As Barnsley, Hartlepool United and Rotherham United battled it out for the LFE Invitational Cup in central and northern Sweden, their peers from Crystal Palace enjoyed a Swedish campaign of their own while competing in the U17 elite section of the Gothia Cup.
Held in Gothenburg, the tournament is one of the biggest youth football tournaments in the world with over 1600 teams from over 60 nations competing at various age groups and levels.
Following in the footsteps of their first team by travelling abroad for their pre-season preparations, Academy Manager, David Moss and U18 Coach Gary Issot were keen to build camaraderie and team spirit by immersing their Apprentices in an environment where they lived together, trained together and competed as a team together.
While the squad produced some heartening displays that saw them finish second in their group, it wasn’t quite enough to take them through to the final stages of the tournament that was eventually won by Wolverhampton Wanderers who defeated Brazilian side Cruzerio in a showcase final.
The experience of the trip however has not been lost on Academy Manager, Dave Moss;
“During that time we have been able to put lots of things in place. We now have a really good framework of how we want the team to play, with practical work for both attacking and defending also organised.”
The tournament also provided the Eagles youngsters with an excellent opportunity to complete assignments within their NVQ logbook.
With Education & Welfare Officer Dave Muir dovetailing with Stuart Wardle (Head Academy Physio), Gary Issott and Brett Starkey (Performance Analyst), players participated in video review sessions, prehabilitation and activation sessions, completion of lifestyle diaries and were able to access personalised DVD’s featuring fitness testing performance and player self-analysis taken live after each match.
In addition Apprentices took on the role of an analyst while completing match analysis sheets and observations of the players in their position featuring for Brazilian side, Corinthians during the quarter finals, semi-finals and final.
The players identified clear strengths and ‘differences’ to players they regularly play against and watch in the Academy programme.