Hockey tour was an eye-opener

Ipswich High School hockey coach Maggie Pineo believes that the English sports system has got a long way to go before it matches the likes of Holland.

By Stuart Watson

Ipswich High School hockey coach Maggie Pineo believes that the English sports system has got a long way to go before it matches the likes of Holland.

Pineo has accompanied her year nine and ten hockey teams on four bi-annual tours to the Netherlands and each time has returned more in awe of the country's hockey set-up.

Pineo said: “Watching even their youngest players train you can see how advanced their skills are.

“Every club over there, even the smaller ones, have their own professional club and some have up to 20 teams across the age groups. The practices sessions are so well formulated and organised.

“The difference there is that they have loads of astro pitches which are always made available. Over here we lock up our pitches after school time.

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“Even the little things, like all the small children having proper sticks rather than cut down ones, makes a difference.

“Every time I return from there I feel reinvigorated for the game, but it makes you realise how much England has got to learn.”

On the recent tour, Ipswich High School topped a tournament of visiting English sides, most schools having come from the north of England.

However, when IHS took on Dutch opponents in friendly matches it was a different story. Pineo explained: “Our under-14 team is one of the strongest I have ever seen at the school, a lot of them play for the county or east of England.

“But when they went out against the first Dutch opponents they got beat 10-1. They came off the pitch and I just thought, wow!

“The Dutch are very physical, in fact a lot of their tackles would be penalised in the English schools league, but the girls soon learnt not to stand back and get pushed off the ball. That will stand them in good stead for the future.”

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