The under 9s Colts Blues had to put up with me for 6 months of hard work and determination to get us to the tournament of a lifetime.
We headed out to Lisbon and arrived in the baking sun of 30°c. The boys are not used to this heat but managed to stay calm and focused on what they had to do.
Saturday we started by playing against All Stars FC. The boys had a really good game but unfortunately, we had a 1-0 defeat. Second game came along and it was against the Portuguese team EAS Sintra. Again another good game but another 1-0 defeat. The third game of the day the boys now have again been in heat conditions not used to by them but carried on battling. We played our own Stalybridge Celtic Whites and got the win to boost the confidence, 2-0. Last game of the day came up and it was against Stalybridge Celtic Blues, the boys battled but had another defeat of 3-1.
Summary of that day even though the results weren’t for us, the boys could hold their heads up as I was so proud of them all. They worked their socks off and I couldn’t ask for anymore.
That day they were in good spirits and played in the hotel pool, had food and then again went to play football while watching the champions league that night.
Sunday came and it was onto the stadium. We all raised the funds for the Sporting Lisbon trip and what an experience for these boys. They walked out of the tunnel like true professionals.
First game came against the top of the table. Another Portuguese academy club team, Desportivo de Mafra. This match I told the boys just go and have fun and it didn’t matter what that result was as the thing that was most important was to be playing in that stadium. Unfortunately, the boys did suffer a defeat. We then played in the final game of the tournament, the knockout game against our friends the Stalybridge Celtic Whites, we got a win of 3-1 and finished in fifth place overall.
To finalise, the involvement was undoubtedly the best experience I have had as a manager in my three seasons and I am one proud manager of what these boys have achieved over the years. I would also like to thank Dave Lees as assistant manager and to all the parents who got us and the boys to Lisbon.
Words: Sarah Turner
Well done Sarah for your massive effort in getting your boys to Lisbon for the footballing experience of a lifetime.