After a yearlong build up to the 2015 tour to Gothenburg, this year’s tour to Disneyland Paris seemed to arrive very fast. Six months had passed since the touring party was confirmed and in that time there had been plenty of fundraising, meetings, training sessions and preparation
With early starts, late finishes and days fully loaded with rides, amusements, music, dancing and most importantly, football, this tour was not for the faint hearted and did not stop to catch breath until the final day driving home. The 18 girls from Thorpe St Andrew and Sixth Form were joined on this rollercoaster tour by twenty similarly excited girls from Bourne Grammar School, Lincolnshire, whilst our bus driver ‘DJ’ Sean was the perfect host on his final overseas tour journey after 24 years in the business. We joined with Bourne Grammar School on our way to Calais and the girls formed a quick bond with each other over five hours of the high school musical franchise. After safely negotiating the ferry crossing and French service stations we arrived at the Davy Crockett Ranch around 8pm, and quickly set about unpacking. After a short team meeting and some initial attempts in the kitchen the girls headed to bed ready for three intense days of football and Disney.
That plan took a major hit overnight as we woke up to monsoon like conditions that did not dissipate until early evening. Despite this, both schools trudged their way around Disneyland mainly through the aid of ponchos and seeking cover in rides such as Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear and Pirate of the Caribbean. Eventually the rain became too much and we returned to the Ranch to dry out before making our way to the tournament. Despite raising everyone’s enthusiasm up ready to go back out into the rain we turned up to find that football was being postponed for the evening and that they would try to shorten games the following day to catch up. After some quick thinking we raced back to the lodge and then straight to the pool to play on the slides and rapids with the GoPro camera proving a big hit.
The following day followed the same format with teams this time choosing to explore Walt Disney Studios. After some early April fool’s day pranks and then two of the coaches forgetting their Disney passes, we arrived at the park in sunny morning conditions. Ratatouille, Crush Coaster and Tower of Terror were big favourites amongst the group although the dry weather also brought significant queues for each ride that had been non-existent on the first day. With no time to return to the Ranch today the teams travelled straight to FC Meaux to take on their French and English opponents.
The shorter games brought about a lot of drawn matches across the tournament with wins proving hard to come by. The ‘A’ team won their first two matches 1-0 with the first being won by a goal which later brought Anya Sadler the ‘Goal of the Tournament’ trophy. Draws followed but that was enough to earn top spot and the number one seed going into the semi-finals. The ‘B’ team suffered defeat to the ‘A’ team in their first match but produced some respectable results in the rest of their matches and with one game remaining still had a chance of reaching the semi-finals themselves. That final result did not go their way and they had to settle for a place in the Plate competition but equally presented them with an excellent opportunity as well.
After a late finish the previous evening the coaches expected to find a very tired and lethargic collection of players the following morning, as the team woke for the final day of football. To the credit of the girls everyone had taken the advice of food, hydration and sleep, and woke up feeling energetic and ready to compete for the trophies. The daily routine switched with football first today, and despite the early start everyone laced up their boots and joined in around the speakers for a dance based warm up. The ‘B’ team faced French opposition on route to winning the Plate Competition, despatching Couilly Montry and Villieparis 2-0 in both matches respectively. They even had time to play a light hearted friendly against English opposition before coming to cheer on the ‘A’ team.
The ‘A’ team players were taking the job very seriously having been drawn against Bourne Grammar School in their semi-final. The two teams had drawn 0-0 the night before and knowing that they would share the coach back to England together bragging rights were definitely being considered. The matches increased in match time for the finals day and once Grace Wells pounced inside the penalty area to open the scoring there would be only one winner. The girls played with great intensity and Chelsea Brister and Bronwyn Lingley added further goals as the team rotated to keep players fresh for the final, wining 3-0.
With roughly an hour wait until the final both teams enjoyed themselves with the music playlist and really made an impression with the other teams around the tournament. As soon as the time came to take the field for the final the girls switched their thinking back to football and from the first whistle it was clear that Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form would not let this opportunity slip against Scarborough Ladies. In one of the best performances a girls’ football team from Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form has put in, the ‘A’ team were totally dominant, pouncing on every loose ball and interchanging brilliantly across the pitch. The final score line of 7-0 almost did not do them justice with almost every player getting in on the act in front of goal.
After both teams gathered to have one final huddle and to spray fizzy ‘shloer’ in celebration, the girls gathered for the trophy presentations. In front of the main stand at FC Meaux both teams were presented with their trophies, the International Cup in particular was enormous and the coaches were pleased this year’s tour did not involve a flight home as they would have needed an extra seat!
A third day at Disneyland followed with the squad splitting between the parks before meeting at Planet Hollywood for the presentation dinner. To our surprise the ‘B’ team were rewarded for their behaviour on and off the pitch with the fair play trophy, with Anya Sadler collecting her goal of the tournament award as well. After some time packing and tidying up the lodges the players gathered at the coaches cabin for their own awards evening. Individual awards and special mentions left many close to tears as the girls really began to realise everything that they had achieved over the previous days and the six months leading up to the tour. The evening curfews were relaxed as players enjoyed the celebrations and finished packing up their lodges before another early start to journey home.
The journey home consisted of a lot of napping, and the team arrived back at school around 6pm to be greeted by parents and family armed with party poppers ready to celebrate all over again. The tour was over but the memories will stay with the coaches and players for a long time, another amazing Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form Football Tour.
Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form, Laundry Lane, Norwich, Norfolk, NR7 0XS
Main Office - 01603 497711 | Student Absence Line - 01603 497722
The Yare Education Trust is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales with company number 10301555. The registered office is at Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form, Laundry Lane, Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich, Norfolk, NR7 0XS. (Telephone - 01603 497711)