DJC Travel to Luxembourg to Compete!
Well it has finally happened!
Since we founded DJC we have talked at length about getting our players abroad to compete in other countries. Most former high level players and coaches will always say that to be a champion it is an essential part of your development.
That being said, Drake Bristol Head Coach, Gavin, has been very vocal about travelling abroad since he joined us last year, Drake Coach, Gary, has also mentioned it on several occasions.
With that in mind, we arranged for a small team from Drake along with Full Fat Grappling and Team Bath to travel to Luxembourg for a tournament.
The main aim for myself was to use the experience as a fact finding mission, to see how we will operate these trips logistically in the future with a larger amount of players. Though the trip would be a group effort from volunteers; Gavin took the lead and spent a lot of time organising and for that we are very grateful to him.
So for me it was a 6am departure from Plymouth, picking up Will, Bogdan and Tyla, then a 3 and a half hour journey to Gatwick, a park up and then into the airport.
We then met up with the Drake Bristol gang and Team Bath and Full Fat Grappling, after which, it was then onto the plane (though we were concerned it might be cancelled) and a mere 50 minutes later we were in Luxembourg.
We quickly realised that the language there is in reality, French, German and English and i had to adapt using my basic knowledge of all three!
We all went for a meal and then to bed to await the competition the next day.
The organisers had kindly put on transport, so we all arrived and then went through the process of a covid test (remember those) and weigh in, there isn't much wiggle room abroad for weight so it proved a nervous time for everyone.
Though slightly delayed, Izzy got us started and what a start! A fabulous throw in her first contest got us off the mark early and a win on the board. Izzy would go on to take a bronze in the U12's and a Bronze in the under 15's.
Next up we had Ash, who was a bundle of energy, which can sometimes almost overload her judo but she did well having some great contests and coming away with a silver medal, great result.
Charlie then took her turn and produced some fantastic Judo. She now has a perfect physique for her weight group - tall, with a long reach, which give problems to the other girls trying to work her out. She missed out in only one contest and took the bronze in a very competitive group and typical for Charlie, she got very annoyed and told anyone who would listen she would make up for it in the U21's.
Poor William, due to how the continental system works, had to fight in the U18's and in a new weight group of U55's in his first contest against a boy representing Scotland, the fight was only about 15 seconds in when it went to the ground and Will was strangled. He tapped the Scottish boy, who released immediately but it was obviously just a fraction too late and he went momentarily unconscious, only for a few seconds and was fine afterwards but protocol says he could not fight again, meaning he was finished for the day, however, fighting abroad with a union jack next to your name on a giant screen is an experience very few players will ever get.
Next up was Bogdan in the U18's, giving away a lot of experience and age, he still for me was one of the best fighters, however, i think the pressure to not only perform but to dominate got to him and he himself would say he made some silly mistakes, which we encouraged him to identify and rectify, he like Charlie, said he would make it up in the U21's.
Lastly we had Tyla, who despite weighing in at 70.3kgs had to fight in the O70's category, with some girls being as much as 120kgs, she put in a fine performance and fought to instruction from a pre-determined plan, she took a very credible 4th place.
We then had the U21's and Charlie was completely dominant, winning all her contests and digging so deep on some of them the whole crowd was cheering - Gold!!!!
Bogdan then had to follow that and did! Defeating a 6ft 6 player! and taking silver in the process!
From our club friends at Full Fat Grappling, Hannah Tucker gained valuable experience and despite being 2 years younger than her opponents put in a brave performance, which will no doubt help develop her.
Her brother Chuck put together one of the runs of the day, in a huge group he found himself wazari down and being held down, but escaped, got the score back and took the win. He was then involved in some amazing contests, getting all the way to the final where he took a silver medal, a pleasure to watch, to quote Darth Sidious ''we will watch your career with great interest''.
Brad, who remains one of the most well travelled and most popular players on the circuit had the competition of his life, producing some amazing Judo and taking gold in a final that seemed like its should have belonged on TV. it was the last of the day and our whole team cheered him on.
Jack, from Team Bath, was dominant in the U15's and took Gold very handily. He then fought in the U18's and gained valuable experience, much more to come from him I'm sure.
After this we all headed back to our hotel and had some food and a drink and perhaps a game of cards or two and Chuck got to pose with ''his dream car''
Everyone was very tired and the following day we were going to attempt to participate in the camp. Some of our more experienced players excelled at this and put in some gutsy performances; others were really too exhausted but obviously know what to expect for next time.
A mad dash to the airport (not really we got there with 4 hours to spare) and after paying 9 Euro for a Starbucks we were back to Gatwick, onto the road and I got home at about 1am!
I must mention that despite being from different clubs there was a wonderful atmosphere between the players, coaches
A big thankyou to Gavin and Jess from Drake; Charlie and Steve from Team Bath; Trevor, Claire and Matt from Full Fat Grappling.
I am more determined than ever following this trip to be able to offer any player, who is part of our club, the opportunity to maximize their own potential and future abroad trips are now very much part of that agenda.