Well, where do I start?…I arrived back from Dubai yesterday with the lads, and words can’t really describe the 12 days experience that each one of us had.
Being a Scholar is hard work, especially balancing football and education but there are also some fantastic opportunities that present themselves. We had been invited to take part in a tournament in the United Arab Emirates, an opportunity that the Club felt we could not turn down.
The 12 days included six games (a mix of UAE and foreign teams) in heat hitting the 40’s at one stage, which as you could imagine was very difficult for all of us. After the first two games though, the lads adapted well, even though we still found it hard to get through the full 80 minutes of each and every game!
We didn’t start the tournament well, losing the first game 2-1 to a local team called Al Ahly. The lads knew we had to win the next game to have a chance of qualifying, and in the next game our opposition would be FC Lens of France, which we expected to be a tough one.
However, we all brushed ourselves down from the first game and went out and did what we had been doing back home in the league of late and came out 4-0 winners on the night! That put everyone in a better spirit around the hotel, which, by the way, I must say was out of this world – 5* and absolutely incredible!
Throughout the group games we played one day and rested the next, which was great for us because it helped us recover and get ready for the next game. The days off consisted of some head tennis and some good stretching to get the previous games out of our legs. Throughout the trip we carried out a lot of pool sessions which helped everyone a lot I think, and of course ice-baths were on the cards which saw a few people struggling!
Our third group game was another must win game if we were going to qualify and we did the job again, coming out 3-1 winners on the night which put us in a good position going into our last game of the group stages, safe in the knowledge that if we won it would put us top of the group and through to the semi-finals.
We knew that our last game was very important and we came out 6-1 winners in an emphatic win which led us straight into the semi’s against a local side called Al Shabab the next day. Therefore, we had less time to recover and that somewhat showed because we lost in the semi-final. We didn’t perform as well as we had been doing in the group stages and we were all very disappointed.
Losing the semi-final meant we played the next day in a 3rd and 4th play-off against Lens, a team whose players we had got to know well both on and off the pitch, having played them once and been residing in the same hotel.
All the lads were very tired from playing five games in the space of eight days and we lost the game 3-2 in extra time, but everyone gave their all and everything that they had left in the tank.
We finished off the trip with a day at the water park, some of the rides there wer unreal. Everyone enjoyed it and the day finished off the experience nicely.
We travelled back to England in the early hours and arrived back at Wast Hills in the afternoon of the next day, it was a long, long journey. We were back into training the next day and will be getting ready for our first league game since being back against Arsenal on Saturday which will be a very tough test.
I will inform you with the results of our next two games because we have a lot of fixtures coming up with four games in two weeks.