The training camp was thorough and will most certainly help the Redcoats as they seek to improve their game in preparation for their first ever participation in an international softball tournament in July 2018
Soon after returning from the Netherlands from a joint training camp with BC The Herons in July 2016, the coaches and the players of the youth softball team of the Ghajnsielem Redcoats were determined to do it again the following year. SK Joudrs Praha was immediately short listed as one of the potential clubs with whom to partner because of their reputation as one of the leading softball clubs in Europe. The determination of the club to make this trip happen was eventually rewarded last December when Eva Rychtarikova confirmed that her club would be able to host the Redcoats between July 31 and August 4.
Out of the twenty players who make up the youth softball squad of the Redcoats fifteen made the trip to the Czech Republic. Coaches Joseph Scicluna and Steve Ellis accompanied the players. On the insistence of the coaches six parents and a child also joined the group so that a total of 24 people were on the flight to Prague on Saturday, July 29. The team lodged at Hotel Aida which was about 20 min away by public transport from the facilities of Joudrs. The Redcoats were also lucky to be able to attend the final of the Men’s U19 European Softball Championship between the Czech Republic and Denmark, a game which was dominated by the hosts.
Coach Rychtarikova designed a very intensive and comprehensive training camp over the course of five days with sessions starting at 3pm in the afternoon and continuing till 8pm in the evening. In order to ensure that her players along with the Redcoats get the most out of the sessions she assembled a talented team of coaches which also included a sports psychologist and coaches for each position on the field. Most of the focus was on the pitchers who had a 45min session each day with US coach Alyson Spinas-Valainis.
Despite the heat wave that made it very difficult to practice during the first two days of the training camp, the girls tried their best to gain as much from the experience. Luckily by Wednesday, the heat subsided a little and the sessions became more fun. The team defence session on Wednesday was very productive. The water sliding on Thursday was quite a lot of fun for the girls. On Friday, the final day of the camp the session with the sports psychologist was very beneficial and entertaining as it helped improve self-confidence, communication, as well as team work through fun games.
The training camp concluded with two exhibition games between the Redcoats and Joudrs. During both games the Redcoats performed very well especially pitchers Estelle Scicluna and Denise Xuereb. Although the Redcoats lost both games by a narrow margin they were really satisfied with their achievements. Given that these two games were the first in over five months for this group of players and that some of the girls were playing their first ever softball game, the coaches were happy with the overall performance. The players have improved so much from their exhibition games played in North Holland the previous summer. They still lack confidence and experience, however, that should come during the course of the up-coming season as more games are scheduled for the softball fastpitch teams in Malta.
Once again the Ghajnsielem Redcoats managed to combine a highly intensive joint softball training camp abroad with a thoroughly enjoyable vacation for the youth players. The inclusion of those parents who volunteered to join their daughters for the trip made it even more special this time round. Prague turned out to be a fantastic city to visit for sightseeing as well as for shopping. One of the highlights was the morning spent at the Prague Zoo, one of the biggest in Europe. As was the day trip to picturesque Dresden.
The training camp was thorough and will most certainly help the Redcoats as they seek to improve their game in preparation for their first ever participation in an international softball tournament abroad in July 2018. The trip was also successful in strengthening the ties with SK Joudrs Praha, and there are plans for further cooperation in the future between the two clubs.
This coming season will be an important test for the Redcoats as more will be expected from the softball team. With so many promising players becoming eligible to play in the women’s fastpitch team, there will be a healthy competition for places. This should ensure that those with a strong desire to play softball at the highest level will be committed and determined to achieve the required standard. The Club is also working hard to ensure that the level of coaching continues to improve so that the long term targets set for the softball programme can be achieved.