Report from the Norhalne Elite Cup, Denamrk

ALTHOUGH we are in the closed season, the Academy department is always non stop!

With promotion to the Football League and awaiting our EPPP audit date, it is as busy as ever for the Academy and that’s just in the office. Player Recruitment, planning and preparation for many things for throughout the season are in full flow as we look to try and continue to enhance our program.

As always, we have a busy European Tour programme throughout the summer months and during the Whitsun half term a group of U9/10 players took part in the Norhalne Elite Cup, Denmark.

For some of these players it was their first time on tour with us abroad and a whole new experience! A travel day on the Wednesday meant an early flight from Stansted to Billund (Denmark) and then onto our base for the week at Biersted, where we have stayed many times before. 

The Wednesday afternoon was for the team, to train, prepare and relax for what would be a busy 3 days ahead.  

The first of 3 tournament days was the Thursday. Each day the lads had 2 x 50 minute matches in blistering heat (not a regular occurrence in Denmark from previous experience) so the importance of maintaining possession and knowing the right time to be patient and the right time to penetrate were key.
The lads started the tournament really well with a 5-3 victory over Brondby IF and then lost a brilliant end to end game against Vildeburg 6-5. Some of the attacking play was superb but as always we wanted to try and test the boys and get as much out of them as we could so individual challenges were set for the following day! 

Friday’s first game was against the favourites for the tournament AGF, who were a strong and powerful side who moved the ball very efficiently. Although we came out second best, we were actually quite pleased with some of our play but the importance of technical detail was apparent as a mistake in losing possession would more often than not be punished.

The second game that day saw us face a district elite side from Braunton in the South of England and a comfortable victory was good to see, not only in the technical detail that had been discussed from the previous game but to mentally show an excellent attitude to their performance to react in a positive way and in the heat was very difficult!

With both games being in the morning on Friday, after some lunch we headed over to Farup Summerland, which is a theme park with log flumes, inflatables, trampolines and many other things for the lads to enjoy! They had a great time and after 2 days hard work deserved their slush puppies and ice cream! 

The Saturday was the final day of the tournament and would be interesting for the staff, to see after 200 minutes in 2 days in hot temperatures who would perform well on day 3 with another 2 games to play. Team meetings about Rest and Recovery, Eating well, keeping hydrated, Sleeping correctly and maintaining a level of professionalism off the pitch were given to the lads throughout the week so it would be interesting to see who would take it on to give themselves the best opportunity of playing to their maximum in the latter and more difficult stages.

The first game was v Aabybro who sat in and made it difficult for us to break them down and tried to offer a threat on the counter attack. Although the lads found it difficult it was a different challenge for them and one we took as a compliment for the style of football that we had played in the previous two days. The game ended 2-2 and in all fairness although we played ok, we didn’t quite do enough to win the game in terms of chances and were hit with a late goal which again is something to learn from for next time.

Our final game meant that we were playing for 5th – 6th place. We lost the game but was actually our best performance on the tour. Some of our build up play (whether to build up or break fast) was brilliant, some of the goals we scored were superb and relaying that message to the boys was really important. The game ended 4-5 to the opposition and although as always we could have improved some aspects we were really pleased with the game and but for better finishing the lads could and should have finished the tour with a victory.

After the tournament, the boys collected their medals and we headed back to base, where after some free time to enjoy the climbing frames etc we organised an indoor tournament for fun with some other clubs staying close by! The’ Biersted Classic’ was good to see and some interesting celebrations were taking place after the goals! 

A Travel day back to Stansted on the Sunday saw us at the airport with some time to kill and as youngsters do, we found the time to keep ourselves occupied with masses of Lego and table football in the departures lounge at Billund airport!

A very successful tour where lots of the players will take valuable football and life skills away with them. If they can take a few things away from the tour and develop them over the coming season then it was a success!
They can’t wait to go on the next one!

Tom Pell - Academy Lead Foundation Coach 5-11