Luke Graham’s Blog: Ice bath agony and the excitement of ‘Boot Camp’

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By Luke GrahamGRAHAM~1

Part 1 of Luke’s Blog from the World University Games – it’s been all-action at the Chester ‘boot’ camp.

The World University Games journey is beckoning and for the 20 of us selected for the GB Men’s football squad, the preparation has already started.

I arrived at the fantastic Carden Park Hotel in Chester, met by my team mates and our extensive range of staff.

We are paired up with ‘roomies’ and I’m with gorgeous George (George Nash), the youngest player in the squad at 20. Unfortunately, he has to put up with the oldest player at 27 – although I’m sure he will agree I look younger!

In our rooms are suitcases with Great Britain clothes and goodies. That’s where the reality sinks in and the honour we will have in representing Team GB.

Every day starts at 8am with a hydration test. The ‘wee in the pot’ concept is always a good thing. It’s important we take the right fluids in, especially with the amount of training we are doing.

The colour always tells the story. In fact I know on quite a few occasions during my career, where players have put water in the pot too. This dilutes the colour weaker so the hydration levels look better! I would love to name them!

With a gruelling schedule of six games in 13 days out in Russia, our weights were checked along with any little niggles.

Training twice a day is enjoyable. Everyone in the squad is comfortable on the ball as we intend to play adventurous football.

The GB Men's squad at their training base in Chester.

The GB Men’s squad at their training base in Chester.

One goal put in the stanchion, by Nicky Platt, would have had any manager in the world drooling. We all stopped still and applauded his wonder strike.

Penalties have been practised every day in the likely event of a draw in the final stages of the competition. I will always put myself forward although so far I’ll be at the back of the queue, the crossbar has been hit a few too many times!

A players committee has been put in place to look after the discipline of the squad. Captain is Kieran ‘the wolverine’ Murphy and vice-captain is Jack ‘Romeo’ Winter.

To elaborate, Kieran is the hairiest player I’ve ever showered with and Jack could charm his way onto any women’s Pandora bracelet!

They are returning players from the last games two years ago and I’ve been put in the mix to assist them. I’ve always been an obliging disciplinarian.

A ‘points system’ is now in place for any misdemeanours that occur along with an ‘idiot of the day’ award.

With free time being limited, we staged a ‘Ryder Cup’ golf event at the hotel’s prestigious crazy golf course.

The 'Ryder Cup' golf squad...

The ‘Ryder Cup’ golf squad…

The Rest of the World team beat England 3-2 over 12 holes! The losers had to serve up breakfast in the morning and I had a big breakfast, put it that way!

It’s important we have a good team spirit especially as we will be spending three weeks together in close quarters.

The two friendly matches against Welsh Premier League teams Prestatyn and TNS were ideal, winning 4-0 and 1-0.

A ‘highlight’ of the training camp have been the dreaded ‘ice baths’. Every evening for six minutes, watching the grimaces on some of the faces has been hilarious. I’m pretty sure a lot of Mums have had a phone call asking to be rescued!

I’m so glad I made myself available for selection and indeed got the call. It’s going to be a wonderful experience. Next stop Moscow!

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