A year in the planning, following a hugely successful 2014 tour in South Africa, Sedbergh School girls competed at netball and hockey for the first time in Dubai.  Accompanied by Sedbergh School Hockey Coach Mark Shopland and Head of Girls’ Games Lucia Sdao, the group stayed in a hotel in Al Barsha, an area of Dubai which is well placed for getting to everything. 

Lucia Sdao said: “The plan was to get great competition but also to experience all that Dubai had to offer, to give our girls an insight into the different culture. It’s a great location for a tour because travel times are short. Of course, the main challenge for our girls was the heat.

“I was coaching in Dubai last year and heard about the Dubai College International Netball Tournament. I  thought it would be a great opportunity for our girls to play against some international competition. The schools involved were UAE and UK based and we were lucky, too, because I had a contact at Dubai Hockey, who set up some great matches during our tour.”
The team landed in the evening, after an early start from Sedbergh. Despite a four-hour time difference, everyone was up early for the Dubai College Tournament which started at 8.30am – which was 04.30 to our girls. “The girls were brilliant, got warmed up, got going without any encouragement. Most mornings they did core strength and cardio sessions in the hotel gym –good two-hour sessions in between all the fixtures. It was a sports tour after all.”
“Emilia Tyser, School Hockey Captain, and Laylah Scott (Tour Netball Captain) set a very good example and were great fun, keeping the spirits of the group buoyant as well as leading on their fields of play. The whole group was amazing – they were respectful of the culture with dress and their attitudes, and proved to be such a great group of young Sedbergh ladies. I would take them again tomorrow.” 
The first half of the Dubai College netball tournament went really well and the struggle only began in the second half as temperatures soared. Despite this, Sedbergh U18s went onto win the Plate, and the U16s won the Bowl – great results bearing in mind the heat!
Holly Hesford (R, L6) was voted ‘Player of the Tournament’ by the umpires and the Sedbergh team attracted a lot of support from the Sedbergh world-wide community – staff who were overseas, aunties and mums as well as OS families, just showing how much our Brown family show their support.
The first Hockey fixture was against Dubai Hockey Youth and Ladies on the Sunday night. This was the first time the girls had played on a crumb pitch, giving an extra challenge to the girls. They still won 4-0 though!

The Thursday night fixture against Abu Dhabi Netball Academy also saw a win of 25-12, playing in temperatures in excess of 35c. Fixtures against Dubai Hockey and Ladies’ and Men’s teams weren’t victories but were fantastic physical games where our girls learnt a great deal.
Beyond the fixtures, the tour included activities such as 4 x 4 Desert Safari, visiting the Burj Khalifa, Paddle Boarding at the beach, Camel Riding and the Wild Wadi Water Park. The tour was only made possible with generous donations from parents, and with sponsorship from Bibby’s of Ingleton and N Peal Cashmere
We look forward to more international competition when we travel to South Africa in the summer of 2016 for netball and hockey again.

View the Tour flipagram here

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