfied with the trip. A lifetime of memories accompanied each of us as we departed and met up with our families and stories were told right away and will continue to be told for awhile. The trip was not without a glitches, mostly on the part of the airlines and luggage. Many of us arrived hoem to find our luggage was still in Chicago. Hopefuly,that will be resolved very soon.

The final days of the trip saw most of the players spending time in the guest homes of the guest families, getting an up close and personal look at the Dutch living experience. All of the players seemed to be very satisfied with their guest family setup and seemed to adjust rather quickly to the new surroundings. For those that stayed behind,most of them spent the final day in Amsterdam, taking a train from Nijmegen. Saturday night on TV we watched the Dutch Naional team beat Scotland 3-0 in the Amsterdam Arena.

The trip was very well planned, fast- paced and interesting as we managed to see many different places and to do many different activities. Rain became a constant companion. Outside of the first 2 days, we had rain everyday, and usually for most of the day, and it was usually a cold rain with a strong wind.Never did it seem to bother the people on their bicylces as they went about their business as usual.

Special thanks to Jan for his planning and to Harry and Theo for their coaching and time spent with us, and especially for their historical stories aling the way. We also thank Astrid for her great meals at the Hostel Uitzicht and the staff at the de Oude Molen for their service and hospitality.

All in all, the trip delivered as promised. It was a life - enriching series of moments that will long be remembered by everyone on the trip. The soccer experiences were especially memorable - the stadium tours, the training sessions, the professional games, our own games, the way they play in Holland and the amount and design of the many soccer complexes that we saw where-ever we went. It was a great experience and one that hopefully will improve us in mnayt ways -- not just as soccer players and coaches, but as people with a global experience.

My thanks to everyone on the trip for their cooperation throughout the time in Holland. I hope that everyone, in their own way, realized all that had hoped the trip would be. We will release the dates for the Spring Trip 2010 shortly.
Applications for CBC Dutchtouch International Camp are now available on the website - don't wait too late as the interest in the camp is high and enrollment is limited -- don't be left out !!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another cold, rainy day in Holland

Friday March 27, 2009

When in Holland, expect rain -- and cold as well !!
Thursday we had a morning training session, mostly in the rain - as usual.
After a big warm meal (mashed potatoes, big meat balls, green beans, salad and dessert), it was off to Nijmegen for a shopping spree in the centrum. From there we loaded vans and went separate ways to Huissen for the younger group and to Cuyk for a the older ones. Oh yes, it rained during the shopping spree and why would it not.

The games were played with rain, sometimes heavy, but the turf fields allow for play to go on. It is very impressive to see how nothing affects thes Dutch people -- as they ride their bikes trought he streest in the rain holding an umbrella in one hand , cell phone or cigarette in the other, and managing to keep the bike moving.

The older group, with the addition, of 3 dutchies , won 4-2 in a very well-played game. That group seemed to hit it's stride and the previous games proved to be a big help. The younger group played very well, with more intensity than before, but did not get the win. They also played in the rain on turf.

Turf is huge over here and nothing stops because of it. We are lucky because the grass field swere being hit hard by the rain of the past few days.

Today, Friday, is a free day - with the players in guest families and the rest, parents mostly, going to a U20 Dutch National Team game this afternoon. Many of the players will joins with their uest families.

so far, dry -- hope it stays that way.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Rainy day in Germany

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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

3 day update

TUESDAY, March 24, 2009

After 2 days of no service on the computer and difficulty getting a signal for the cell phone, I will now provide an update, as best as I can remember.

Sunday: after breakfast, we had a meeting /reunion with the dutchies from last summer and the guest families for this trip. It was a great turnout and everyone seemed excited to see each other again.

Following that we had a training session led by Harry, Theo and Henk ( 3 dutch coaches). It went very well. It was also on Sunday that the weather started to change -- cold and windy, but dry. After training, there were 2 options: visit the War Museum 40-44 or go to a local senior level amateur game.

Monday: Thhe weather turned for the worse -- cold, windy, now wet. We trained and just did finish the session before we had showers. After a big lunch (dinner). we went to the Opan Air Museum in Arnhem -- and it rained (hard) and it was cold and windy. Some of the buildings were not open and it was a walking tour. After the tour, we loaded the bus to go tour games in the evening in Arnhem against the local youth team. It was quite an experience for our players as the dutchies had a degree of playing sophistication and using the body that made life difficult for us.
we played 2 games - 2 different age groups and we got better as the games went on, but did not have enough to overcome the local teams. A good learning experience and hopefully we will better because of it.

TUESDAY: another cold, wet and windy day. We trained in the morning and got blasted by freezing rain. We were able to get most of the session in before we had to give in to the weather. Then it was off to Nijmegen, tpo the local soccer shop ( many purchases) and to the NEC grounds for a stadium tour and to watch some training sessions. Then off to our games for the evening -- we did better, but did not do enough to win. We finished the night with pizza at a local restaurant.

Wednesday: we will spend the day in Germany and play Schalke 04 youth team.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Great 2 nd day

sun 3-22-09

quick recap-

Jan arrives and joins us

we play indoor in Someren

Go to Eindhoven for PSV - Vitesse game

beautiful day

all luggage has arrived

meet the dutchies and train today

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Great first day in Holland

Sat. March 21, 2009

Sunshine and blue skies greeted us as we awoke to our first full day in country.
After a typical Dutch breakfast (eggs, bread, butter, jelly, cereal, milk and juice), we were off to Amsterdam. We arrived on time for our scheduled tour of the Ajax Arena. The tour took us through all the various areas of the Arena and culminated with a group photo taken down on the field.

Following the tour, we headed to the Youth training center at Ajax ( The Futuro ) and we watched a training session of the reserve team. The pace of the session was very lively, with high intensity and plenty of competition on the field. Our group was very impressed by the session and loud the players were during the session. Intensity and communication were the 2 most significant aspects of the session.

After the training session, it was back to the Arena for the Ajax Museum tour and a visit to the Ajax gift shop. After making our purchases, we were off to downtown A,sterdam and a Canal cruise. Amsterdam is truly a unique city in the world and our short visit did not disappoint. The volume of pepoplem and bikes, were awesome. The Canal cruise gave us an overall impression of Amsterdam and then our short shopping spree put us dead center amongst the volume of people. We all wished for more time in Amsterdam, but our schedule did not permit it. We were off to Doetichem, about a 2 hour drive back to near where we started from, for our professional game (De Graafschaap vs Heerenveen. We ate at a restaurant along the way and the ribs and schnitzel filled everyone.

The game was awesome -- small stadium, filled to capacity with passionate home fans, cheering their team on to an upset-victory. Kick-off was 8:45 local time. The walk up to Stadium was through a wooden area, which would not resemble anything we have back home. Bikes lined the trees at the edge of the walkway and the crowd was building as we approached the stadium. Great game - 2 - 0 win fot the home team, who desperately needed the 3 points. It was a clash of the bootom of the table home team vs the 4th place team in the league. The players and fans both celebrated the victory.

Back on the bus for the short return trip to our 'digs' -- it was after midnight when we arrived back and the adrenaline from the day's activities, kept sleep away for a little bit longer/

Today, Saturday, we start with a late breakfast at 9 am, a vidit to the War Cemetary, and then off to 3 hours of training and playing at a facilty near Eindhoven, the site of our professional game tonight -- PSV (Eindhoven) vs Vitesse (Arnhem) -- should be another great game lloaded with atmosphere and passionate fans.

more later, after the day's activities. Everyone is doing fine and settling in well.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finally !! We Arrived !!!

Thursday March 19, 2009

After many twists in the tail, then group srrived in Dusseldorf, Germany --
but not without a certain amount of aggravation. The Washington - Franfurt connection went smoothly, while the Chicago - Munich one made up for it.
The St. Louis departure was first delayed in the terminal, as the plane had a mechanical problem. Soon came the announcement that we would be taking a different plane -- moree delay (it had not even shown up yet ?). Then, after boarding that plane, it was determined that it was not running just right -- more delay, frustration and hope. WE were told that if we did not take-off by 4:30m that we would miss our connectionn to Germany. Fortunately, a little after 4:15 we were building up steam and awy wwe were. Kudosn to the pilot for getting us to Chicago in 40 minutes - TOPS !!!

Once we landed in Chicago, our next plane to Germany was already boarding. No wasted time and we made it to thgen gate in time and boarded -- thenn waited 45 minutes for a pet (a dog) to join us. Then we were off for a smooth ride - long but smooth.

Then we arrived at Munich and our plans were to travel the last leg on Lufthansa Airlines. We got to the ticket counter to get our boarding passes only to be told that we were not in the system !! After numerous interactions it was sorted and we completed the flight to Dusseldorf, arriving on time --- unfortunately our luggage did not !!! 19 of us were without luggage -- albeit the carry-on version. FINALLY, 5 HOURS LATER, MOST OF THE LUGGAGE ARRIVED AT OUR HOSTEL --- minus luggage of 5 people. The remaining missing luggage was located and will reach us on Friday -- the day we keave here at 8 am for a full day in Amsterdam anda professional game at night.

The group of Washington-Frankfurt also had aa lost bag, but it will arrive with the others on Friday.

After settling in, we had sandwiches and fruit and took a walk into the village.
Now it's off to dinner and a big day tomorrow.

So far, we are glad to bwe here and looking forward to each dayt's experience.