Author: George Fisher, Turnford U16
I was so excited to be selected for the U19s England tour in August of this year. We were travelling to Botswana and were due to play the Botswana senior squad, ranked 16th in the world, U20s national squad and Namibia’s national squad.
The team met at Heathrow on 5th August where we received our tour schedules and target stats for the tour. We got a plane to Johannesburg, which was delayed for a couple of hours and then after a sprint finish just made it to our internal flight to Gaborone which is the capital of Botswana, that’s where we stayed at the Oasis Motel. The total journey took about 14 hours. The motel had a swimming pool but it was so cold we used it as an ice bath/recovery after training and matches!!
Unfortunately Namibia had not been able to come to play us so all of our matches would be against Senior and U20 Botswanan squads.
Days 1-4 Our first two days were spent traveling, resting, stretching and strengthening, there was no jetlag as they are only one hour ahead of us. We had two training sessions on day three and went to visit Mokolodi nature reserve safari park in the morning of day four before another training session. We saw giraffes, antelopes, hippos and baboons, it was really good.
Day 5 – We completed our training session outside on a Botswanan style court before travelling to the Otse Police training college to play our first match v Botswana under 20s. The supporters sat about two feet behind the goals and were very loud and enthusiastic singing and cheering. We won 71-16 and I took to court in second half as GA with Alice Travis as GS. At the end of the match the Botswanan supporters came onto the court and sang and danced with us to celebrate the win.
Day 6 – We played Botswana seniors who were a much stronger opposition and I took to court for the second half of the match as GA. We took the win 42-35.
Days 7&8 – We played the senior squad again both days, this time on outdoor courts and won 53-37 & 42-34. I was starting 7 in the first match and came on at half time in the second as we were only winning by one goal at half time. They keep score using chalk marks on the floor!! The sun was shining and it was so hot they gave us umbrellas to sit under.
Day 9 -In the morning we were invited to play deaf netball at the British High Commissioner’s house. This was one of the best days as we were not allowed to talk or make noises at all on court and all penalties etc are signalled by red flags being waved by the umpires. In the evening we played the U20s squad again and won 70-22.
Day 10 – This was the final day of match play at the National stadium where we played U20s. We all played in our second positions it was good fun and we took the win 53-27. It was a great way to end our tour. Six out of six wins!! Undefeated!! That evening our hotel put on a Braai (what they call a BBQ locally) for us the food was delicious and there was lots of it.
I took to court on all six matches and have gained 12 international caps this year! Three for U17s and 9 for U19s.
The local people and supporters were amazing singing throughout our warm ups and matches. They would turn up at our hotel and start taking pictures of us, this made us feel like celebrities! We left to travel home on day 10 and arrived back in England on 15th August.
It was an amazing experience, shared with a fantastic group of girls, something that I will never forget and has made me determined to get selected for many more tours in the future!
Hard work pays off!!