The Prague Diaries: Tales from the World Indoors

Read more in the Prague Diaries: Week 2!

Wednesday May 18th

We head back up to Radotin by bus to play England in our first practice game.  We were a little shall shocked in the first quarter, England taking 7 - 0 start, however, in the second we pulled it back to bring the score to a 4 goal difference.  Finally score, England 16 - Australia 10.

Overall, good hit out, we were able to gain some intel on the Pom's which will be handy come Saturday, their keeper Matthew Roik plays for the Washington Stealth, very very good keeper, we will need to move him to get it past him.

Did not get back to the hotel until 10.30PM, all a little weary, pretty much straight to bed, ready for our next big game.  Importantly, our physio Stuart McKenzie arrived, he will be a busy little beaver for the next few days.

Tue May 17:  I LOVE turf!

TurfGreat day, training went to a whole new level!  Rob MacDougall (Assistant Coach) Dylan MacDougall and Keith Nyberg arrived on Monday night, meaning for the first time we have the full team together.  Today we headed up Radaton, which involved catching three trains; we did get some funny looks from the public, 30 guys with lacrosse equipment on the train. Radotin has the only purpose built box arena in Czech Republic.  The venue is an astro turf outdoor box with a small surrounding grand stand.  The club house is situated at the end of the box, is more like a pub than a club house, from what i could gather, people in the community pop down for a meal and a drink on regular basis, had great feel to it.

It was luxury to train on turf and get away from the bitumen.  Training went really well, we spent a lot of time doing full court related drills and defensive work.  Dylan McDougal is a great addition to the team, he was also on the 2007 team, however had to sit out due to injury, being a born and bred box player, he will bring a wealth of experience to the offence.

We did go a little over time at practice and as a result kept the five - seven year old kids off the court.  Feeling somewhat bad, many of the guys donated their hats to the kids and took time to have a catch throw.  Interesting to note the Czech Republic start recruiting kids at age 5, as they do in the USA and Canada, not sure why we are not doing this in Australia yet, but maybe we can start.

The fines committee, made up of Jessie Whinnen, Pat McGrath and Frank Nicholas has been handed out more fines than the Victorian Police, so far they have made 1500 Czech.  The fines list is as follows:

  1. Being late
  2. Swearing in uniform
  3. Drinking in uniform
  4. Wearing items of clothing from other Countries
  5. Leaving/losing equipment
  6. Phone ringing during meetings
  7. Not responding to emails
  8. Being on the court without a helmet on

Now there is an appeals system, however, if you lose you appeal, the fine doubles, so far, Keith Nyberg on eight fines is leading the way, followed by Wade Hammond and Ryan Stone.  Not sure if I will have any money left by the end of the trip.

As I write this blog, I have a number of players requesting a mention, such as Rod Mahar.  Many of the players and coaches have commented on the usefulness of the blog, as they do not have to contact family and friends and catch up with them on recent events, also, I just want to add a disclaimer that this is not a reliable source of information for how your boyfriend or husband is going.

Importantly, Jeff Joy's Father, the famous David Joy arrives tomorrow night; we have already started reminiscing about Curlisms, which is a term used to described David Joy's well known game speeches.  Such famous comments as "ding ding goes the tram", "don't dodge via Burwood", "You can touch him, his not in the Union", "What do birds do to statues?  They crap on them, so move your feet", "Money for Jam" and "Get out of the car park with your Girlfriend and help your mates out" (meaning get back to defence).  We have decided to implement a new Curlism for each day, hopefully David will bring some new quotes.

Now, I better go, Rod is trying to steal Jeff Joy's lacrosse stick, Darren Nicholas is bored and Ryan Stone is about to buff his bare feet on the electric shoe buffer machine in the hotel foyer!

Tomorrow we play England in a practice game at Radotin.  Tomorrow we will have a guest blogger to cover the game against England.

P.S  Happy birthday to my big brother Peter, thinking of you on your big day!


Mon May 16:  It's Wado's Birthday!

Wade Hammond

A special day it is, Wade Hammond's birthday, the big 31!  Well, for his birthday, we encouraged him to dress for the occassion at practice, (refer to the picture).  The two practice sessions' we have had have been really interesting, been running new drills, new formations and all with more intensity.

Steve Oosterhof (Sports Medicine Australia) is working with the team. Steve has been strapping GPS' and Heart Rate Monitors on the players, I was the lucky guy yesterday.  What really freaked me out was that in the practice session i covered 7km, never thought you covered that much distance in the Indoor game.  The GPS also measures impact, speed, and number of repeat sprints.  Talking with Steve, he was able to tell me where I was going well through the session, where I started to fatigue and when i was slacking off.  This data will be very very useful for the coaching staff in the coming weeks.

Pretty much, lacrosse is all we do, meeting in the morning, practice in the afternoon, meeting at night and manage injuries in between, oh yeah, and pay fines, I just got hit up by Jessie Whinnen and Pat McGarth for 200 Czech, being late I think.  Occassional we get time to talk about other stuff, Rodney Mahar and myself had a good chat about Urban growth and poor infra structure planning in Melbourne.  Prague has an amazing Public Transport system, given Rod's background in construction, we wondered how Melbourne will address transport in the Urban Growth corridors.

Now to finish, I would like to mention Daniel Mentiplay who wanted a mention on the site, he tell's me he has many follower's back home.


Sun May 16: We train just like Paul Rabil :)

Paul RabilWell, excluding Keith Nyberg and Dylan MacDougall, everyone is present. They roll in tomorrow -- big fines for them!  I am rooming with Jeff Joy. Haven't seen him for years now that he is living in North America. Jeff looks in great shape, and tells me he has been training with the same guy that trains Paul Rabil (you know the guy, he's the one who shoots the ball at 111mph!).  Interesting to note the type of training he has been doing is pretty much the same as what Jeff Williams (fitness coach for Australian Indoor Team) has prescribed for our team.

Had a walk around Prague yesterday with Paul Clough and Cam Mac, they somehow lost me! Then I tracked town Marty Hyde, Jake Egan and Wade Hammond. Not a bad city to get lost in however, amazingly beautiful, feel like I am walking around a scene out of Harry Potter.

Interesting also to catch up again with Jake Egan. He was at Limestone but has been unable to play due to a new NCAA rule that states that if you have played organised sport in another country you are ineligible for NCAA.  Based on the fact that Jake played State League lacrosse he was ruled ineligible. Very disappointing for him, however good for us, as it freed him up for the Australian Team!

We had our first hit-out today, to get there we 25 of us jumped on a tram and walked ten minutes to an outdoor box arena in Malesice.  We trained for three hours in total, and Wade Hammond thought he had his bag stolen! As it turned out he'd only had a 'boys look' the first time, second time he had a girls look and found it. Wade is racking up the fines too!  Training went well, obviously being the first training we all had stick issues which we resolved by the end.  Don't know if it's the climate, but I've found my helmet is now too small or my head is now too big! I have another one coming in tomorrow. More money, but you can't cut corners when it comes to the safety of your head.

Well, that's it for now. Big week ahead including our first practice game Wednesday, can't wait.


Sat May 14: Architecture, family and explaining lacrosse in Castolvice

Training in PragueHad a great day yesterday, headed up to Castolvice with Cam Mac and Wade Hammond to visit my deceased Uncle Ven's nephew.  After catching seven trains and overcoming many language barriers, we arrived in Hradec Kralove, to be greeted by Vendy (Vendy's Grandfather's father is the nephew of Ven).

Vendy is currently in High School (year 11) and was given the day off by her English teacher to work on her English and translate for the family.  We then caught another two trains to Castolovice where we went to the Castolovice. Castolovice was built in 1280, we were given a private tour as Vendy has a part time job there. Cam Mac (being a builder) was able to provide great insight into what building methods were used, amazing to see a place that is so old.

From there we headed to the family home in the country side. which was incredible country.  On arrival we were greeted by the whole family. Given the language barrier, Vendy was very busy translating, but it was fascinating to hear about the Czech Republic, its history and my Uncle Ven's escape in 1950.  From what I could gather, the Russians occupied Czech post World War II. When my Uncle fled he told only his brother that he was going and in fact he didn't contact any of his family again until the late 1970's, over concerns for their safety.

We then headed to Ven's Neices house where we ate more food and watched the Hockey (Czech vs Sweden) it was like watching Australia vs England in the cricket -- Czechs love their ice hockey -- unfortunately they lost.  At one point, Cam McLachlan found himself having a conversation with someone in Czech, problem is Cam does not speak Czech, however, he was just saying "yes" and "got it" as the man attempted to explain hockey.  Trying to explain lacrosse was difficult, i think we will get them tickets and get them out to a game, to hard to explain.

From there we headed back to the train station to head back to Prague, where we were greeted by the whole family to see us off.  It  was such a wonderful experience to get insight into how people in the Czech Republic live day to day, can't beat a family dinner and sitting around sharing stories.

Being Saturday, the whole team is now rolling in, we are a little saddened to here that Gordon Purdie and Damien Cliff have had to pull out -- two great players that we will miss.  Good thing we selected 31 players -- we are now down to 26.  First practice tomorrow. Jerome Kirkwood is off on a mission trying to work out how we actually to get to the venue!

More to come soon.


Fri May 13: Arrival in Prague

Arrival in PragueLong flight, in total 28 hours of travel time.  Great to finally get to Prague, do not officially have to be here until the 14th, but given that in the 2007 World Championship I could  barely walk after the flight, (somehow sitting so long caused osteotisis pubis, eventually I had to have hip surgery to rectify the problem).  I made the decision to come early and ease myself into it.

Wade and myself made the hotel at 3pm, in an attempt to stay awake we went for a run and then went out for dinner with Cam McLachlan, Marty Hyde, Jerome Kirkwood, only to be fined by the transit police for not validating our train tickets! The bloke would not hear any of Wade's pleas for leniency based on the fact we were new to country, 700 hundred Czech later we finally made dinner.

Prague itself is a beautiful city, lots of history, old buildings and nice people -- amazing to see buildings built centuries ago.  We will have Friday and Saturday to check the place out before getting down to lacrosse business.  Our schedule over the next two weeks is very intensive, we have practice everyday, team meetings morning and night and no rest days, in terms of lacrosse it will be a blast.

Today myself, Wade and Cam are off to see relatives of my Uncle Ven.  My uncle (not blood related, married my Auntie) escaped the old Czechoslovakia back in the 1950 during the Russian occupation. I have many fond memories of him, hence I am very excited to visit the town where he grew up.

Importantly, we should have most of the team present by Saturday.


Wed May 11: Leaving on a jet plane

Prague Diaries 01It has been a long 12 months but it is now a reality, we're off to Prague to play in the Indoor World Championships.  This is my third Indoor World Championship, and I honestly believe that this is the best outfit I have seen come out of Australia - an excellent mix of the old and the new.

Really excited that we are playing in Prague, given the last two were in Canada, it is a nice change.

Although we are not a predominantly Indoor Lax Nation, I think we could really give it a nudge and upset a few. With players like Wade Hammond, Jake Egan, Marty Hyde and Caleb Hall to mention a few, we really have some great talent.

Our first practice game is early next week which I hope will give us a clearer idea of where we're at.

That's all for now - I must prepare myself for a midnight flight!


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