Where most of other clubs in Christchurch were still having trials for their Academy teams, our players experienced some great trips with a lot of challenging moments.
With a lot of pride, I look back on the month March, where we had an Exchange weekend for our Academy teams (U13 – U17). One of the key points to improve for Christchurch football is the length of the football season and the amount of competitive / challenging games for youth footballers. With offering football all year round now for several years, we have taken the first step towards improving the football development environment in Christchurch.
This Exchange weekend was step 2. We have arranged that our Academy players participate in 3 mini tournaments outside the winter season with their team. Our U13 went to Auckland together with our U17 team. Both teams played highly challenging games against Wellington Phoenix Soccer School, Western Springs and Birkenhead over the weekend. In that same weekend the U14 hosted Wellington Phoenix SS in Christchurch, playing 3 tough games vs the winner of the Auckland league last year. The U15 went up to Wellington and played two games against Waterside Karori and the OLE Academy. This first Exchange weekend in March was full of learning experiences for everyone. We are already looking forward to the two other Exchanges later in the year.
On top of that the U17 flew to Auckland the weekend after and participated with a very young group in the U17’s National tournament. The value of these trips shouldn’t be underestimated. As we have made the tournaments and exchanges part of the CUFC curriculum we expect our players to benefit from this in the future.
Then there is more. Our 6 main Academy coaches went to Barcelona for a two week training course at the TOVO Academy. The collaboration with TOVO will result in a higher quality training program in the near future. It is great to have Slava Meyn to support player and coach development like he does. More on the trip can be found in another article.
Last but not least is our Valencia trip. We are taking a team to Valencia during the Easter Holidays for a truly unique experience. The team will experience two weeks of training in the Valencia youth academy, playing games against local Spanish clubs. The players will visit three games of which includes the Europa league game between Valencia and Villareal.
All together I must say I’m proud of being able to provide these opportunities to our players and coaches. The ultimate goal though is to create the pathway for a youth player to make the next step in their career. Let’s see where this will lead to….