Sports Tour 2017

Saturday 1st April

Everybody excited and busy packing.  Mrs Bishopp has completed the very important job of having her nails done to match the sports tour tshirt.  Please stay tuned to news and updates both here and on Twitter.

Monday 3rd April

Let the tour begin!

Apparently there are only 24 hours in a day ... well today it feels like we travelled all 24 to get to Cyprus! Despite the delay at LHR the girls have been brilliant & all credit to them in terms of their behaviour, their ability to self entertain & indeed bringing enough food in their hand luggage to feed a small army let alone 40 Marist girls & boys! 

JP our hockey coach joined us at LHR and within 10 minutes was proudly wearing his pink Marist polo top! Mr Morgan is delighted with the male company, and they've already bonded chatting over PSG & Chelsea.  It was also wonderful to welcome Miss Tooman back to school today as she joins us for the fourth time on sports tour and she was delighted to see the girls once again. 

The hour delay at departure was in stark contrast to the rushed journey through LGW last year to Malta and it was wonderful to sample the very best that T5 had to offer; Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, a massage in the spa... or rather a Wetherspoons breakfast and Boots Meal Deal! 

Arriving at the hotel we were warmly welcomed by resort staff and most importantly we were able to feed Miss Tooman before she got too 'Hangry' ... food is fabulous and girls wolfed it down!  The girls are now checked into their rooms, bags are unpacked (ish!)  In certain rooms the single beds pushed together to make communal sleeping pods and by now I hope they are fast asleep, as indeed does the poor hotel guest who has unfortunately been allocated a room on our floor, gotta feel for them slightly! 

It's an early morning for us, up at 7.30, breakfast at 8, training at 9, lunch at 12, followed by a half day trip to Paphos at 1pm!  We will as always keep you updated via twitter & rest assured the girls are loving it! 
JB (on behalf of LM MT DP ND & JP)

Tuesday 4th April

In the last 24 hrs I have been commended on three separate occasions about the politeness & behaviour of your daughters, naturally I've taken full credit for these qualities & accepted the compliments myself; I taught them that, as the phrase goes! 

I've been mostly kept busy with the Twitter feed today and have left the coaching, managing, counting & supervising of your daughters to my colleagues, who I have to say are doing a fabulous job!  Throughout the course of the day the girls have eaten, trained, eaten, swum, eaten, visited Aphrodite's Rocks, eaten, visited Paphos, eaten, swum 40 lengths, eaten and done a quiz!  I'm half expecting a knock on my door at 1am and to find three Year 8s asking if the restaurant is open for snacks!  Rest assured the all inclusive trip you've paid for is being well utilised and I'm not sure the chef quite knows where the girls are putting all this food! 

Training went well this morning and the commute to each venue and weather certainly helped! A 200m walk to the netball court and a 7 minute drive to the Astro is just brilliant and it has meant we've been able to offer the girls some pool time in the sun already on day one. Coaching standards have been fabulous as always and Nat & JP are making sure the girls are learning new skills as well as consolidating existing ones.

This is handy as our first matches are tomorrow: hockey in the morning and netball in the afternoon. 
Please bear with me as I try and bi-locate, tweet from two venues and ensure all girls get time on court and pitch! 

Girls are excited to play the games tomorrow.  I am hoping hockey players have their kit laid out and are ready to go to breakfast at 7.30am or JP may have to put Mr Morgan on the pitch,  if you have seen the twitter feed today you will understand why this may be an issue! 

This afternoon we had a lovely time in Paphos, the back drop of Super Yachts and the Mediterranean Sea were just astounding and it was great to visit the town again four years on from when we were last here. Unfortunately we were unable to take the Mosaic Tour, but maybe when JCA brings the trip here again in 2021 we can put this back into our itinerary. 

This evening was spent in jovial fashion with free spirited competition at the Douthwaite & Player Quiz Night 
Girls formed teams of 4 or 5 and their general knowledge was put to the test!  Science, History, Culture & Entertainment were also tested!  Miss Tooman was our adjudicator, and so it was left to JP, Mr Morgan and I to form the staff team, The Brainy Bunch. 

(For those of you who have yet to check Twitter I only want to say at this point of the evening that the -4 points for talking was totally unwarranted and unfair and that we, Mr Morgan and I that is, will be contacting Mr McCloskey directly on our return to School in April! )  Well done WAG1 on your shared victory ... I hope the Mars Bars tasted nice! 

The girls have, as I said earlier, been such a great credit to you and ambassadors for the School. They've made me cry with laughter at times and they've thoroughly enjoyed Day 1!  I'm off to sleep now as we need to be on a bus by 8am tomorrow morning and it's already 11pm here!  I'm hoping they'll be time to nap on the way to Nicosia! 

Please keep an eye on twitter throughout the day, we will do our best to keep you updated! 

JB (on behalf of all the other ones!)

Wednesday 5th April



Much like any other day on a Sports Tour, I sit down to pen this blog and I think to myself "now what did we do this morning?" Then what usually happens is I think "seriously, was that only this morning?"  Today has been jam packed and action filled and so it's no wonder that at 9.45pm I had 34 teenage girls all in their bedrooms, in bed and ready for us to turn out the lights and shut their doors! 


The hockey players were up bright & early for breakfast at 7.30am today and on the coach for their first match of the tour vs the Olympia school in Nicosia. The hour long journey was spent mostly sleeping if I'm honest but just a few miles out from the city we woke the girls up to show them the stark image of a Turkish flag marked out on the mountains surrounding the city. The girls had learnt about the Turkish invasion of 1974 from our tour guide Dimitra, but to see the flag stencilled on the hillside was a startling image and brought home the reality of the divided nation and its significant cultural history


At Olympia School in Nicosia we were warmly welcomed by the Headteacher and her staff and ushered through the playground to the Astro. The school has only recently included hockey in its PE curriculum so we played on a slightly smaller Astro than anticipated and against a mixed team of years 9,10 & 11 aged players. 


JP, Mr Morgan and I could not have been more proud of how the girls played on pitch. They were quite simply tenacious in their attack and stalwart in defence and the game, which was largely played against boys from Yrs 9,10,11, was an evenly contested one. Oj was on fire in goal and had she not been as dominating as she was we would have struggled to defend the numerous shots made by the boys who had clearly been able to easily transfer their footballing skills to the hockey pitch. 


Despite the 1-2 loss the game was fabulous fun and the girls loved the opportunity to play the Olympia School ahead of their mini tournament tomorrow. Returning to the hotel the girls were quick to wolf down their lunch and tell their netball friends exactly how old, big, strong, good looking and skilful the opposition had been! 


The netballers had had a full training session with Nat this morning on site at the netball court and the accompanying music of Ed Sherman (see Twitter for this joke) was extremely motivating! Ms Player would just like to point out that she wasn't aware that her autocorrect function was turned on when she was tweeting about music!


Girls worked hard on their positional play and shooting with Nat whilst Miss Tooman made about 14 trips to the shop to replenish water bottles. In preparation for this afternoons games they played small matches against each other whilst Ms Player kept score! The pool provided a great opportunity for a mass icebath and as a result we anticipate no DOMS tomorrow! 


Lunch was once again a popular meeting point for the girls and the amount of food being consumed is brilliant! Pork, chicken, fish, rice, pasta, salad ...the quality is great, although it has to be said the girls do seem rather partial to the green jelly and the ice creams too! 


This afternoon Ms Player, Nat, JP & Mr Morgan all headed off to Dekalia along with our 3 netball teams for a mini tournament for U13 & U15 teams. The local school in Dekalia welcomed the opportunity to play foreign opposition and although at times the games were closely fought, our Marist girls were victorious in their matches.  The other visiting English school, Leventhorpe, who are staying in our hotel with us, gave us some fabulous games and our U15A only won by 17-15 in their tournament game. Overall our U15Bs won one and lost one and our U13 won two! It all bodes well for our match tomorrow vs Foleys School.  JP & Mr Morgan were delighted to be given their own team this pm and happily gave team talks and tactical advice aplenty to the girls! I'm not entirely sure who learnt more, the girls or Mr Morgan and JP! 


Meanwhile back at the hotel Miss Tooman and I had the taxing job of keeping 11 delinquent Marist hockey girls in check! I can't tell you how often I had to tell them to turn down the noise as they turned their kindle pages, or to unwrap their ice creams more quietly whilst sat on their sun beds! It truly was an intensely busy afternoon of supervision!  The pool, which had served as an ice bath earlier on, was very popular with the girls (and me!) this afternoon! It was fabulous to splash around, do cartwheels, handstands and forward rolls in the water ... and the girls had fun too! 


Miss Tooman was keen to get her steps in today so she took a small group of girls to the beach to take a look at the sea and the promenade and as parents of teenage girls you well know, if there's a space to cartwheel, well it'd be rude not to take the opportunity! 


As our netballers returned they were keen to show off their certificates and tell us stories of the games and it was fabulous to see the smiles on their faces and to hear how much fun they'd had! Some of them even had energy to swim a few lengths and pop to the shop for a pre dinner snack! 


Having had such a full on day this evening we made the decision to take all of the girls on a beach walk tonight!  Being just 300m from the main promenade and being natural athletes it seemed the perfect way to spend the evening. These are perhaps I feel the similar thoughts that approximately 30 holidaying couples had earlier tonight; so, having chosen a beautiful beach side restaurant to share a candlelit meal I'm sure they were delighted when Miss Tooman led all 40 of us to their floodlight part of the prom and we chose that point on the beach to allow the girls to paddle in the outgoing tide!  


You have to feel for the diners in the restaurant who perhaps got more entertainment than they'd anticipated at dinner! Cartwheel competitions, piggyback races & "Ed Sherman" renditions took place aplenty just 10m from their restaurant front!  As always though the girls were brilliantly behaved and apart from the numerous grains of volcanic sand that stuck to their feet we left that part of Limassol just as we found it before heading back to our hotel! 


It's an early start again tomorrow for the hockey girls who have a mini tournament in Nicosia at 9am and training later on at 2.30pm.  Netballers get another lie in as they have a lazy morning at the pool with Nat, Miss Tooman and Ms Player ... although word on the street is Nat, as part of her PGCE placement, needs to deliver a water aerobics session, and guess who are going to be her guinea pigs!


As I said earlier on twitter ... some days in this job are just tougher than others! 

Thursday 6th April

Apologies that this blog post is so late, I have literally been laughing my way though the twitter feed from today and messaging Mrs Costa & Mrs T on the highlights of the Tour!  I know I say this on each and every trip, but honestly your girls are a pleasure to spend time with, and on a regular basis have had me in complete stitches! Not least for an hour or so from 7.45 tonight when we've had such a fun evening of entertainment put on by Ms Player! 

Up early, down to breakfast, out of the hotel and on the road to Nicosia by 8am ... our very own Groundhog Day ... but we loved it!  Activ4 have done a fab job of ensuring the hockey team has had a level performance base in terms of matches. The tournament which was organised today by Dimitri was brilliant and we played 3 matches vs local Cypriot schools and also U.K. visiting school Leventhorpe. It was great to see the girls in action and the games were a fair contest of skill and endeavour.

Having been awarded medals by the event organiser we headed back to the hotel at top speed as Mr M, myself and 5 netballers were due to leave for Foleys at 1.55pm and as we didn't leave Nicosia until 1.15pm and  didn't have a magic carpet we knew that either we would have to miss lunch or charter a helicopter!  Luckily dimitri sorted it all and we had 7 packed lunches waiting for us and alongside the plate of chicken nuggets I quickly appropriated from the restaurant, we were fuelled up and on the netball bus in record time! 

The netballers meanwhile had had a much more relaxing morning and thoroughly enjoyed their time by the pool, their elevensies and their sunbathing time! As Mrs May would say it was a "tantastic" morning!  Synchronised handstands, whirlpools, hair braiding, volleyball and for some, the opportunity just to lie on a sunbed and read a book, all of the girls had such fun today and were definitely ready for an afternoon of netball vs Foleys 

The girls played so well against local high school Foleys who were relatively new to the game in that they only had one practice a week and only if it fitted in with their football training. As always the pupils and staff were extremely welcoming and we were delighted to be able to play all three of our teams against the squads and particularly enjoyed the opportunity to play some mixed versatility teams in the last 15 minutes of the match.

What is most lovely on an afternoon like this is seeing your girls interact with other teenagers in the sporting environment. They are a complete credit to you in the way that they behave and interact with girls both on and off the court. It was an absolute joy to see them play alongside Foleys girls and the smiles on their faces, when they did, were just fabulous!. It was also wonderful to give lots of girls the opportunity to umpire as well!  The girls took on the challenge of umpiring their peers, which is no small feat and did so with confidence and aptitude. In fact the member of staff in charge of netball at Foleys was extremely complimentary on the standard of umpiring in the game and the confidence with which the girls expressed themselves. 

Miss Player and Miss Tooman thoroughly enjoyed a chance to go and watch the hockey girls in action today. Naturally very tired after the three games this morning, the afternoon was very much about having fun in the training environment. JP once again pitched the training at the perfect level and the girls had such a fun afternoon. Having begged to have a water fight it seemed only fair in the 25° temperatures to allow them to have a little bit of fun! 

On our return to the hotel both netball and hockey players took the opportunity to either swim with their friends chill in their rooms or in the case of a couple of Year 10's have a little trip to the beach. We have now found the perfect location for a volleyball match on Saturday with a beautiful view of the Mediterranean Sea! 

Following a lovely evening meal we once again joined together for the evening entertainments. Ms player has been spending hours planning intellectually challenging activities and educationally beneficial tasks for the girls! 

But because this is a sports tour we told her to leave those at home and instead would like to have some fun! 47 balloons, 20 different forfeits, two glasses of water, 3 hockey balls and a little bit of string later, we have had such a fun evening. Without exception your girls embraced all the activities on offer tonight and the photos on Twitter do not do the evening entertainment justice! We had such fun! 

JP, Mr Morgan and I are looking forward to the fact that we don't have to get up before 7am tomorrow. Breakfast for the whole cohort is at 8:30 before training begins at 9:15!  The netball girls have the final match of the tour against Leventhorpe on-site at the hotel in the afternoon and our hockey girls have already pre-booked their sunbeds as they laze away their Friday p.m. 

We will as always do our best to keep you updated via Twitter as the day progresses! 

Friday 7th April

Our penultimate day has been a brilliant one and the girls have been fabulously behaved as always, thoroughly embracing all the opportunities afforded to them.  It was lovely to have a bit of a lie in this morning as breakfast was not until 8.30, in fact Mr Morgan was so shocked not to hear his alarm go off he slept until 9.30am! 

The later breakfast meant a later start to matches and training for us all, in fact netball started even later as it turns out I had read the booking sheet wrong and our training didn't even start till 10. So because the girls were ready and because the sun was shining and because the beach is only 100m away we took ourselves off to have a warm up on the sand! And it was not just any sand we warmed up on, we were fortunate enough to be using the Cypriot national beach volleyball court as our warmup area and naturally being the talented athletes that we are we demonstrated some impressive ball skills, I mean not volleyball skills, but ball skills nonetheless in the area on court. 


The Year 10's on the walk down to the beach were very excited with the volcanic sand and the rock armour that they spotted so naturally as it is a cultural school trip and a cross curricular one at times I tweeted the geography department to let them know that learning was going on and progress was being made! 


Meanwhile at hockey training Miss Tooman was having a great time seeing the girls in their natural habitat catching a ball not kicking or hitting a ball!  The warm up activity of handball went down very well with the girls and the staff, in fact Elizabeth was particularly impressed that Miss Tooman even managed to catch it.  The girls did some work on their aerial skills as well as their passing skills and once again JP made the session exciting fun and challenging for all.  The girls have made such progress under his tutelage and I know they have enjoyed all of his sessions and his support on the sidelines at matches and tournaments as well.


Both training sessions finished early enough for the girls to enjoy some pool time, Natalie set up her salon and began to plait the girls hair and Mr Morgan got out his religious ethics book and started planning his A2 scheme of work!  It was a wonderfully relaxing few hours during which time the girls ordered pizza and chicken nuggets and chips and more chicken nuggets and more chips! 


After lunch (which was pasta, salad, pork, chicken & fresh fish) we rearranged our final match so that Leventhorpe girls, who had been orienteering all morning in the Mountains, had some time by the pool. Instead the  girls popped to the shops, enjoyed playing cards, read some books or just chilled by the side of the pool for a few hours in the afternoon sun.  At 4 o'clock however we had our game faces back on for our final match of the tour against Leventhorpe's 3 visiting netball teams.


It was evident to see the progress that the girls have made because of Nat's coaching sessions, a real difference since they last played Leventhorpe just a few days ago.  Positional play and passing skills were notably better the second time around and the girls thoroughly enjoyed the close fought games with the teams who we have been sharing the hotel with this last week.  Seeing dominant performance on court in some closely contested matches was a great way to end the sporting element of the tour! 


After our matches we then started preparing for Cyprus night. Costumes, facepaints, onesies and capes were all that was required this evening when the girls entered the pool area after they had got changed. It's always wonderful to see the efforts that the girls go to when creating the costumes for Cyprus night and yet again they all delivered a fantastic job.  There were team and Year group photos aplenty before we headed into dinner and as the population of hotel residents has increased tonight I think some of them were a little bit shocked with how they thought we would normally dress for dinner!!


Up to the conference room this evening and a quick game of singalong articulate was in order. Possibly one of the funniest team games we have played on tour in a good few years! The girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves and some of them aren't bad singers as well! Your girls really are a pleasure to entertain in the evenings, good spirited, enthusiastic and in this evening's case full of voice.  Obviously keen to continue singing and add a little bit of dancing too, the girls joined us downstairs as local singing and entertaining star Anna arrived with a synthesiser and a playlist straight out of the 1990s, and lots of fun was had on the dancefloor by us all ... Natalie and Mr Morgan would have received a "10 from Len" for their attempt at The Worm 🐛 


We can't quite believe this week has passed so quickly and that we return home tomorrow, although word on the street is its 23° this weekend in London so you know what, maybe it's not all that bad to be leaving this place after all #Sunchasers 

Saturday 8th April

I'm sat here by the pool on the last day of the trip dictating this first part of the blog and around me I'm surrounded by 34 Marist girls who are just such a fabulous credit to the school and their parents. They are sat hairbraiding, reading, eating ice cream and chatting with friends, some of whom they have made across this week, and they are such good company.  Gone are the anxious faces of the girls who travelled abroad for the first time without their parents on Monday and instead they are replaced with laughter and smiles as they interact with their friends, teachers and coaches 

This week has been a full on sports tour: playing lots and lots of netball and hockey; a fair bit of volleyball and cricket; and a lot of pool ball as well and they've been a real joy to watch, it's been fabulous to see such skill and determination on the court and pitch. Today however has been about lazing by the pool and enjoying each other's company and do you know what they're really good at that as well!  The faces of the girls who were made to leave sim cards at home and not access the Wi-Fi whilst out here have changed. They've sat chatting with their friends interacting with their friends, talking with their friends, playing with their friends and eating with their friends! This tour has very much been about connecting with each other.............

Having arrived home now after a seamless (albeit a bit loud) trip through 2 airports, it's wonderful to wake up to messages from parents informing me of how much fun their girls have had this week! I hasten to point out that the trip was not organised wholly by me but in the main by Mrs Costa, who was astounding as always in her administration! She, quite rightly spent this week with her young daughter, but was very much with us in spirit (and on whatsapp) and was kept fully informed at all points! Praise and thanks must go to her, along with my 5 other colleagues Ms Player, Miss Tooman, Mr Morgan, Nat & JP.

Sports tours, indeed any trips without family, teach girls so much! They learn how to live with their friends, how to accept each other's and their own strengths and weaknesses, how to work alongside new people. They learn that they can't get on with everyone all of the time, and that that's ok! They also learn that sometimes the simple things bring so much joy; a walk on the beach, sitting and reading a good book, and quality time spent with friends doing what you love! 

I hope your girls enjoy the next two weeks of their holiday, be it at home, skiing or indeed for one or two playing even more netball and hockey! The staff are looking forward to putting their feet up and enjoying some family time of their own too ... a few of them are even quietly thinking ahead to future Sports tours and ski trips ... #BestJobEver #MaristMemoryMakers #BestTourEver..???? Quite possibly ... always raising the bar.