The Community Trust's programme notes from Saturday
These programme notes were written by Head of the Hatters Community Trust, Kevin Thoburn, for the Notts County edition of Talk Of The Town.
YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
PRE-ACADEMY U9 TO U16S TOUR TO AMSTERDAM 2017
Our Pre-Academy squads travelled out to Amsterdam again this Easter and while our first day results were better than last year with a magnificent six teams out of ten qualifying for the main day two Holland Cup competitions, ultimately, we were not able to match the fantastic achievement of last year in reaching four finals with all six teams being knocked out by the thinnest of margins on day two qualifying groups.
Ironically, the four teams who failed to make the main Holland Cup competition on day one ended up as winners in three of the four Challenge Cups – so more silverware for the trophy cabinet – an impressive achievement by any standard when bearing in mind our boys all played up a whole year group in European age groups.
Our two U16 squads thundered their way through the first day U17 groups with 100 per cent records and impressive performances, and then fate drew them together in the first game of day two which meant only one team could progress.
The game drew a sizeable crowd from competing teams who came to watch ‘defending champions’ and although a hardfought 0-0 draw meant honours finished even, ultimately this result cost both teams the opportunity to qualify.
We also entered two U15 teams in the U16 section, one from the pre-academy and one from our centre of excellence, and while our centre of excellence (Cofex) boys exceeded expectations with two wins out of three, our U15 pre-academy squad never got going and found themselves out of the main competition fairly quickly. Day two saw a reversal of fortunes as the pre-academy boys ruthlessly dismissed all opposition before them winning 6-0 in the final of the Challenge Cup against Scottish side FC Salveson.
The Cofex boys found day two tough, but a fantastic effort nevertheless in making the final stages.
Let’s hope next year our retained pre-academy boys decide to turn up on day one as while winning the Challenge Cup was the least we expected, it did show they had ‘qualified’ for the wrong competition!
On to the U14s, who probably had the unluckiest draw out of everyone coming up against feeder club to Ajax, FC Amsterdam. They quickly ran up a 4-0 margin as our boys struggled to get to grips with older and more athletic boys.
(Pictured: The U14s celebrate their success on the second day of the tournament)
Credit though to the boys and the coach, who recovered by winning the second half 1-0 and while not enough to alter the result, a fantastic effort. The defeat cost them a place in the main competition, but day two saw the boys win the third and fourth place play-off in the Challenge Cup against Dutch opposition vvONA.
Our U13 squad probably had the most impressive tournament after winning all of their qualifying games on day one, even though they didn’t win any silverware.
Day two’s first game against European U14 boys from Amsterdam club FC Waterwijk saw a defeat effectively ending progression early doors, but the boys recovered finishing with two victories – the last coming from 2-0 down to win 4-2 against Danish side FS Galten.
Both our U14 and U13 squads deserve great credit as these age groups present the most physical challenge in playing up a year on full size pitches, and both squads showed the capacity to compete physically and come back from set-backs.
The U12 boys were the surprise package in that they won their first game on day one in style, but then fell to two ‘avoidable’ defeats which meant progression to the Challenge Cup and, much like the U15 boys, they fairly easily progressed through to the final against Danish opposition FC Hattig-Torsted, eventually winning 3-2 and picking up the cup.
(Pictured: The U12s celebrate their cup win!)
Our U11s had a great first day with a 100 per cent record and looked impressive into day two, starting with two more victories to clock up five straight wins. It was only a late 2-1 defeat to English academy set-up VCD that knocked the boys out in a very tight game against effectively a Spurs U12 pre-academy squad. Great tournament from the boys and a group that shows a lot of promise.
Our U10s clocked up the biggest score of all of our teams in the tournament, winning the first game 10-0 and that result was enough in itself to see the boys through to the main Holland Cup competition.
A tough day two set of fixtures saw two defeats against Belgium side AS Chelles and FC Fredericksun BoldKlub from Denmark to end their dreams of lifting the Holland Cup.
The U9’s gained some revenge beating FC Fredericksun BoldKlub in the final of the Challenge Cup 1-0.
(The U9s lift the Challenge Cup!)
It was a great reward for the youngest team on tour who had a difficult first day, but pulled it together on day two to win more silverware for the club.
Overall, a very successful weekend saw four trophies return with our ten touring squads and a great experience for all of our boys who are looking to achieve a full academy place with the club.