Last January the training schedules for this years North East Knights teams began.
Trials for the U16 and 18 teams took place in February and a few months those teams travelled to the Eurobasket 2019 international basketball tournament in Spain. This is just a short account of their week.
Day 0: Saturday
On Saturday morning, 29th of June, members of the North East Knights U16 and U18 squads and their coaches and managers began their journey to the 6-day Eurobasket 2019 basketball tournament in Lloret de Mar on the sunny Costa Brava in Spain . The group flew from Dublin to Manchester then onward to Barcelona.
Following a one and a half hour bus drive they arrived at their accommodation in the Hotel Astoria Park around 1am where it was straight to bed(almost) for a well needed needed night's sleep in preparation for the tournament start the following day.
Day 1: Sunday
Following a relaxing morning the afternoon saw three of the teams – U16 Boys and Girls and the U18 Girls take to the court for the first of their group games against teams from France, Italy and Spain.
Meanwhile a challenge game was arranged for the U18 boys to get them into the action. Following good wins for the U16 boys and girls it was time that evening for the Knights to show their national pride at the official opening ceremony. The flag was carried for the Irish group by the U18 boys captain, Wiliam Ochuba.
Day 2: Monday
With wins on court for the U18 Girls and boys, today was the also the day that all teams got an opportunity to enjoy all the water activity on Lloret de Mar beach for a short while.
Day 3: Tuesday
As games had been organised for the U16 and U18 Girls for Tuesday evening with teams in Barcelona the group availed of the opportunity to travel into the city a little earlier to see some of the sights. Following a visit to La Sagrada Familia the players then had some time to spend exploring Placa Catalunya and Las Ramblas, Barcelona's famous 1.2km long pedestrianised street.
It was on then to Club Esportiu Diagonal Mar basketball club for an evening of more highly entertaining games – while the local teams prevailed by just a basket in both matches there was some really high quality basketball on show from all the teams and our players and coaches were presented with key rings as mementoes of their visit.
Day 4: Wednesday
Durning the afternoon break between morning and evening games the teams all enjoyed a little relaxation time back at the hotel where some players were acquainted with the great Spanish tradition of 'siesta time'. After lunch everyone joined in the birthday celebrations for Elijah and Lucia, with some lovely local cakes.
The tournament 'Coaches' game' took place on Wednesday night with Fu Faapito and Michael O'Reilly taking to the court on behalf of the Knights. A downtown score from Fu just before half time gave the supporters plenty to cheer about.
Day 5: Thursday
This was a very long and busy day for the Knights contingent with a total of 6 games throughout the day with the first at 9.30am and the last at 10.30pm. The final group games for the U16 Boys and Girls(with both teams having two games each) as well as the U18 Girls took place as well as the U18 boys semifinal, which was won convincingly by the North East Knights in the final game of the day.
Day 6: Friday
This was finals day and saw all teams in action throughout the day, with silverware being won by everyone as follows:
U18 Girls: W01/02 Final: Winners
U16 Girls: W02/03 Final: Winners
U16 Boys: M03/04 3rd Place Play Off: Winners
U18 Boys: M01/02 Final: Winners
The tournament came to a close later that evening with the Awards & Closing Ceremony and it is fair to say that the Knights contingent enjoyed every last moment of the celebrations with lots of photographs taken with each other and their new friends.
The celebrations continued afterwards with a small treat for each team thanks to some generous sponsorship of this year's trip.
Day 7: Saturday – Coming home
And then it was time to leave – an evening flight meant everyone could have a fairly relaxed morning before an early lunch prior to boarding our bus for the airport.
Unfortunatley the trip home was a litle less straightforward than the outward one with a number of delays. Having boarded the plane in Barcelona we all sat for an hour wating for takeoff as an issue with some baggage(not ours) was sorted. The pilot made up a lot of time however and we were actually only 35 minutes late arriving in Manchester. A quiet time in the airport meant our checkin there was quick and we were at our boarding gate in loads of time for our 10.05pm onward flight to Dublin – but the plane wasn't so we passed the time with chat and card games and our players smiled through it all!
Finally, just 30mins later than scheduled we arrived back safely in Dublin and reunited with their families.
Of course the whole trip could not have happened without the help and assistance of a large group of people giving their time, effort and money to make it a success.
Sponsors: The NEBB Knights are indebted to the following sponsors for the financial support of the 2019 trip:
• O'Reilly Hoofcare
• Brady Management Global
• Douglas & Kaldi
• Premier Property Holdings
• Eason, Cavan & Mullingar
• Noel Larkin & Associates, Chartered Building Surveyors
Coaches and Managers
A huge thanks to those who volunteered their time and expertise to make it possible. As well as coaching/managing the teams in preparation for and during the tournament members of the group looked after designing and sourcing the stylish teamwear and back packs, booked and sorted the flights itinerary for the whole group and looked after accommodation and other logistical details needed for a project like this – thank you Tony, Fu, Brian, Michael, Greta, Sinead, Jessica, Ursula and Clare.
Players and Parents
To everyone involved with the North East Knights since the trials back in January –
players committing to training and parents making sure they got there - all that work has led to what was an amazing week for the u16 and u18 players - It couldn't have been done without any one of you.
And finally – a huge thank you to everyone involved in organising and running the
tournament for their hard work, friendliness, enthusiasm and all round helpfulness –
Giusseppe, Veronica, Andrea, Anita, Erica and Leo Basket to name but a few!
Video compilation of the North East Knights U16 & U18 Girls and Boys trip to Lloret de Mar 2019, by coach Tony Ayres.