AN adventurous group of Clayesmore Senior hockey players have returned from an action packed tour of India where they brushed up on their playing skills and absorbed the cultural delights of the vibrant country.

Boys’ hockey is a major sport at Clayesmore and Richard Miller, head of boys’ games, believes the visit to a country with a long history of success in the sport will inspire the boys to excel at hockey.

The trip included five thrilling fixtures against local teams, but was not strictly sporty – the Clayesmore team also visited the Laksh Foundation, a sustainable farm and school nestling in hills near Delhi.

The eco-friendly organisation relies solely on donations and has been the focus of a number of fundraising events at Clayesmore, including a curry evening, sponsored indoor cycle ride and candy floss selling.

The foundation was set up in 2008 and allows children to access education in rural locations, as well as being a restored eco-system that uses traditional techniques such as hand-picking crops and churning milk.

The tour members presented the school with a motorbike bought with money raised by the Clayesmore charity committee.

Cultural highlights of the trip included tours of New Delhi, Agra Fort, the stunning Taj Mahal, the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri and the Maharaja’s City Palace, as well as a chance to reflect at the site of Mathatma Gandhi’s assassination.

The boys also tried out snake charming and witnessed mass fish feeding at the picturesque Water Palace.

The hockey team experienced some pre-match nerves when they discovered their first game would be watched by more than 700 pupils from the school they were competing against. They lost the match, but fought back the next day to win 5-3.

Another highlight was a visit to the National Hockey Stadium for the semi-final of the Junior World Cup, and their own hockey playing adventures concluded at the Shivaji Stadium where they achieved an impressive 6-1 victory.