Wednesday, 16 November 2011

First Leg of the Journey

The flight to Paris was pretty problem free for our team. We had no issues with wheelchairs being damaged like when we traveled to Montreal. Air Canada took care of us nicely this time around, and the pilots even made an announcement wishing us good luck, which, for me, really struck home with the magnitude of our trip and responsibility to represent our country to the best of our abilities. My most memorable moment of the airport in Paris was all the guys with guns walking around, and I don't mean small handguns! As we traveled from the airport to Vaucresson, where we'd be staying for the initial training portion of our trip, I enjoyed looking out at the exquisite scenery. Similar to how it was in Montreal, I didn't understand anything on the signs and billboards, and there was a lot of graffiti. Mind you, the graffiti wasn't ugly, but in fact, a lot of it was quite artistic in nature.

Now that we had arrived, it was time to get down to business! We had a very busy week of training ahead to get us accustomed to the time change. We started by having a small training session the day we arrived as a way to keep us awake since we arrived early that day Paris time. It was quite apparent that everyone was exhausted, but the session served its purpose and got us through the day! Over the next few days, we had a number of sessions and scrimmages against Team USA. These scrimmages proved to be our greatest learning tool and wake up call for our team. Team USA was definitely a force to be reckoned with as they dominated the flow of the game in every scrimmage, but we were not discouraged! Every scrimmage we tried something new and improved greatly. The whole experience was, in my opinion, the best thing that could have happened to our young, inexperienced team.

On the last day of training, a mini-tournament was held for fun between Team Canada, Team USA, Team Australia, and the division 2 champions of the French league. This gave us an opportunity to see how good the Australian team was, which was very beneficial since they were in the same pool as us for the World Cup. As expected of any national team, the Australian team proved to be quite strong for being such a young team (even younger than us), and we ended up tying them 1-1. We were unsure of what to expect from the French team, but they proved to be a very strong team and ended up beating us. After the mini-tournament, despite everyone being exhausted, we decided to hold a fun game with a few of the French players joining Team Canada and playing against Team USA. With the infusion of the skilled French players, the game was quite exciting! It was very cool to see the players adapt to the slight language barrier since the French players only knew a little English.

With training aside, we did end up taking some time to do some sightseeing! As a team, we went to see the Eiffel Tower, but instead of explaining how amazing it was, I'll just post some pictures.

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