Wollongong Wolves junior football players have returned from their two week tour of Europe and the United Kingdom having rubbed shoulders with the world’s best players.
The 34 nine to twelve-year-olds spent the trip training and playing against some of Europe’s best junior players, while also taking in opportunities to witness professional football live and explore the sights of England and Spain.
“The main goals of the trip were to develop the players and for them to see how the clubs, coaches and players at the highest level behave, perform and look after themselves.” Wolves Community Engagement Manager and tour leader Alfredo Esteves said.
The trip was designed to challenge the boys, but Esteves felt they were able to grow throughout the tour.
“We tried our hardest to have a tour where the players were exposed to those challenges and the players learnt, the players enjoyed themselves, and they developed. The biggest outcomes were from a player development perspective, they went there, they learnt, and they had fun while they were learning and they competed hard as well.”
The highlight of the trip for the boys and many of the parents was the opportunity to meet former Brazilian international Roberto Carlos. Other highlights included attending a Manchester City game live and training just metres away from the top Atlético Madrid side.
“Training at Atlético Madrid, we were just 20 metres from the main field where they train. We saw Fernando Torres, Antoine Griezmann, Diego Costa all walking past within metres of us, the players were really excited.” Esteves said
For Esteves, the highlight was the praise the boys received from the opposition teams and players. “The Wolves were congratulated for their initiative and the skill level of players, especially from Atlético Madrid and Manchester City. It was good for us as a club and a region to be praised for the quality of the players, it means that we are doing something right.”
Following the success of the trip, Esteves says that the Wolves will be looking to return to expose a new group of junior players and their parents to what is required to reach the professional level of the sport in Europe.
“The parents never expected this, because some of them never played football, just being part of it was a good eye opener to see how they need to look after their kids as well.”