Middlesbrough, Tranmere Rovers and Chesterfield have successfully secured a place on LFE’s Pre-Season Tour of the Netherlands next summer.
The trio fought off intense competition from fourteen other Football League clubs and won their place after a rigorous application and selection process.
The tour, which will help the clubs in their preparations for the 2013-14 season, will see the youngsters go head to head against some top Dutch clubs, which for many will be their first experience of playing continental opposition.
“It’s great for the lads,” said Chesterfield’s Head of Coach Development Mark Jules.
“When I was a player I went on tours to Europe pretty much every year and you’re able to learn from it and bring things back that help your game.”
“For a lot of our apprentices this will be one of the highlights of the two years they spend with us. I don’t think any will have played abroad before and it’s just a fantastic opportunity for them.”
The initiative, which is fully subsidised by the Leonardo Da Vinci fund for Life Long Learning, has been in operation for four years through LFE.
In that time 13 English clubs have travelled to mainland Europe and taken on opposition from Sweden, the Netherlands and Germany. And while the chance to sample a different football culture is one attraction, Tranmere’s Head of Youth, Shaun Garnett believes the trip offers much more.
“It’s not just about football,” said Garnett. “The lads get the chance to go out and spend a couple of weeks away from home in a new environment and sample a different culture and lifestyle.”
“It’s a massive tool for us in terms of using this trip to help them develop as people.”
The trip which usually lasts around a fortnight will see all three English clubs based at top Eriedivise sides. And while personal development is on the agenda for Garnett, he also admits that both he and his players are relishing the chance to take on some of Europe’s elite players while having world class training facilities at their disposal every day.
“I’ve been back at Tranmere for eight years and we haven’t been on tour once so the prospect of going out there next summer is really exciting,” added Garnett.
“The facilities, the different style of football and tactics – we just can’t wait.”