Heath Hoops On Tour
Sun, Sangria, Sevens Netball…. What’s not to like?
That’s what 7 of the Hoops gang thought when they heard about the opportunity to nip to Spain’s premier sports resort for 4 nights to play in a netball tournament in 27 degrees; a chance to top up the tan and get fit. How could they say no? Steph, Jodi, Chanel, Laura, Shirley, Nicole and Natalie abroad together. Let’s hope they bothered to get insurance…
Preparation involved t shirt printing and dress orders; if they struggled with nicknames then they certainly won’t next year! Complete with a comprehensive packing list the squad was ready to depart. Of course it wouldn’t have been the same without the company of Emma and Sharon who were winging it over on a freebie as umpires (the cheeky so and sos!).
The first couple of days were just what the doctor ordered; lounging by the pool sangria in hand after proudly unpacking our kits (a free Gilbert dress in black and pink with our team name printed) in the 4 star aparthotel accomodation. Free wifi helped us mums keep in touch with reality and the huge fridge-freezers accommodated for all the food and drink we grabbed on the supermarket run. Ideal for having what you want, when you want.
The resort itself is bathed in Spanish sunshine, with villas and accommodation stretching across the valley whilst the golf course and tennis centre are populated with all abilities making the most of their break. Shirley enjoyed a round of 18 holes- the rest conserving their energy for the netball and the pool party (might I add Shirley has more than enough energy to keep up with them all!) At the heart of the resort there are restaurants, bars and a few shops (reached by free shuttle bus up and down the hillside). Although a couple of the girls braved a 4 mile run to take in the local scenery one morning bumping into plenty of Spanish cyclist enthusiasts enjoying a similar trip. A sweaty one I’m told!
The pool party Thursday could have been a nice gentle way to get in to the swing of La Manga Sports Tour life. It wasn’t. With 39 netball teams, Surrey Storm (yes the real deal!), rugby 7s, football 7s and a headlining DJ by the name of Lauren Pope it was all a bit too exciting for Hoops. How could they go and get an early night now?!
Needless to say Hoops’ run out on day one of the tournament left something to be desired… A couple of draws (when do you ever draw in netball?), two wins and a loss across 5 12 minute matches was too much to ask and Hoops were drawn on day 2 of the tournament in the plate competition. It meant they had a great chance of competing for the plate title in day 2 however! All wasn’t lost as they had Nicole’s birthday tapas meal and drinks to look forward to. Time again to get the gladrags on and embrace the night!
Tournament finals day was an early start at 10am. Loads more netball this time and no subs; time to pull up their socks and game face it into the finals. At least that was the plan. Hoops were already acclimatised to the temperature by this point and with Shirley geeing everyone up and Steph picking a winning line up the team flew towards the knockouts in style. A golden goal after full time in the 6th fixture took Hoops through to face the 7th and final match of the day. Here perhaps the squad needed some subs to share the work rate. Hoops tousled against a team who used loopy balls to outsmart their court positioning. That meant the end of the La Manga Netball journey!! Out but not down… Hoops were proud of their achievements and the quality of netball produced made up of a team from all three Hoops squads with only one preparation friendly played before the team crossed international waters.
Saturday night was all about the awards ceremony. Free wine, a great buffet spread and superb view of the bay at the top of the spa building meant the netballers were wrapping up in style. Taking advantage of some selfie opportunities with the great Tamsin Greenway and congratulating the competition winners left only one thing to do… dance the night away with each other in Undersun and blast out some kareoke in the Irish pub. What a great way to complete a superb trip together!
Hoops have made new friends for life thanks to this trip. So much so that their place is already reserved for 2017 and you can be part of it!