Written by Gary Ireland
May 16-28, 2007
On May 28th Carine and I returned from a wonderful trip 'Down Under" with the staff and players of the NCAA National women’s soccer champions North Carolina. Many of you have been asking how the trip went and how it all worked out, so here is a short read for you all!
Carine and I designed the itinerary as tour managers: where to go (i.e what country- i suggested they not travel back to the UK and instead take a 24 hour trip - from east coast- 'Down Under"…why not?); the opposition; when they played and what we did on a day to day basis so we were kept busy all day, every day but joined in all the fun. We showed the group all the sites, from finding destinations to finding lost and missing passports and even missing people (not really, just a few wrong turns!). Being an "Aussie" or “Brit”, whichever you want to call me, I attended HS in N.Z and knowing the lay of the land really helped as well as the fact that some former teammates and coaching friends are now coaching the National and Olympic/U20's in Australia which made the logistics of running the trip so much easier. We also had old friends to visit so this trip was a whole lot of fun as it gave us a chance to catch up with them too.
Accompanying me on the trip was of course Carine and former USA women’s national team coach & Union FC staff coach Lorrie Fair who is currently assistant volunteer at North Carolina. Head coach Anson Dorrance and wife M’Liss also came on tour, along with team manager Tom Sanders. My former teammate and World Soccer staff coach Chris Ducar who is in charge of recruiting as an assistant coach at UNC along with his wife Tracy Ducar, former USA national team player and a current USA U16 National Team coach, also came on the trip. Wendy Palladino (formerly Gebauer) of the USA national team and ESPN college network was also on the trip along with her son Zach and husband, Bill.
After running the North Carolina women's coaching clinic in Palo Alto, Carine and I led the North Carolina Women’s Soccer team onto a fantastic dinner mainly sponsored by Cindie and Phil White and partially by Union FC at Nola’s restaurant in downtown Palo Alto and then directly to San Francisco airport where we caught our Qantas Airlines flight to Australia that same evening. It was a hurried stopover in Palo Alto, as the team arrived at SFO approx 2 p.m and was on the field at 3 pm to work with 130 players from 12 different clubs. With some pretty nifty maneuvering we were able to make the 14 hour non-stop flight to Sydney without any hiccups. (the lost soccer ball equipment bag from Carolina showed up on the plane!).
Our first stop was Australia for 7 nights where we played the National Women’s Team of Australia in Canberra on May 20, (1-3 loss) followed by a game against the Queensland Academy of Sport (combination of Australian National team, Olympic team and U/20 National team players) on May 23 in Brisbane (1-2 loss). This was followed by a 3 day trip to New Zealand where the girls played the New Zealand women’s national team in Auckland on May 27 (1-0 win). We returned to the USA on May 28..
There was a whole lot more to tell you about the trip but the links below should give you some idea….never a dull moment; lots of kangaroo sightings, holding koala’s, swimming in the beautiful (almost) winter ocean, riding with dolphins in the Bay of Islands and Emu encounters in the car park…oh, yeah!...i almost forgot..lots of soccer juggling and playing on the beach, hotel tennis court and parks. The two most important games were:
Gary/Anson defeated (Carine say's tied!) Chris/Carine & Gary/Lorrie defeated Carine/Casey Nogueira in 2 v 2’s…I had to throw that in there! Typically we were almost late departing because we had to get in the 2 v 2 game before doing a rush packing job…the trip wouldn’t be complete without finishing with some soccer!
Some interesting links of the trip……
UNC Website (read about the tour on the UNC Website)
Australian Institute of Sport