Hockey Sport Scholar, Jack Rolfe, in Barcelona

Morning run where I got lost and discovered this view!

Just before Christmas I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to fly out to Barcelona to visit Real Club De Polo. Considered one of the most prestigious and exclusive hockey clubs in Europe and maybe even the world, this opportunity was my golden ticket into an elite sporting organisation.

Just the 3 hockey pitches, 60 tennis courts and an Olympic standard polo facility set in 29 acres of land – this place is special. The reason behind my visit was to be part of ‘La Inmaculada’ an International hockey tournament. This offered a real opportunity to battle against Europe’s best clubs across 3 days.

Just one of the three Olympic standard hockey pitches, surrounded by a staggering 60 tennis courts.

What I love about hockey is how differently teams set up to play against each other. A trip highlight was the Spanish passion with speed and desire to score goals vs Russia’s ‘you will not score, you will not pass through us’ philosophy. The Barcelona Tika Tika style vs The Jose Mourinho ‘park the bus approach’, in football terms.

The hockey side of my trip was a wrap, time to get out and explore Barcelona. Lots a late nights, analysing post game videos, chatting all things hockey (Geek!) and plenty of games watched. My trusty old note pad was full!

Germany, Holland and South Africa all ticked off on my hockey hit list, where to next?

It’s a very small world… bumping into old team mates.

As the December sun was at its highest on my last day in Barcelona, I was walking past the ‘Football Factory of the world’ – Barcelona FC Junior academy pitches. Just metres from the over shadowing Nou Camp, I popped into explore and investigate. Every possible wall space covered in giant action shots of FC Barcelona favourites – Iniesta, Busquets and of course that magical man – Lionel Messi. These technically skillful young boys were literally looking up at their idols.

To witness a small section of this world famous football academy was a huge tick in the box!

It was time to fly back to London with a fresh bundle of energy ready to hit 2017 with a bang. The short flight back offered me the chance to reflect on how the last few days will influence my coaching philosophy and approach.

Adios for now,

Jack Rolfe is a Christ Church Sport Scholar in Hockey and a 2nd year BSc Sport Coaching Science student at Canterbury Christ Church University.

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