Coach Gordon Kaye says it was “a bit of a no brainer” to sign his Lochend U12 side up for this Easter’s UK International Cup.
The squad – along with Lochend’s U10 and U11 sides – will be part of a 100-team international tournament this April at English Football’s state-of-the-art St George’s Park complex.
And Kaye believes the opportunity for his experienced team to get a taste of one of the world’s top footballing facilities is too good to miss:
“We’re quite tournament happy,” he said. “We’ve done a few before and they’ve all gone really well.
“It’s great for the kids and it’s great for the parents to get together, so when we got the email [about the tournament] and saw the Youtube video we thought we were on to an absolute winner.
“To go to a place like St. George’s Park, which is one of the best training facilities in the world, is an amazing opportunity for the boys and I’m sure the vast majority of them really appreciate that.”
The Lochend U10’s, U11’s and U12’s will all be heading down in the same coach, which will save the club some money, but that hasn’t stopped everyone pulling together to raise funds for the trip.
Kaye explained: “We have a little bit of money left over from the last fundraising – not a huge amount, just enough to get us started – so that’s handy.
“We did some bag packing in late December and we had a small get-together where we did a little bit of fundraising - we’ll probably have some sort of charity dinner-like affair as well.
“Last time we had a penalty shoot-out competition and we managed to get Leigh Griffiths to come down and help us out which was tremendous.
“He’s quite pally with one of our former coaches so we invited him down and obviously the kids loved that.”
And Kaye is confident that all the effort the club has put in over the years to be able to go to tournaments like this will all be worth it, and that the team will end up stronger if they continue to make the most of opportunities like this Easter’s.
He said: “We’ve started to hear the boys talk about it in the changing room, they’re getting really excited about it.
“I mean, for them any sort of tournament is something they’ll jump at – especially if it means going away and staying together.
“So, it’s something that’s really keeping them going and it’s great advertising for the club; it’s a way of convincing people to stay as well as getting new people in because we’re seen to do these tournaments and the kids have access to these kinds of opportunities.”
One of the factors that drew Lochend to the tournament was the chance to test themselves against teams from around the world, and Kaye is confident the boys will come back better players:
“They’ll be playing with different kids which helps because even though you can get friendlies with different opposition up here it’s quite hard,” he said. “You generally end up playing the same sort of teams.
“But now we’ll be playing against kids from completely different areas and I hope they’ll take a lot from that.
“It’ll be a good experience for them generally to understand what it takes to go away to a tournament and play football in a different area so that’ll be good, and hopefully they’ll be able to expand their footballing horizons and enjoy the whole experience.”
The UK International Cup takes place at St. George’s Park from Friday April 19 to Sunday April 21. Keep an eye on the YFS website and social media channels for more coverage.