Chesterfield, Middlesbrough and Tranmere Rovers jetted over to the Netherlands this morning with their apprentice players on a pre-season tour organised by League Football Education.
Just weeks after England’s Under 21s and Under 20 teams endured a disappointing time at major tournaments on the European mainland – Chesterfield, Middlesbrough and Tranmere are hoping that their visit, which lasts until 10 August, will be more successful; helping them to prepare for the new season and aiding the development of their youth-team players who will pit their wits against top Dutch clubs.
The three Football League clubs will all be based at Eredivisie outfits, with Chesterfield staying at NEC Nijmegen, Middlesbrough being hosted by NAC Breda and Tranmere based close to the German border at VVV-Venlo. The English teams will all play at least three matches on the twelve day tour that will include fixtures against the likes of AFC Ajax, Feyenoord, Fortuna Sittard, FC Twente and Vitesse Arnhem.
The initiative, which is fully subsidised by the Leonardo Da Vinci fund for Life Long Learning, will provide plenty of opportunities 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 meet and question Ajax staff which includes former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar
Dan Jolley, Project Manager at LFE, says: “This is the fifth year we’ve been awarded funds for our ‘Leonardo Life Long Learning’ programme – which is great news. 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.
“Fifty-five of our apprentices will be heading out to the Netherlands 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 on the pitch 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.”