As we’ve previously reported on this blog, last weekend we had three lads from the club representing Wadokai England in Portugal. The event was a combined elite training camp with some of the best Wadokai coaches in Europe, and a special Sakagami International Championships. The event was made that bit more special because it was a memorial event for Francisco Saalfeld, who was very close to the Portuguese squad.
Rachel and Harvey have put together a short diary of the weekend:
We arrived in the early hours of Friday morning at Lisbon airport to be met by our host Frederico Silva, head of the Portuguese team. Quite a privilege to be met by the top man! Frederico took us to our apartments for a quick sleep before an early start.
Training and the competition took part in the Amadora-Brandoa Sport Center. The group was split into 3, and then rotated between various groups. Sensei Sakagami focused on traditional Wado Kata and Kihon Kumite, Sensei Derek Desmond on Kumite strategy and tactics, and Sensei Frederico Silva on high performance Kumite.
Each meal time, we were taken to a restaurant for a buffet with some delicious traditional Portuguese food. Our hosts were fantastic recommending food and drink to try. We had some delicious meals while we were there, and I can personally recommend the green wine. The desserts were divine! Sergio especially was good at ensuring we all tried new dishes, and translated full menus to us.
After lunch on Friday we were treat to a sightseeing tour. We looked around a beautiful monastery in the city, and saw some amazing architecture, old and new. We were taken to what could be described as the Betty’s of Lisbon. On the outside it appeared to be a small café, but inside was room after room after room of tables and chairs, all full. Their speciality, was a delicious custard tart dessert with cinnamon on the top, fresh from the oven. We may have eaten one or two during the course of the trip, The boys might be nearer double figures….
The boys had more excellent training in the early evening, before dinner.
Saturday morning the boys attended the course again, with the same rotation basis. After lunch we were taken to Sintra, and the Palace of Pena. We took a hairy bus ride up a very steep and windy hill to the Palace. Watching bikes and various vehicles go up was like something off wacky races. The Palace was well worth a visit. Not only was the building itself spectacular, the views from the top were breath taking. There was a walled walk fairly near the top, not for the light hearted. I think David still bears the nail marks in his arm from Graham!
Sunday was competition day. The boys did fantastic. Joe just missed out on medals for the individual Kata, Harvey won gold, and Daniel Silver. An all Hartlepool Wadokai Final. The team Kumite was good, with Harvey, Joe and Daniel along with Michael Rankine winning a silver medal. All did well, but must mention Daniel who had a very good fight…for someone who doesn’t fight!
The competition was the Sakagami Cup, in memory of Francisco Saalfeld. It was quite an emotional event with Francisco’s family in attendance and some meaningful speeches. We felt honoured to have been involved in such an event. It was clear how much it meant to our hosts, so it truly felt like a privilege to be there. It might not have been the biggest competition the boys have entered, but it was the most meaningful.
In the evening we were taken to a local tavern with our hosts and some of their family members. What a night!!!! It was one of the best nights we all had with our hosts, and locals watching Portugal win the football. The atmosphere was unreal. As we left the tavern, the streets of Lisbon were full with everyone celebrating. The noise from car horns was deafening. We joined in the celebrations as Frederico sounded the minibus horn all the way back.
Monday we took a trip to the beach before lunch in a lovely place on the marina. We watched the Portuguese football team fly over us with a plane either side. The perfect end to the perfect weekend had to be driving back to the airport we saw the Portuguese football team on the open topped buses followed by a ridiculous number of motorbikes and cars with flags.
Overall we couldn’t have had a better time. The boys have experienced some very high quality training, along with priceless memories that will last a lifetime. We cannot thank our hosts enough for the time and effort they made to make us feel welcome and ensure we had a lovely time. We saw a beautiful city but met some amazing people. Frederico, an amazing coach who has improved the Portuguese team so much but also has a heart of gold, Sergio, Nuno, and Faustino along with the Portuguese team and their families. All who made sure our time in their beautiful city was fantastic.