Hucclecote Netball Links continue to create wonderful opportunities for their Coaches, Umpires, Players and Team Managers with a recent trip to Bahrain demonstrating exactly this. Their link came from an original Hucclecote Player , Liz Davies, who requested coaching support in the Middle East and contacted Gilly Salter to ask if she would be interested in helping. Since the original request, Salter and Hucclecote colleague Wainwright have been out a number of times and last year took a group of U.18 Players who were hosted. This then led to a request from Kyla Milne in Bahrain who had received coaching from Salter & Wainwright during their Dubai trips requesting help with the Bahrain Squads for the Inter Gulf Championships. Both travelled to Bahrain in November, coaching 4 squads in preparation for their Inter Gulf Championships where 20 teams from the Middle East were due to take part. For the Bahrain players, this was an exciting time as they were preparing to host the Championship in March 2008. Milne then asked if Hucclecote could send an invitational team to the tournament to play against the top 8 seeded teams and of course Hucclecote Players accepted. Gilly Salter & Liz Banyard travelled to Bahrain a week ahead of their Hucclecote team mates, again offering coaching to the 4 Bahrain Squads, the Social Team and their 'Mens' team. Training in 80 degrees was hard work but the efforts and enthusiam by all the Bahrain players never ceased to amaze the Coaches
Hucclecotes squad travelled out on Wednesday 12th March with Sue Wainwright & Barb Warburton (Team Manager) and Polly Banyard (Umpire). Netball hit the National Papers in Bahrain every day with the build up to the Championships - a very different experience for all in comparison to the English press! On arrival, Hucclecote were greeted by a National Photographer who wanted the first snap shop of the travelling invitational squad and this photo and editorial was in the media the next day.
A training session to acclimatise took place on Thursday and on Friday before the tournament began. All the squad were hosted and Captain Claire Richards commented that they were treated so well and made to feel very special. The Hucclecote Squad were outstanding role models and played some impressive netball winning each and every game on the Friday. They then played a final match against Abu Dhabi on the Saturday which proved to be close affair with many spectators watching from the stands . Coca Cola sponsored the invitational club with Amer Ahmed finally presenting Hucclecote with their medals to take home. Meanwhile, Bahrain faired well against some tough opposition holding on to their 5th seeded place, and with their B, C & Social Teams all improving up the Inter Gulf Table. The biggest shock came to Dubai Men's team who have for the past 3 years won the Mens Title. This year Bahrain's men team were fired up and with 12 playes turning up at training, stormed the first half and managed to secure victory - they were ecstatic to say the least.
Claire Richards - Captain for Hucclecote said " this was an experience of a lifetime and one that was very special. Hucclecote were made to feel so welcome and could not believe the media hype on arrival through until the end. The Netball played was excellent, and we hope that we brought to the Middle East an exciting Challenge. We made many friends and we hope to be re-invited for next years tournament
Only this week Salter has received an invitation asking for further coaching and selection support in September . This is a link that may well prove to be an on-going one for many years to come.
Hucclecote Invitational Cup Winners: G. Hallbrook, C. Taylor, R.Aston, K. Trueman, H. Faulkner, C. Richards (Capt), C. Johnson, L. Ashmead , Polly Anna Banyard (Umpire), B. Warburton (Team Manager)