Year 10 Boys Finish 5th in the Country
After successfully winning the Dorset & South-West Championships, the Purbeck U15 team competed at nationals on 15th June at the Derby Arena. The boys had been training exceptionally hard for months and really were fully prepared for the challenge. With thanks to Andrew Ward at Reward IT, the boys were financially covered for the entirety of the trip.
The nationals was split into two groups of four teams, unlike previous years where the competition had been a round-robin with every team playing each other. Unfortunately we were quick to learn that our side of the draw was significantly more difficult than the other, but all in all you have to beat the best teams to win any competition. The first game was against a very strong, physical and athletic team, Chadwell Heath School from London. Purbeck started strongly and maintained the lead for the first half until unforeseen circumstances struck. Lewis Cartridge, (the best line player in the competition) went down clutching his lower back after a cheap shot from an opposition player. Purbeck were severely rocked by this and end up narrowly losing 11-10.
After re-motivating the boys, we then played East Bergholt School from Suffolk in which Purbeck made an extremely slow start, clearly showing the negative mental influence of the first game. With Lewis Cartridge on the bench still injured Sam Bowen stepped up to play out of position for the good of the team and was exceptional. With 5 minutes to go, Purbeck were leading 5-4 so to secure the win Lewis Cartridge decided to come back on for the good of the team. Kyle Cavendish then turned into an assist machine and the combination of him, Lewis and Jamie Foskett resulted in the demolition of an 8-4 finishing score.
The boys then had a two hour gap before their final group stage game. Due to the results going in Purbecks favour in relation to a superior goal difference, Purbeck could still qualify for the semi-finals by finishing second in their group. Aylesbury Grammar were extremely well drilled though with multiple regional and England based players. I have never been so proud of a Purbeck team as they played their hearts out to quite simply be beaten by the best team in England and eventually fully deserved national champions. Narrowly the boys lost 11-7, highly commendable and being the closest team to them throughout the whole tournament. A special mention to Kian Salina, who arguably was matched up with the best player in the tournament, scoring twice down his wing with epic dummies and defending so well that the boy was substituted half way through. An excellent individual moral victory.
The boys were absolutely distraught though and broke down in tears. Everything they had worked for they felt had come to nothing, whereas in reality to even get to nationals is an incredible achievement. With the 5th & 6th playoff game looming, the emphasis changed from seriousness to enjoyment against Fairfax School, Birmingham. Mr Tarbard told the boys that sport is about fun and enjoyment so go out and put on a show. The next 20 minutes was 100% the best moment in my teaching career. Every single boy was fully involved and scoring using some of the most amazing trick and skills moves I have ever seen including: kempa’s, ally oops, 360 spins and shots between the legs. After ringing the changes everyone got on the scoresheet bar Lewis Reeves who came out of goal with the whole team desperate to get him to score but it wasn’t to be. Special mention to Ollie Peters and Tommy O’Connell both who have been key team players without a huge amount of game time in this wonderful Handball journey to nationals. My favourite bit was watching Ollie score two goals and Tommy a hat-trick with everyone chanting his name! This resulted in us being the 5th best team in the country.
I have been hugely privileged to work with these exceptional young men from year 7 to present totally 1720 hours! To see them compete at such a high level, giving their all and forming life long bonds and experiences that they will cherish for the rest of their lives is invaluable. They epitomise and have embedded the values of sport that I firmly believe in and I look forward to continue working with the majority of them right to the top of Sixth Form and beyond.
A special thank you to Mrs Davies for assisting with the coaching and organising the logistics and Mr Mason for mucking in wherever needed.
Team (Goals): Lewis Reeves (GK), Lewis Cartridge (6), Kyle Cavendish (3), Sam Bowen (2), Jamie Foskett (12), Kian Salina (4), George Maytum (2), Tommy O’Connell (3), Ollie Peters (2), Mr Tarbard (one yellow card).