Day 0: Sunday
In the early hours of Sunday morning, 2nd of July, members of the North East Knights U16 and U18 squads began their journey to the 5-day Intersport Youth Basketball Festival in Kaposvar, Hungary. The 12-hour trip began with a meetup at 6.15am in Dublin Airport:
After over 12 hours from the meetup at Dublin Airport to stepping off the bus in Kaposvar, and a well deserved sleep that night, the basketball began bright and early at 9.30am monday morning with the U18 Girls being the first to step onto the Hungarian courts:
Day 1: Monday
A great day of basketball behind them, the Knights showed their national pride at the official opening ceremony:
Their country well represented, the Knights settled into a highly nutritious dinner ahead of the next day's games.
Day 2: Tuesday
Basketball aside, today was the day the U18 boys adopted their mascot for the week:
And the girls choreographed their team cheer:
Day 3: Wednesday
Today was the end of the group stage games for the U16 Girls, U18 Girls and U18 Boys, who finished in 3rd, 3rd and 2nd, respectively. The U18 Boys brought their new friend out for dessert as a celebration, much to the confusion of the wait staff at the local restaurant:
Day 4: Thursday
An exciting day of basketball, with the U18 Girls and U16 Girls both winning their semi-finals (U18 Girls winning with a golden basket in extra time!), making themselves the first North East teams to make it to the finals of the competition. The U16 Boys finished their group stage in 3rd place, but were unfortunately confined to the 3rd/4th playoff without a semi final.
As a celebration, the squad was taken to the local waterpark, and out to dinner by U16 Manager and main sponsor, Giuseppe of Roma Cavan Town.
The hearty meal was much appreciated by all, and definitely needed with the tough day of basketball ahead:
Day 5: Friday (Last day)
A proud day for the region, as 3 teams got to stand tall as Amhrán na bhFiann bellowed throughout the halls of Kaposvar. Clearly, a situation the organisers weren't wholly prepared for, as they played the often-neglected first verse. Confused by the unusual starting point, and the off-key recording being played, the Knights were mostly silent for the entirety of the verse. The organisers were ready to turn off the music by the time it got to Sinne Fianna Fáil, at which point the Knights took over, and were determined to sing their national anthem whether there was a backing track or not:
All 4 teams on the final day:
Return + Thanks
This adventure did not happen on it's own.
Kristof and Lilli
From when we arrived in Bratislava airport to when we boarded the bus back to it, we were assisted by our guides and translators Kristof and Lilli, without whom we would have surely never figured out the bus schedule, and missed half our games because of it.
Table Officials, Referees and First Aid staff
The people who let us actually play basketball. Many of them pulling 12 hour shifts all 5 days of the tournament, they remained enthusiastic and professional to the very end. The first aid staff, maybe a bit overenthusiastic at times:
Players, Parents, Coaches, Sponsors
Everyone involved with the North East Knights since the trials back in January, all that work has led to this amazing week and amazing result. It couldn't have been done without any one of you,