Prospects U14 Tour 2010 – STFX Soccer Academy
Italia Tour – U-14 – March 29 – April 10, 2010
Edmonton Prospects and Juventus at Vinovo
The Organizers Perspective: The Committee
Day 1 and 2
The first day of the tour began with arrival into the Bologna airport and a bus ride into the beautiful Rimini area where the Toreno Pecci would take place. After a very good supper the boys made their way to the beach for a short walk looking to get adjusted to the time zone as quickly as possible.
As the boys got familiar with the area they were put through a morning training session to prepare for the first match of the prestigious tournament. Fortunately the day included the opportunity to organize a trip into Milan to witness a wonderful Champions League match between Inter Milan and the representative from Russia (CSKA Moscow).
With the game a complete sellout (88,000) the coordinator (Saporito) was able to arrange entrance for all the boys and group to view a 1-0 win for the Italian Champions Inter Milan.
Due to the long travel to and from the San Siro (Inter Milan home stadium…4:00am arrival back to the hotel) the boys had a sleep in but were up late morning to prepare for a team training session. This was the first Match day with the opponents representing the country of San Marino located in the Italian region.
The boys played a well fought match but unfortunately were not able to score a goal and lost 1-0.
The coaching staff was pleased with the performance giving the travel the group had endured over the past 48-72hrs.
The boys trained in the morning and prepared for the second match of the tournament.
Without question the worst performance of the tour resulting in an 8-0 loss to Ravenna (Serie C Academy) in Edmonton’s second match.
Having been the second outdoor match of the season the boys were still trying to find a rhythm and adjust to the organization the coaches had prepared.
The long journey and adjustment to time zones as well as meals and sleeping arrangements convinced the coaching staff to prepare differently and give more quiet time for the players to think about the biggest match of the tournament against the powerful Juventus (Serie A) 1996 squad.
Having made a few adjustments to the previous line up the players came out and competed very hard defensively and on the attack. They began to believe they could come out with a result but unfortunately in the last 4 minutes of play the referee missed an offside that went in favor of the home squad giving the Juventus team a berth into the semi final.
Juventus went on to the final and lost 2-0 to a capable Atalanta (Serie A) side. Other teams competing in the tournament included: Cheivo Verona, Brescia and Aldershot.
Past players to compete in tournament include Mario Balotelli (currently with Inter Milan Serie A), Giovinco bros. (Sebastian currently with Juventus first team and brother with the prima Vera side-reserves), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus first team).
After a morning training session and a day off from competition the group enjoyed a very rainy day in San Marino. Finally a couple of hours of shopping for the parent volunteers.
Not too much today went on as it was a traveling day into Turin (8 hours) to complete the second half of the tour.
Today included a 2 hour training session with the Juventus Academy. Both coaches working with the boys were currently employed by the professional team working as head coaches for younger Academy squads. The sessions were well planned and the activities forced the Canadian boys to have a high work rate.
A once in a life time experience saw the boys prepare for an exciting match against Juventus once again but only this time the match would be played at Vinovo. Vinovo is the training head quarters for all Juve teams including Del Piero, Buffon, Giovinco and the first team.
Unfortunately the players were not able to get a glimpse of the superstars because they had just completed training and were not available for a signing session the organizers had prepared.
The match was Edmonton’s best performance getting goals from Aymar Sigue and Francesco Saporito in the last minutes of play to give the Canadian boys a 2-2 draw. You had to be there to feel the moment.
As the tour began to draw to a close, the coaching staff could see the boys beginning to struggle with the time away from home.
The team played its last match of the tour against Torino (Serie B) 1996 boys and was unable score a goal in a 4-0 loss.
The demonstration of football by the Torino boys was too much for the amateur Edmonton squad but the high level of play as well as speed and physical component that the Italian boys displayed was a lesson the Edmonton squad will remember for a long time.
The day started off with a second training session organized by the Juventus organization followed by one of the few shopping days in Central Torino.
Home Sweet Home.
The focus of the trip was football which took priority over all other activities including beach time, shopping, museums and site seeing opportunities.
The coaches and management did their best to prepare the group and represent Canada as best as possible. Included in the preparation was a number of training sessions on the field, player talks in the meeting rooms, detailed game preparations in written form, detailed written game reports at the completion of each game outlining general observations and specific positives and things to improve on.
Included with the reports was a description of individual players and their performance.
Parents Perspective: Claudio Gonzalez
Soccer, soccer + more soccer. The focus identified by coach Frank before our trip was going to be soccer and it truly was.
The boys had an experience of a lifetime, going to some places soccer fanatics worldwide would only dream of going. Like playing and training at Juventus’ soccer school and entering the 1st team’s very exclusive training center and of course, our visit to Milano to a packed San Siro, to experience an Inter Milan game in champion’s league play.
In all a great experience for both my son and I, although the busy schedule, in the second week I believe began to take a toll on the whole group.
Everyone seemed to have that “time to go home” look, especially those on the trip that did not have family accompanying them.
The greatest thing about the trip, all the boys had fun, as truly I believe the essence of soccer, comes from enjoying the sport. As for the adults, everyone got along, and responsibilities were always shared.
Everyone is excited after this trip, but to share with our families and friends, the great times and memories of this wonderful trip.
A lot of work has paid off for the great memories these boys will have for a lifetime.
A Player’s Perspective: Marko Aleksic
As a player, it truly helped me and some of my other teammates because it opened our eyes to a totally new worldview of soccer and showed us what the game is really about. This trip will never be forgotten by most of us because it showed us many special soccer experiences, but also life lessons and the ability to live without the environment we are grown up with. The tour also exposed us to a new and rich culture that taught us new aspects of life.
This Italia Tour was primarily for soccer, and that’s what we mainly gained from this trip. We learned the style of play, the physicality the boys play and the passion and love for the game that is truly pleasant to see. The feedback the coaches gave was excellent as players were given a written report card at the end of each match.
I was very proud of our team and the performance we brought to the Italians, but also showed us that we have much more work to do to get to the level the boys in Italy are. I was greatly impressed on how professional the tournament was organized.
Another very important ability we gained was that we grew closer as a group and gained new bonds and relationships with each other on the field and off. The Juventus academy and facilities were outstanding and truly wish that they had that type of opportunity here in Canada.
To be part of an organization like that would be a dream come true. I would greatly like to thank all of the coaches for making the trip a great success and highly organized.