Bradford City, Birmingham City, Sheffield United and Portsmouth’s pre-season tour to The Netherlands finally got lift-off in earnest this morning after flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport were grounded for large parts of yesterday due to adverse weather conditions.
Organised by League Football Education (LFE), the tour, which lasts until 9 August, will help each club prepare for the new season and aid the development of their youth-team players who will pit their wits against counterparts from top Dutch clubs.
The four clubs will all be based with famous Dutch club sides, with Bradford staying at Roda JC Kerkrade, Birmingham being hosted by PSV Eindhoven, Sheffield United at NAC Breda and Portsmouth located at Vitesse Arnhem.
The English teams will all play at least three matches on the twelve day tour that will include fixtures against host clubs and the likes of Feyenoord and FC Twente.
The initiative, which is fully subsidised by the Leonardo Da Vinci fund for Life Long Learning, will provide plenty of new experiences and a chance for the players to sample a different football culture and to broaden their horizons both personally and professionally.
As well as participating in training sessions with some of the country’s top coaches at state-of-the-art facilities, the lads will also get the opportunity to attend AFC Ajax vs PEC Zwolle (Johan Cruyff shield) and take part in a Q&A session with staff from the Amsterdam club.
Dan Jolley, Projects Manager at LFE, says: “This is the sixth year we’ve been awarded funds for our ‘Leonardo Life Long Learning’ programme – which is fantastic. It recognises that our objectives are strongly aligned with those of the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning programme’s to exchange best practice between European nations, to increase staff expertise and develop skills and it also allows us to support talented young English footballers.
“Over seventy of our apprentices have made the trip and we’ve no doubt that it will benefit them. Culturally it’s the chance for them to sample a different way of life while many of them will experience playing against continental opposition for the first time. Learning about different styles of play, coaching and tactics can only help them become better players.”