During the Easter holidays, Lewis United Youth 2002’s travelled to Barcelona to participate in the Football Cup Barcelona tournament. On their return, coach Daniel Middler caught up with Youth Football Scotland to share his side’s experience.
Before heading out to Barcelona, Middler hoped that playing against top quality teams from around the world would be a great challenge and experience for Lewis United, who currently sit top of the ADJFA A-league. He said, “There should be a high standard of football teams playing football on the ground which should benefit my team.”
This certainly proved to be the case, with Lewis United scoring 16 goals without conceding any in their first five matches of the weekend.
They kicked off the tournament with a 10-0 win over Spanish side, Racing CF Bonavista, before winning 2-0 against English side, Soccer Elite FA. This was followed up by a 1-0 win against Aisling Annacotty FC, of the Republic of Ireland, in the third round.
On the second day of the tournament, Lewis United continued their winning form in the fourth round against RCS Brainois, of Belgium, with a 1-0 win. Their fifth round match was a semi-final, against Indonesian side Garuda Jaya, where they won 2-0 to progress to the final. However, they fell just short against RUW Ciney, with the Belgian side winning 2-0.
Middler was very proud of his team’s performance throughout the tournament. He said, “With three boys coming off injured, the team couldn’t get over the final hurdle. They did brilliant to get to the final, scoring 16 goals and conceding none.”
Not only were the team as a whole successful but there was also individual success for midfielder, Harry Ingram, who won top scorer at the competition, having netted seven goals in Lewis’ six games.
Middler could not fault the event, and said, “The event was amazing and brilliantly run. There were buses laid on after the morning game back to the resort where we had dinner and some chill out time, and then back onto the bus to the event.
"We played two games in the afternoon with an hour’s rest, in between, where the kids went into the shops, which sold football boots, strips, food and drink located in the area. Then, after that, we went back onto the bus to the resort for supper and then free time at night.”
The team had the chance to visit Porta Ventura theme park and Middler said the visit to the attraction was still good despite having to be cut short due to the poor weather.
However, the highlight of the trip for many of the players, coaches and parents was going to the Barcelona game, against Atletico Madrid, in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final at the Nou Camp, which saw Barcelona come back from being 1-0 down, at half-time, to take a 2-1 win. Middler said, “It was brilliant and the kids all deserved a treat!” On a personal note, he added, “It was a great experience to share with my boy, Daniel, and my younger boy, Owen, who plays for Lewis United 2007’s, and was a mascot for all of our games on the trip.”
Middler was full of nothing but praise for his players. He said, “The kids behaviour and attitude was fantastic - no trouble whatsoever. At the resort, there were a number of sports facilities, which the kids all took advantage of, which was good to see.”
Lewis also arranged a friendly game for the day after the cup competition against Futbol Base L’Abroc, based just outside Barcelona, which saw the Scottish side claim a 4-1 win, continuing to further their football development and experience.
There was some disappointment for Lewis United as injured player, Bradley Wilson, was unable to make the trip. Bradley recently underwent hip surgery and is still recovering, and both the coaches and players missed his presence. Middler said, “Unfortunately Bradley Wilson couldn’t make it with his injury, which me and the kids felt devastated about. We wish him all the best in his recovery and hope he’s back playing for Lewis United sooner rather than later.”
He added, “I just hope all the kids and parents who travelled will speak about this trip for a long time as I’m sure they all had the time of their lives. A few parents and kids have all commented saying that they loved it, and thanked me, Steve [Gerrard- a fellow coach of Lewis United Youth 2002’s] and his wife, Dawn Gerrard, who organised so much for us.”