The Mersey Hot Shots, a Berkeley club soccer team, recently made the journey to Europe to take part in two of the world’s biggest soccer tournaments. The players kept a diary of their travels and experiences. Part 1 of the diary:
What day is it? It is 10:30 pm and it’s still dusk outside! After traveling for 36 hours, we are exhausted. We’re at the Dana Cup in Hjorring, Denmark. We are staying in a classroom in a big brick building surrounded by 4 others. We had our first money exchange and questions about exchange rates.
We were told that we are 1 of 125 teams to arrive just today! Throughout the Dana Cup, all 10,000 players from 820 teams will be eating together; over 4,000 meals per hour are served!
We found a good bakery for breakfast, which I will be revisiting. Other teams have come and the mugging has started. Tonight we had a practice and then went out for dinner. Then we played pool and raced cars. We’re going to shop tomorrow and spend all our money.
After breakfast at a bakery, it was really exciting to find a store that sold fruit. It was pouring rain all day. It would have been nice except that we had to play two, count them, two scrimmages against a Washington, D.C. team and a team from Saudi Arabia. Then we had our first dinner in the Dana Cup cafeteria. There were so many different kids from all around the world all sizing each other up. Awesome. Then came opening ceremonies. This was the most fun I’ve had the whole trip. All the teams lined up and paraded around the town ending at the stadium where each team was announced and “danced” across the stage. Everyone got totally into it and we were dancing with the Ghana team.
Our first day of the Dana Cup. Walked to the cafeteria and had cereal and toast. Our first game of the day was against a Swedish team, which we lost 6-0. Our second game of the day was against a team from Norway, and we lost that one 1-0. Even though we were all tired from our two games, we decided to go to our first disco in Europe. We heard that there was one provided by the Dana Cup. Well, when you think disco, you think maybe a gym transformed or some sort of big building… wrong! It was a huge tent over a muddy field! After the little shock of our first “disco,” we got over it and had a great time.
Happy Birthday Hannah! Today we woke up at 7 a.m. for an early game. We lost both games, but we still are guaranteed another game in the B flight.
We surprised Hannah with a birthday cake at dinner and everyone went out with her after dinner to celebrate her 18th birthday.
YES. Finally we won our first game 1-0 against a Norwegian team. It feels so good to finally win a game. We are all tired. Our bodies ache, our uniforms are filthy. The smell of our classroom is gross. Dirty jerseys, socks and shoes line the stairs. It’s hard to imagine we could be so disgustingly messy. We lost our second game and are out of the Dana Cup. Too bad.
The rest of the week we’ll just soak up the experience of being here. Tomorrow we are going to watch a women’s Nigerian team play and our English (boy)friends play. It’s a mini-World Cup. The rest of our time here will be relaxing and fun, meeting new people from all over the world sharing one common interest… SOCCER!
This was the first day we were able to sleep in. It felt so good to finally get a good night of sleep. We went to the semi-final game for the under-19 girls to see the Nigerian team. They won 3-0. We were so impressed by their level of play that we went to see them in the final game this evening. Everyone who watched them seemed excited and moved by their victory when they won 3-0 again. You could tell how serious they took this tournament and how much they’d prepared themselves for it. Hopefully we were able to learn a few things by watching them to help us in our next tournament!
We went to the laundromat to wash all of our dirty clothes. It took a long time and cost a lot. We skipped eating in the cafeteria and ate lunch in town instead, then most of us went to watch a bunch of the final games. At night, half the team went to go hang out with some Camden boys we met and the other half went to the pool hall. It was a nice last day in Denmark.
We left Denmark, had a short stopover in Norway and now are on our way across the North Sea to England. I’ve never slept on a boat before and it wasn’t bad considering that our cabin, shared with four girls, was the size of my mother’s closet. Another setback was the motion sickness that a few of the girls struggled with. Despite these small things, the team had a fun time on the “color line” ferry. Between the teenage disco and the all-you-can-eat buffet, our trip from Denmark to Newcastle, England was great. The team looks forward to a successful tournament in England.
Pick up next Thursday’s Daily Planet for Part 2 of the Mersey Hot Shots’ European diary.