Grove Life – Being Back at The GroveRead More
A Week on Tour
During the second week of the 2023 Easter holidays, I had the pleasure of leading the Junior Football Tour to Spain. Here is a short blog of our week.
After a week of the holidays, it was time to meet at school for departure. 43 students and 5 staff met at school before travelling to Liverpool airport for a flight to Barcelona. After getting checked in and through security, it was time for breakfast…Mr Dobson opting for the full English!
After a two-hour flight, we landed in Barcelona. A smooth transfer through the airport and we boarded the coach to spend the afternoon exploring what the city had to offer. The students split up into groups and spent a few hours sightseeing. Mr Dobson and Mr Bradburne decided to follow suit, taking in the many amazing sights including the Sagrada and the Park Guell. Mr Steene, Mr Randhawa and I decided to take a different approach, opting for a famous Spanish Nutella espresso and a gelato, after stumbling across a jazz concert off Las Ramblas.
After a few hours in the city, we travelled to the Camp Nou for a stadium tour. This was a particular highlight for a lot of the boys, but not for Marcos who is an avid Real Madrid fan! As Barcelona were playing that night, we were unable to go into the changing rooms and the tunnel, but the views from the stands were incredible and it was also great to see the museum that housed their 5 Champions League trophies. After this, we travelled to our hotel and got checked in before having a fantastic meal in the hotel.
Having met at school at 3am on Monday, an 8am breakfast in the hotel was well-received. After fuelling up for the day, we travelled to Port Aventura Theme Park which is famed for being one of Europe’s best theme parks. Despite there being a range of exciting rollercoasters, the staff decided to play it safe and only go on the log flumes! After lunch, it was time for the first fixtures on tour. The first team to play on Spanish soil got on the coach, accompanied by Mr Randhawa and I, to travel to CF Cunit. A tense and exciting game ensued, with Cunit eventually coming out on top. However, it was a great performance that gave confidence for the remainder of the tour. Mr Dobson’s side then played against a quality El Morell side; with the game in the balance at 3 all at half-time. Unfortunately, their class shone as they ran away with the win in the second half, however, our boys were able to take positives from a strong first half. The final game was the first game to be played under lights; a really exciting opportunity for the team. Despite their best efforts, St Jaume were too strong, however, the team played some great football and Mr Steene and Bradburne were impressed with what they saw. As the final team arrived back to the hotel, it was lovely to see the camaraderie amongst the tourists as they welcomed each other back and exchanged stories about their respective games.
After the first set of games the night before, we were delighted to see our breakfast time was at 9am. Whilst most of the touring party saw this as a chance to have a lie in, Mr Randhawa and I decided to go for a short run along the beach, making the most of the beautiful weather and stunning views. After breakfast, the squad had their first ‘Masterclass’ coaching session at FC Riudoms. This was a fantastic location, and the students really enjoyed the opportunity to work on some team shape and tactical understanding before their matches later in the evening. The afternoon was free, which allowed the boys to have some time in the town to do some shopping and explore the local area, enjoying the Spanish sun and simply spending some time with their friends. Later in the evening, the three teams were merged into two larger squads for fixtures against FC Torredembarra and La Selva FC. We were again given the opportunity to play under lights at two lovely venues and can only praise the hospitality of our Spanish opposition. Mr Steene and Mr Bradburne’s side played well at times, however, the larger squad meant they lacked a bit of cohesion, whereas Mr Dobson’s side played out a fantastic game, eventually finishing in a 2-2 draw. In an end-to-end game with lots of chances, it was a penalty from Marcos late in the game that salvaged a deserved draw for our boys. This result was excellent for the group as it showed that we could compete with the technically gifted Spanish teams. After this, we travelled back to the hotel to watch the Champions League quarter finals…unfortunately Chelsea couldn’t perform as well as our U15s had earlier in the evening!
Our final full day tour on was a busy one which again started with a training session at the spectacular FC Ruidoms. Having played the night before, and with a tournament later on in the afternoon, the squad enjoyed a light session. With the sun shining, it was a brilliant way to start the day. From here, we travelled to FC Cambrils for the tournament with other UK schools. Again, another fantastic venue hosted the tournament which provided the boys with the opportunity to play against some UK schools as well as each other! Mr Dobson’s side fancied themselves as pre-tournament favourites, however, a draw in the group stages meant they couldn’t qualify for the final. They did win the 3rd / 4th place play-off though to finish on a high. Over the course of the afternoon there was some excellent football played, and it was great to see the boys develop over the week. Whilst there are numerous highlights from the fixtures, one thing that stands out for me is the way the boys supported each other at the tournament; seeing them cheer on the other Grove teams was so pleasing and showed the bonds that had developed over the week.
After the tournament, we travelled back to the hotel for our final meal. At this point I should mention that the food in the hotel was first-class, with Mr Dobson stating that it was the best hotel food he’d ever had! After dinner, we went into town to watch Mr Randhawa’s beloved Man United play in the Europa League before finishing with some end of tour awards.
For our final morning, it was an early start. Breakfast at 7.15am before travelling to the airport to fly home. After landing in Birmingham, we boarded the coach back to WGS, arriving in the early evening. On arrival, it was lovely to be greeted by appreciative parents as well as very grateful students. Reflecting on the tour, it was brilliant to be able to embark on overseas sports tours again; whilst the football is important, it’s even more important for the students to spend time away with their friends and develop so many important life skills. The boys were brilliant all week and I thoroughly enjoyed taking them on tour. It wouldn’t be possible without the staff, and I would like to thank Mr Dobson, Mr Randhawa, Mr Steene and Mr Bradburne for their help, support and company over the week.
Mr N Barr, Assistant Director of Sport