The parents and relatives who joined the players and coaches for this trip made it even more special
For the third summer in a row the Għajnsielem Redcoats travelled with the youth fastpitch softball team for a training camp on mainland Europe. In 2016 the Redcoats travelled to Heerhugowaard in the Netherlands to team up with BC The Herons. Last summer SK Joudrs Praha hosted the youths for a training camp in Prague, the Czech Republic. This summer, thanks to the Erasmus+ Sports: Small Collaborative Partnerships project of the Club, INCLUSION & GENDER EQUALITY THROUGH SOFTBALL (IGETS), sixteen youth players and their coaches travelled to Zagreb, Croatia, for a Triangular Training Camp and Tournament with hosts SK Princ Zagreb and Honk- en Softbalvereniging Olympia Haarlem of the Netherlands.
As in previous years, the training camp was very productive and the players, as well as the coaches, benefited significantly from it. The difference from the other training camps was that there were three teams and that it included a tournament. The youth teams of the Club yearn for competitive games against other youth teams as in Malta the Għajnsielem Redcoats are the only youth softball team and as a result do not have any teams against whom they can play. The Redcoats did extremely well and ended up winning the tournament. Strangely enough the two tournament games played in Zagreb were the first ever fastpitch softball youth competitive games for the Redcoats.
Once again the Redcoats managed to combine their softball training camp with a thoroughly enjoyable summer break. They travelled to Venice, Italy, where they enjoyed a day at the Aqualandia waterpark and even had time to visit the city of Venice itself. On their way to Zagreb, through Slovenia, the team also stopped to see the Postojna Caves. This was a very nice and educative experience for the entire group.
The parents and relatives who joined the players for this trip made it even more special, as did the crew of Citadel Video Communications who accompanied the Redcoats to document the training camp and tournament as well as to report the activities on national television. While in Zagreb, there was also plenty of sightseeing and shopping for the players. The evenings out in the city for dinner were especially memorable.
On the way back from Zagreb to Venice, the Redcoats made a stop in Ljubljana and had the opportunity to do some sightseeing at that wonderful city. The group saw enough to want to visit again. Although AirMalta did let everyone down with the extended delay of the flight back home from Marco Polo Airport, the wonderful memories of a week spent together were not at all tarnished.
The Redcoats know that they belong in Europe. They are as much a European softball club as Olympia, Princ, Joudrs or the Herons. The youth team is gradually reaching a level where it can be a match to most of the youth club teams from across Europe. Yes, it is more complicated and expensive for the Club to participate in tournaments abroad, however, that represents a challenge that the Għajnsielem Redcoats know that they can overcome.
Over the coming months the Club will decide where the next destination of the youth softball team will be for the summer of 2019. The options are many as the Club has already received invitations to participate in training camps as well as tournaments. The Club is also keen to travel with the U12 baseball team next summer. There is much to look forward to for the upcoming season for the club and its members and much to do in order to continue to build on the achievements of the season which just concluded with the Zagreb training camp.
IGETS is a two-year project co-financed by the European Union. The Għajnsielem Redcoats received assistance from the Ministry of Education and Employment through the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport & Voluntary Organisations to meet its co-financing obligations.
Disclaimer: This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.