Our U15 boys/mixed Water Polo team reached this years Championship National Final, which is the first time in history. The final was originally to be played last Saturday 3rd March in London but due to the horrendous weather was postponed (only at the last minute). It was then rescheduled for this Thursday 8th March at Northampton which only give us 3 days to organise ourselves but we did it! We were all set to go Thursday morning with plenty of time to get to Northampton until we woke up to the snow!
So not only had we been snowed off once for this Final but now the snow was trying to stop us a second time! We knew the final this time would be happening as the other schools had not been hit with any snow. Determined not to let the weather gods stop this U15 SBSJ Water Polo team from being part of this special and historic day, the students and myself attempted to make our way to school. For myself it was a short and disastrous attempt as I had to abandon my car. At this point in the morning I was getting phone calls by the minute hoping we could still try attempt to get there, however as you can all appreciate at 7:30-8am it wasn't looking hopeful.
All looked lost and I was sat in my abandoned car coming to terms with the fact that we weren't going to be able to the get to the Final. The organisers were gutted when I rung them and were trying to give every suggestion possible which also included delaying the tournament an hour for us. I was about to call it and give up when a much needed inspirational phone call from Mr Utting which gave me the push I needed to see if it would be possible and safe to get us there.
The adventure begun and we turned our focus to Bradford Interchange where the team fought to get themselves there for the train. Some managed to get a lift, some a bus, one got a train in, one walked and someone even did a bit of running (I wont mention names but I know it was a very tough run). Time was ticking and slowly but surly we all got there just in time. At this point the team and myself were feeling a roller-coaster of emotions but we were on our way and on our 1st train of 4 which was going to get us there for 2pm meaning we would have been an hour late. Keeping with the theme of the day we had a hiccup as there was a delay in our 2nd train, meaning we missed our next connection. However just like in a game when we are down we regrouped and went again. We found another train which took us a different route than originally planned and had to run to the other end of the station but we got there, however this meant we were now going to be two hours late. The tournament had begun but everyone there was very understanding and once all the other schools played their initial games they were willing to wait until we arrived. We pulled into Northampton station where one of the other schools had their minibus waiting to take us to the tournament.
So from beginning our effort from early this morning we finally arrived and was greeted with plenty of hugs, handshakes and a round of applause for the effort we had put in to get there. With the delays it meant we had to play our games back to back which obviously wasn't ideal but we all agreed we were just happy that we were finally there.
SBSJ 1 - 3 Trinity School, Croydon
SBSJ 2 - 7 Dulwich College
SBSJ 1 - 5 Haberdasher's Aske's for Boys
Unfortunately the results didn't go our way but under the circumstances I couldn't ask for any more out of the team. We were naturally disappointed as we felt we could have done better but the entire team played their hearts out and give it everything they had. This team made history just for reaching the final and are now ranked 6th in the country!
I just want to finish off by saying that this day has reminded me just exactly why I do what I do. This group of young people have always made me proud but today was the icing on the cake! Against all the odds and when we could have easily thrown in the towel, these guys said no, not happening. A 12 hour round trip which included god knows how many lifts from parents, 8 trains, 2 taxis, 1 minibus and a ridiculous amount of running through stations we got all the way to the final and back. Even though it was not the most ideal situation and the results were not what we hoped for, this experience will stay with us all forever and in many years to come we will be able to look back and think 'wow, we did that.'
A big thank you to the guys behind the scenes in Russell Firth and Sarah Ison, you've been amazing as always. Also to Mr J Utting who has given me fantastic and much needed support throughout all this! To the guys at the tournament itself, who's patience and understanding was truly admirable. Finally to the most important people of all, the students and parents of the team, without you none of this would have been possible. Your attitude and dedication is unquestionable and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for what you achieved. You all made my job 10x easier and even though it was tough I think in the end we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As I have said on many occasions you really do make me proud!
Well done to all involved. You are true champions and you can achieve anything if you have the right mental attitude!
Darwin King, Sam Chewins, Harvey Weston-Beyer, Jacob Slator, Adam Zdolyny, Tom Doyle, Yenukua Anarwat, Konstantinos Odimume, Jastin Barrientos, Sara Steinberg, Niamh Dolan-Baines, Ikenna Obasi.
Report by Mr Matthew Wright