What a whirlwind!! Heading into my 3rd week in this beautiful country and I have finally found some time to breath. After the Commonwealth Games I travelled to Barcelona and San Sebastian on my way up to Holland. I got into Rotterdam on Friday night and was driven to see my new home in Vught. I live with a beautiful couple that spoils me rotten. Their house is stunning and the nicest place I have ever been in, lucky girl! I went straight to meet the girls after one of their practice games and after trying to learn 20 Dutch names gave up pretty quickly.

The following night I went out to watch the football with my lovely hosts. It was an unbelievable atmosphere and I can see why it is the number one sport here, but to be completely unbiased.. Hockey is still better!

There was no settling in quietly as the next day I had my first hit out with the team, playing Amsterdam and going down 2-1.

It was good to have my first week of training with the girls. I also did my first of many clinics and was so impressed how they are run and set up here. The kids sleep at the hockey center in tents for the week and are taught different skills everyday, as well as watching some international players have a hit out. We had four more practice games over the course of two weeks as well as our team weekend.

Our team weekend involved an initiation for the new kids, including me, where the team dressed us up. I was a hippie… there was also a hobo, a gangsta, and a hooker… I feel I got off lightly! We were put to the test with a quiz about out teammates and asked to give some insight about ourselves. We played twister long into the night before getting up early for a group challenges that included making the tallest human tower, fitting the whole group in a tree, making up a chant, and plenty more! This was all on our way to the beach where we completed our final task of the weekend. It was all set up by the girls and brought back childhood memories sleeping in the scout cabin together on our air mattresses.

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Although everyone here speaks English quite well all the hockey and conversation is still in Dutch unless directly at me. I am starting to understand more and more but am getting lessons with fellow Aussie Russell Ford to speed the understanding up a little.

Apart from playing on the weekend I also opened one of the hockey clubs that involved some penalty stokes against their keeper and taking photos with all the juniors. I am opening another field in two weeks and will be attending clinics and doing presentations when the opportunities present themselves. I love the passion people have for hockey over here and the quality of this competition.

The staff and girls at MOP have done so much to welcome me and make the transition as smooth as possible. Thus far I have loved the training and am so excited for the season to start!

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Anna Flanagan
World hockey’s Young Player of the Year for 2012, Anna Flanagan is one of a group of young Australian athletes rapidly rising to the top together. Known as ‘Flanno’ or ‘Boy’ amongst teammates and friends, Flanagan reached a century of international appearances three years after making her debut. With a passion for the media industry and a keen blogger, Flanagan has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and has spent time both in front of the camera and behind the scenes with broadcasters in Perth in recent years. Now studying for a law degree to add to her journalism qualification, she also has a certificate three and four in fitness. Despite playing with her trademark yellow ribbon in her hair, Flanagan describes herself as a bit of a tomboy. Introduced to hockey through family, the youngster from Canberra initially refused to play because she was made to wear a skirt. At age eight she won that particular battle as her club allowed her to play in leggings; possibly one the smartest decisions made in the history of Australian hockey as Flanagan’s love affair with hockey quickly took off.

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