Our trip began with an early start as we travelled to Bristol Airport, where we flew with Dutch airline KLM to Amsterdam and fortunately the journey went smoothly.
Soon after landing we met Vince, our Dutch representative who works for Academy Trips, and then we got on a coach to Arnhem to go to the Hotel Papendal, which will be our base during our stay here.
Once we had arrived, we went for our first training session and we were immediately impressed by the quality of the grass pitches. We are scheduled for sessions with Sparta Rotterdam coaches during the fortnight, so that’ll be a great experience to see how they approach things differently to our usual regime.
Later on that evening, we decided to take in some of the local culture by hiring bikes – a tradition in the Netherlands – for the week ahead and went on a cycle ride around the complex. We were able to check out the amazing facilities available here, including Vitesse Arnhem’s training ground.
Our first full day in the Netherlands involved two training sessions as we all tried to acclimatise ourselves to our new surroundings. In the evening, we decided to make the most of the facilities available to us by using the sauna, steam room and relaxation area. We could certainly get used to doing this every day!
Afterwards, we had a fantastic opportunity to watch Vitesse first-team train at their training ground. It was great to see them in action and gave us a taste of the style of football they play and how they train compared to us. We made sure to analyse the Dutch style closely as we prepare for our future training sessions and fixtures against Dutch sides later in the trip.
We then had a chance to really bond and relax as a group the following day as we took part in foot golf, located on the complex. Although it did get quite competitive, all the lads really enjoyed it and activities like that will definitely bring us closer as a team ahead of the new season.
After lunch, we had our first language session of the trip, where we learned basic Dutch phrases and various information about their culture. Some of us are certainly better than others, but we have all stated our intentions to make a real effort to use the phrases in and around the hotel.
We then had our first look around the gym which, like the rest of the complex, provided some fantastic facilities. It was a great opportunity for us to build on our strength and prepare for the training session ahead.
It has been very beneficial to spend this time with everyone and the group feels a lot closer already. We were able to played a few games which was again great for team bonding which we don’t often get chance to do back at home.
So far, everything has been great. The staff have been very welcoming and happy to help with any of our needs. We are very much looking forward to the rest of the week as we are training with Dutch coaches, which will be a new experience for most if not all of our squad, in preparation for our upcoming fixtures.