WALES U15 GIRLS - 2019 AMAZING TIME IN POLAND

The  Wales U15 Girls squad participated in the 17th International Basketball Tournament in Gniezno, Poland.  On the 4th July 2019, 23 players, 4 coaches and 30 supporters left Wales and headed to Luton airport for departure to Poznan. All the players, coaches and parents had been working hard since January to raise funds to enable the fantastic trip to go ahead.  The players trained extremely hard and formed an extraordinary bond despite coming from 5 different clubs; Pontypridd Panthers, Newport Aces, Cynffig Cougars, Vale Vipers & Cardiff Met Archers. 

After a full days travel, the group finally arrived at their destination, the beautiful city of Gniezno. We were welcomed by the tournament organisers and taken to our accommodation. We were very fortunate to be situated in a hotel right in the heart of the city with the added bonus of being within walking distance of all six of the fantastic arenas where the weekends fixtures would take place.

 

LOOKING GOOD!

Check out how good the players look in their Givova kit, supplied by Eurologo in Bridgend. The squad certainly turned a lot of heads at the airport! We would like to thank the many sponsors who helped support individual players. A special thanks to Cardiff Sports Orthopedics who sponsored the whole squad! With minimal funding available, we simply couldn't afford to participate at this level without the generosity of these local businesses! They really do help make the girls dreams come true!

Meet the Wales U15 Girls

Wales U15 Red

Isabel Bedgood  (Captain) - Pontypridd Panthers

Abbie Morris- (Vice Captain) - Pontypridd Panthers

Isabella Basini-James - Pontypridd Panthers

Lili Griffiths - Pontypridd Panthers

Maisie Lake - Cardiff Met Archers

Talia Tombs - Cardiff Met Archers

Esme Thomson - Cardiff Met Archers

Megan Froley - Cynffig Cougars

Mali Perry - Cynffig Cougars

Carys Roy - Vale Vipers

Maddaliese Tiessen - Vale Vipers

Neva Hughes - Newport Aces

 

Wales U15 White

Candice Luceau - Cardiff Met Archers

Crina Capitana - Cardiff Met Archers

Katie Bamborough - Cardiff Met Archers

Agnes Little - Cardiff Met Archers

Nadia Ghonim - Cardiff Met Archers

India Donovan-Noel - Newport Aces

Olivia Trigg - Newport Aces

Maddie Morgan - Vale Vipers

Lisa Bell-Jones - Vale Vipers

Katie Williams - Pontypridd Panthers

Becky Price - Pontypridd Panthers

 

How the teams performed

WALES U15 WHITE

The Wales White team had their opening game at 9:30am on Friday 5th July. This would be the first of three matches on this day. The team performed extremely well and managed  to pull out a decent performance against a well organised opposition team, CMT Brest . The girls didn't get the win but they certainly gave a good account of themselves with lots of positives to take through to their next game. The second game was against TS Basket SP2 Gniezno. The Welsh girls put up a great fight against the slightly stronger local side. Despite the narrow loss, the girls were already showing improvements in their confidence and team performance. The final game of the day saw the girls continue to improve, they faced MKS Gwardia Wroclaw and  came close to getting their first win during the first 3 quarters. The Polish team had a strong 4th quarter that proved to be too much for the Whites. After the tough games on the first day the Welsh girls were bouncing with excitement, as many of them had just completed their first round of matches in a Welsh vest on foreign soil.

On day two the girls started strongly against ZPZ WJM Zaleze Rzeszow . Their performance across the whole game was arguably the best of their tournament. The final result saw the Polish team come out as victors, but the Welsh girls and coaches were thrilled to bits with their improved performance. The girls second game was against a very big and physical Polish team. The difference in physicality proved too much for the girls but nonetheless they were able to show unbelievable grit and determination, never backing down from the many challenging situations they faced throughout the game. The coaches were delighted with the girls performance and the days games ended with improvements being made by all players as individuals and as a collective team.

On day three the whites played their final game of the tournament where they faced 6th place UL Huskies from the other group. The game was a real battle with the lead being taken by both teams on numerous occasions throughout. The Irish eventually came out on top but the Welsh players, coaches and supporters were delighted  to end the tournament with such a strong performance.  Once again the girls proved that the Welsh never back down and they had done their country proud! The Wales White team had a fantastic tournament experience which led to massive gains in confidence and strong bonds being formed between all the girls. Well done Wales White!

After such fantastic team performances, the coaches decided to host a team awards ceremony. Each player was awarded the following:

Wales U15 Red Awards

Isabel Bedgood - Pontypridd Panthers - Isabel received the Gun award for her outstanding shooting performance. She led the teams in points scored and was our biggest offensive threat from beyond the 3pt line.

Abbi Morris - Pontypridd Panthers - Abbi received the Best Play Sequence award for her amazing 3 pointer followed by a steal and a successful drive to the basket. A truly awesome sequence of plays!

Isabella Basini-James -Pontypridd Panthers - Isabella received the MVP award for outstanding defense and being a consistent offensive threat. She was a key player throughout the whole tournament.

Lilli Grifiths - Ponypridd Panthers - Lili received the Best Defensive award for showing true determination in all defensive situations. She has mastered the help side and will never back down in a 50/50 situation.

Maisie Lake - Cardiff Met Archers - Maisie received the Best Driver award for her outstanding attacking of the basket. She was able to finish under pressure and was deadly in fast break situations.

Talia Tombs - Cardiff Met Archers - Talia received the Most Improved award for impressing coach Kojo with her understanding of timing of cutting to the basket and for showing that she is capable of being assertive on the court.

Esme Thomson - Cardiff Met Archers - Esme received the Most Inquisitive award for always asking the right questions at the right time. She is always keen to learn more about the game in order to keep improving her performance.

Megan Froley - Cynffig Cougars - Megan received the Coaches Player award for making excellent contributions every time she came off the bench. She always knew her role and was a real threat at both ends of the court.

Mali Perry - Cynffig Cougars - Mali received the Most Pleasant award for being happy all of the time. She didn't complain about anything and was uplifting to all her teammates and the coaches throughout the duration of the weekend.

Carys Roy - Vale Vipers - Carys received the Fly Swatter award for accumulating a ridiculous amount of blocks. She did an excellent job of protecting the basket in every sigle game.

Maddaliese Tiessen - Vale Vipers - Maddaliese  received the Players Player  award for displaying some incredible moments of vision and decision making. She is a top point guard in the making. 

Neva Hughes - Neva received the Mrs Motivator award for being vocal on the court and raising the spirits of her teammates. She always displayed a positive attitude which is a real asset to any team.

Wales U15 White Awards

Candice Luceau - Cardiff Met Archers - Candice received the Best Defender award for proving she can mark anyone. This was her first international tournament and she went from strength to strength each game.

Crina Capitana - Cardiff Met Archers - Crina received the Glove award for mastering the art of the bullet type American Football pass. Her powerful arm proved a dangerous weapon during fast break opportunities.

Katie Bamborough - Cardiff Met Archers - Kate received Air Patrol award for her numerous rebounds and blocked shots. She made a real difference at both ends of the court with her  dominance in the air.

Agnes Little - Cardiff Met Archers - Agnes received the Coaches Player award for her performances and attitude throughout the tournament. She was a constant threat for the opposition and always played with a smile on her face.

Nadia Ghonim - Cardiff Met Archers - Nadia received the  Hustle for proving that her size is not an issue when faced with any opposition. Her confidence on the court trebled throughout the tournament which was really great to see. 

India Donovan-Noel - Newport Aces - India received the Bulldozer award for tearing through the opposition defense with her powerful drives to the basket . She was always confident in her ability to out muscle her opponents.

Olivia Trigg - Newport Aces - Olivia received the Most Pleasant award for being an awesome, positive role model to the rest of the team. She approached each game with a smile and was always there to raise the spirits of her teammates and coaches.

Maddie Morgan - Vale Vipers - Maddie also received the Most Pleasant award  for being happy all of the time. It was clear to see that she really enjoyed her first international tournament. She didn't complain about anything and was uplifting to all her teammates and the coaches throughout the duration of the weekend.

Lisa Bell-Jones - Vale Vipers - Lisa received the Mrs Motivator award for being the voice of the team. She was loud at the right times and always inspired her teammates to never back down.

Katie Williams - Pontypridd Panthers - Kate received the MVP & Players Player awards  She displayed the perfect attitude at all times and was instrumental to the team on both ends of the court. She had a truly great tournament.

Becky Price - Pontypridd Panthers - Becky received the War Wounds award for her ability to bounce back from injuries. Despite picking up a few knocks, she was quick to shake them off and get on with the game . A true Welsh warrior.

 

BEST SUPPORTERS! OGGY! OGGY! OGGY! 

Nobody can argue that the Welsh had the best supporters, which to be fair is usually the case wherever they travel! Everywhere we go, people always ask us, who we are, and where we come from!

Parents, grandparents, siblings, you name it, they were there cheering the girls on and bringing the atmosphere to each and every arena.

They walked the city with us, ate drank and got merry in the many restaurants surrounding the central square, and even participated in the many renditions of 'Oh Fluffy Sheep'.

It could be described as the perfect holiday, where you get to watch your children play Basketball, maximise socialising opportunities, safe in the knowledge that the girls are being looked after by the hardworking coaches. 

We wouldn't have it any other way!!!!!

It Really Was a Trip to Remember

The Basketball was the purpose of the trip, but everyone experienced so much more than just balling. The teams covered a large area of Gniezno on foot and were able to take in some of the cities beautiful sights. They discovered the meaning behind the numerous rabbit statues to be seen. Evenings were spent in the central square, meeting players from all over Europe and playing pickup games of Basketball on the outdoor courts. The Mayor of Gneizno had even organised a pretty impressive concert celebration with the towns impressive Cathedral  as the back drop . The girls even found time a for swim in the local swimming baths - Jacuzzi included.  Above all, the bonds formed between everyone really made the trip a special one. So much laughter and so many  smiles - It truly was a trip to remember!

FINAL WORDS FROM THE HEAD COACH

This trip has been truly inspiring. The journey we have been on as a Basketball family is one that I will always remember.  I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved in the Wales U15 Girls squad trip to Gniezno. All the players have been fantastic both on and off the court. They are all a credit to their clubs and families and the way in which they represented their country has reminded me why I love coaching so much.

The coaching staff, Chloe Richards, Beth Jones & Sara Jorgensen have worked extremely hard since taking over the squad and have been the perfect assistants on this trip. Each of them providing their individual skills and traits, that when combined, make sure all bases are covered in terms of providing the best possible experience for players and parents.

A special thanks to Sarah Perry for being such a great Team Manager in the build up to the tournament, I'm so glad you were able to come and enjoy the fruits of your labor. More special thanks to the fund raising queen Tracy Morris who has worked tirelessly  to ensure that the squad is well looked after on the financial side. Hot dogs galore, teas & coffees, raffles, bag packing and transport all sorted!  And more special thanks to kit lady Wendy Lake, who made sure everyone was looking the part. We have been blessed to have such wonderful women taking care of us. 

To all parents who have supported their children and the coaches, thanks for making the season an enjoyable one. We love the drums, the chants and the pictures from Steve and Tony. You definitely won best supporters in Poland!

I would also like to thank the tournament organsiers in Gniezno for putting on such a great competition. From booking our place, to fantastic venues, excellent social media updates, your provision has been second to none. I would highly recommend this tournament!

Each and every person that has been involved this season has contributed to giving the girls opportunities and memories that they will remember forever. In my opinion, that's objective achieved. I wish all the players the very best as they progress next year, wherever you are playing, whatever age or level you participate at, I hope you remember your experiences from trip and use them to keep improving! 

Coach Kojo

WALES U15 RED

The Wales Red team had two games on the first day of the tournament, Friday 5th July. The first of the games took place in an incredible venue which even had leather armchairs for the teams benches! Our opponents were Polish side UKS Lider Swarzedz. The Welsh girls put in an outstanding performance for their first game after a hard days travel, and narrowly lost out to the local team 28 points to 30.  The second game was against Polish team MKS Tecza Leszno. This game was arguably the most exciting and intense game of our tournament.  Both sets of fans created an amazing atmosphere with drums, horns and endless cheering. The game went down to the wire and the Welsh girls were so unlucky to lose by just 3 points. The girls were in such high spirits following the game and it was clear to see just how much they enjoyed playing in front of  the adoring fans. It truly was a game to remember

There were 3 games for the Welsh girls on day 2 of the tournament. The first two games were against strong opposition from the larger  cities of Poland. Despite battling hard the girls lost both games 18-41 and 24-43 respectively. Still the girls were enjoying their experience and were looking forward to returning to the 'leather chair' arena for their final game of the day. Our opponents were a team from much closer to home, the UL Huskies form Limerick. The game was played in  great spirit as both teams had made new friends with each other the night before! The Wales Red team were too strong for the Irish and were so pleased to get their first win of the tournament with a score of  23 - 16. The coaches were extremely proud of how the players were able to finish the day on a high, after coming up against some very strong competition in previous games. The players had learnt so much in just two days of Basketball and were a credit to their coaches, supporters and their country.

The final day of the tournament saw the Wales Red team be drawn against the 5th place team from the other group, TS Basket SP2 Gniezno. The Red team were in great form and outplayed the locals with some excellent shooting and tough team defense. The final result was 56 - 9, a great way to end the tournament for Welsh girls. The games provided 2 defeats, 2 narrow misses and 2 wins, which was an excellent overall performace form the Wales Red team. It was great to see the girls building their confidence and forming strong relationships as the games progressed. Well done to Wales Red!