U13 RINTCH Traveling Team 2016
“Prince Moulay El Hassan International Tournament”
1st Ever Scandinavian (Norwegian) Team in Africa
From Wednesday 04/05 to Tuesday 10/05, our Academy experienced its first African journey in Rabat Morocco. In the honor of his Highness the Prince Moulay El Hassan, the Moroccan Royal Family invited us to its U13 International Tournament 7th edition.
Traveling 6 hours from Oslo including a stop to Paris, our adventure in Africa was the most exotic since we started the Traveling Team program in 2012 in Brussels Belgium . Once arrived in Casablanca, we were impressed by the security process prior exiting the airport. But, the waiting time was worth with warm welcome.
Eventually, we drove from Casablanca airport to the National Athletic Center located in Sale near Rabat. Still in this exotic décor which made us think being on vacations, we settled in our Headquarter which setting hosted all 12 teams.
The first couple days gave us a chance to adapt to this new environment where we had a couple training sessions and a scrimmage before the tournament.
Also, those 2 days helped us to complete our team with 2 Moroccan players as 3 players dropped out in the last minutes.
Passed the tournament informative and administrative process, we could finally focus on the tournament itself. Our team was together in group composed of Tan Tan (Morocco – Sahara), Fes (Morocco), Union Touargas Sportive (Organizer), Vandoeuvre (France) and HDL Nancy (France).
Our first game versus Nancy started with a complete lack of confidence in front players who were proportionally physically more developed than their technical skills. It’s only in the second that we slowly build up our self-esteem and demonstrated signs of what we were capable of. The game was lost by 10 points, but was did not represent our true potential.
The 2nd and last game of the day versus the organizer Union Touargas Sportive started off the same way as with Nancy. Even though UTS was not a skilled team, their aggressiveness and intensity froze us during the entire first half. Unfortunately, despite a much better 2nd half we lost by 8 to the tournament “winning” team.
Our 3rd game was against Fes and it took place in this second day of the tournament. Due to yesterday’s experience, we could start off more concentrated during the warm up and get into the game directly. Our opponents who probably expected an easy win after scouting us during the 2 games were shocked and nervous all game long. At half time, we were up by 10 points respecting all of our instructions. Though, the fear of winning a competitive game took over us leading to a draw. Fes was celebrating the result as a victory when we could only leave the court with regrets especially when it comes to the ranking to qualify to the next round.
Our 4th game finally brought us a win by 15 points against Tan Tan. The day prior the tournament we played Tan Tan in a scrimmage and won as well. Eventually, our self-esteem level was better than in the 1st two games as the opponent did not look physically superior. From the 4 teams we played, Tan Tan was probably the most interesting as they demonstrated some individual skills despite they lack of size due to their young age. Most of these players were born in 2004 and 2005.
The 5th and last game of the group stage was against Vandoeuvre. Despite our positive last 2 games, we were again terrified by the opponent height. There were some sparkles at times of good intentions at times. In combination with the fatigue and being shorthanded (only 5 players fit to play) this game was the least constructive.
With one win and a draw, we qualified to the next round. Other circumstances played into our favor to move up to the ¼ Finales as Vandoeuvre and HDL Nancy were disqualified. Basically, several complain were filed by some teams after of these 2 French teams used over aged players.
Therefore, shortly after playing Vandoeuvre we played our ¼ Finales against COP Pace from France. Despite being over tired and shorthanded with only 5 players fit to play we led most of the game up to the last 1 minute. The accumulation of turnovers and inertia offense and uncontested shots on the defensive end including two 3 pointers in row led us to lose the game by 6 points. Unfortunately, we did not take credit when it comes to the positive side of our game to believe that we can win competitive games.
Looking at the semi finales and especially the championship game quality, it was obvious there was enough room for a team like us. In fact, without last minute drop out and local players being unfit to play; the tournament management on our part would have surely been to our advantage rather than being a major challenge.
Ultimately, this traveling opportunity made us going to cross culture. On top of enjoying the Moroccan hospitality, meeting foreign teams outside the court was the perfect setting to exchange.
Nevertheless, we learned a great deal on how to cope with unexpected situations which were plenty every step of the way. This cultural journey was foremost a lifetime experience beyond being ranked 5th among the 12 teams in this international tournament in Africa. Most definitely, those 5 players from Norway and the 2 Moroccan players will be enriched in the future as they were able to open their minds, be curious and become better people.