Yesterday we had our first practice at Club Ciudad Buenos Aires (CCBA) not too far from our hotel. Everyone woke up feeling refreshed from a good night´s sleep and ready to play some hockey. The club is very large. It houses not only field hockey but, facilities for swimming, tennis and golf. There is also a club house restaurant where we ate lunch after our practice.
Practice was great! It was so much fun. We met our Argentine coach Pablo. He has a lot of experience with the field hockey circuit in Argentina. He has played for the Argentine Men´s National team in both the Barcelona (´92) and Atlanta (´96) Olympics. He is currently the head coach of the Men´s U21 National Team. He was so sweet, energetic and patient. He spoke very broken English but, our Spanish speaking teammates helped to translate.
We worked on our creativity with the ball. We practiced a variety of ways to lift the ball, fake a pass on the move and dribble in the air. We played a fun four vs. four continuous game. Everyone was really excited and into the drill.
After practice we ate lunch at the club and hopped on the bus for a quick trip down the road to the Secretario de Deportes. This is one of the national facilities for government sponsored teams. We watched Pablo run practice with the U21 National Men´s team. It was incredibly intense. These boys were sick. We all “ooood” and “awwwed” at their incredible skills. I´m sure they didn´t mind pretty and smart Haverford girls as their spectators.
Afterwards we traveled to our first game. It was at another club about 30 minutes outside the city. Everyone was excited to finally play against competition. But, these girls were well beyond competition. They were the Argentine U18 Women´s National team. Several Olympic hopefuls suited up for them. Having never really played a full game together since arriving for preseason, this was definitely a learning experience. We had a lot of fun and afterwards we gave the Argentine girls our old Haverford jerseys and patches purchased from the College bookstore. We hugged and kissed the girls as is customary and took a team photo with them.
We boarded the bus back to the city. For dinner we went around the corner to a local chain pizza restaurant.
This morning we left for practice at nine. We met Pablo at CCBA and had an hour and a half morning clinic and practice. Pablo worked with our tentative offensive corner unit. We practiced our drag pushes out to the top of the circle. We had a stopper and a hitter practicing their corner skills as well. The rest of the team worked with Coach on possession, passing and communication in several drills over on another of the fabulous turf fields at CCBA. We all joined up towards the end to work on some more drills.
After practice we left Buenos Aires and traveled to a ranchero to ride horses with authentic guachos (cowboys). While waiting in line to ride the horses we befriended a high school boys rugby team visiting from Scotland. We tried to play rugby with them but we were cut short by the necessity of lunch. We ate a traditional Argentine meal which included potato salad, cabbage salad and a variety of sausages as well as hunks of steak and chicken. We ate in a large dining hall on the ranch with a wide variety of other tour groups from all over the world including Australia and Canada. We watched a brief tango performance and boarded the bus to our game vs. a U18 team from CCBA.
Our game went more smoothly than the day before but, we still were trying to work out some of the kinks in our playing. The girls we played were talented but, we managed to score one goal on them from Zoe Lloyd and maintained possession for a significant portion of the game. Afterwards we presented them with our old uniforms and patches. They also swapped some of their jerseys for Haverford t-shirts and sweatshirts which many of our girls were excited about!
After the game, we headed back to the hotel and went out to dinner at Matias Restaurant and Irish Pub down the street from the Recoleta cemetary we visited the day before.
Tomorrow, on our day off, we are taking a day trip to Colonia, Uruguay! Look for a brief post on our excursion out of the country!