Arundel School has proven a formidable side to beat on its hockey first team tour to England, sharpening their skills in preparation for the upcoming field hockey season. The Swallows travelled to the UK with 17 girls, ranging from Form 3 to Upper Six and two coaches for two weeks, from 15-30 April, 2016.
As part of the tour, the girls experienced six externally coached sessions, led by coaches including an ex-England national player. They have also played five games against competitive youth sides. In their first game, Arundel won 7-4 against Exeter School. They then drew 3-3 against Cheltenham Ladies College, and won with an impressive 7-1 against the Reading University second team.
On Tuesday, 26 April, Arundel faced Norwich Dragons U18 team, their stiffest competition yet in the fiercest conditions. Playing in -1 degree Celsius weather, amidst snow and sleet, the Swallows held the Dragons to a 3-3 draw until the last minute of the game. Just before the referee’s final whistle, she called for a penalty against Arundel. Norwich sunk a penalty flick to win 4-3 in the last minute of play.
Yesterday Arundel faced Dereham Hockey Club, their final game of their UK tour, and suffered a narrow 2-3 defeat, again in very frigid weather conditions..
One of the youngest touring players, Form Three student Gugulethu Sibanda, has been outstanding on the striking line, scoring a number of Arundel’s goals. Kate Lavers has been a force in midfield during the tour. Captain Chido Ranganai and her Vice Captain Catherine Siyachitema have stood strong in defense.
Arundel Coach Joey Swanepoel explained that the goals for the trip included exposing the players to different styles of play and encouraging them to try new tactics that will complement their game when they return to Zimbabwe: “I want them to gain confidence in themselves and in their team as well as show everyone what they are capable of,” she told SSN. “They have impressed everyone as Zimbabweans and as Arundel with their manners, their determination to learn and their attentiveness.”