With the under 18s team's Dutch tour drawing to a close, defender Reece Hutchinson has written the second-part of the academy's tour blog, detailing all the events from an excitinhg
Sunday was another early start which meant getting up at 8am (for most lads) and heading down for breakfast for 8:25am. This would be our first day stay in Heemskerk meaning getting used to our surroundings.
Following the disappointing loss during Saturday’s game the mood in camp was a bit shallow so with a trip to Amsterdam arena (home of Ajax) and 2 hour 30 minute stay in central Amsterdam the mood could only improve.
However, before that the players would have a light training session involving some shadow work covering the basics from Saturdays defeat, followed by a short 10 minutes possession practice. This was a great opportunity for the players to recap the performance and what they could have improved on.
After the session we had a 15 minute bike ride back to the hotel from the training base and would all be ready for a 12pm leave for Amsterdam.
The journey was relatively short only taking 25 minutes. We arrived at the stunning Amsterdam arena where we would begin a tour of all the facilities. One of the main things that stunned the players was the stylish shape of the ground and the capacity it holds.
The last part of the tour lead us to the magnificent achievements of Ajax's past and present. The cabinet was full of dazzling trophies such as champions league trophy and Eredivisie titles. Once we completed the tour it was a 15 minute drive to central Amsterdam which was complete carnage! It was a huge populated area full of tourists and people on bikes.
Amsterdam square which was packed due to a concert playing. After that we began walking through the town where we eventually stopped off for a light snack before heading back to the coach. We arrived back into the hotel about 6:15pm just in time for all players to shower before dinner which was at 7pm.
After dinner players would enjoy some relaxation time to spend playing PS4 and cards, before a 10pm bedtime!
Monday dawned and we were aloud a lie in as breakfast was pushed back to 9:30! We then began
normal routine of a 15 minute bike ride to our training camp known as Odin 59 ground. The training
session was in preparation for tomorrow’s game against NAC Breda so it was a fairly light session
consisting of a phase of play and small sided competitive games to finish off with.
Training was done and players embarked back to the hotel. Players showered and went straight to the castle for lunch. After lunch a meeting was called at approximately 2:30pm where all players and staff would re-watch Saturday's defeat while writing down improvements and things we did well on a white board.
The meeting finished at around 5pm and it was time for some team bonding! Coaches had made a quiz based on questions on Holland and general knowledge, the lads thoroughly enjoyed it as it was competitive and a bit of a laugh.
After dinner we had our 4th GoFormative review in which we
highlighted about the events on game day 1 against ADO Den Haag.
Tuesday arrived and it was game day! NAC Breda were our opponents and the lads were feeling in high spirits. Due to the timing of the game breakfast was at the later time of 9:30 which pleased the lads as they would have more rest!
For the injured lads it was a 7:45am meet to do rehab work in the gym involving mobility, which took us up to 9:00am. The coach to the game left at 11am and the journey to the game took around 1 hour 45 minutes! It was a tough game and another great experience for the lads as it was a strong and technically gifted side. Unfortunately, it ended in defeat.
Once the game had finished we journeyed back to the hotel where we all sat down for dinner, and as usual it was fantastic! We once again had a LFE GOFormative meeting at 8:15pm where we had to complete two sections involving the game today and life in Amsterdam when we visited.
Wednesday had more of a calm vibe to it as today's session was recovery after yesterday's game! Again for the injured players it was a 10am trip down to the local gym for a intense lower body session to help aid recovery and maintain strength.
On a more personal note it was a chance for me
to test out my groin and see if I will be available for Saturday's tournament. For the other player’s it was a usual 15 minute bike down to the training base where they would complete a recovery session involving light possession practices and small sided games.
Following the session we all had 1 hour to get showered and have lunch down at the colossal castle. In the afternoon all players and staff would then take a fantastic scenic bike ride to the beach which took 25 minutes! It was miles of open golden sand that we walked along however the sea was very rough and cold but we took the plunge anyway!
We had mini games involving diving into the sea and relays. Everyone took part and had a fantastic time. After our 1 hour 30 minutes luxurious stay we wandered back to the hotel where dinner was waiting for us at 6:30pm.
Following dinner the lads had some spare time to relax as tomorrow was going to be another exciting, packed day.
Thursday started of as usual with a light breakfast at 9:00am. This was before a 10:30 bike ride to Odin 59 training base. This was not an ordinary session as we had a guest coach once again from Volendam taking our training. His name was Sander Veraart.
The injured players including myself stepped up rehab with running and ball work in order to be able to train tomorrow. This was going to be a big stepping stone as we haven't fully tried out our injuries.
The Volderdam coach showed different techniques during training that will be a great experience for players and coaches. Practices included possession and a transition games in order to score the most goals.
Winning is vital in Dutch football so the losers had consequences and had to perform 20 push ups. Friday was more of a tense atmosphere as we all knew we had to start packing our cases to go home.
The day started off a bit later with a 9:30am breakfast. In between breakfast and lunch we had to find time to organise our cases as this afternoon had a busy schedule.
After lunch we had a 2pm light training session involving waves attacks. I managed to complete training myself so therefore would be part of the squad which I was ecstatic about!
The real buzz around the camp was that we had a 1 hour 30 minute drive to the home of ADO den Haag where we would watch them compete in their first league game of this Eredivisie season against the fierce rivals FC Utrecht.
It was a tight contested game with passionate fans on either side howling for goals, the eventual winners were FC Utrecht by 3-0 margin.
Our final day was very eventful. It was started with bright and early with breakfast at 7:00am. I was delighted personally as I had been battling a groin injury and to take the captains role in the first game was a special experience.
Teams from FC Utrecht, AZ Alkmaar, Hartlepool and the hosts Volendam all took part. Our first game kicked off at 11am with 1x 35 minute half against the
All together we had a mixed tournament but we never shieded away from a battle and showed desire to come back from a poor start and win our final game with a convincing 2-1 win against a strong FC Groningen. Our strong finish meant we came 5th.
Once the award ceremony finished we were back on the road to the airport. Me and my exhausted teammates were heart broken to be leaving such a beautiful football nation, however, it was time to see our families and start what will hopefully be a successful campaign as we begin our Youth Alliance season against Oldham Athletic next Saturday!