Spain trip a success for Youth Team

Adelaide United’s Youth Team have recently arrived back from Spain, where they competed in the International Cup 2014 (MIC) tournament held in the Catalonia region.

Adelaide United-s Youth Team have recently arrived back from Spain, where they competed in the International Cup 2014 (MIC) tournament held in the Catalonia region.

In their first time competing in this tournament, the Youth Team played six competitive matches along with two friendlies.

The two friendlies were against local Spanish side, Club Esportiu Premià and Qatar National U18 Team (Aspire Academy).

In the competitive matches they played 3 group games where they were up against Second Division B side Terrassa (1-3 loss), local Catalonia club Hostalric (1-0 win) and La Liga heavyweights Athletic Bilbao (0-4 loss). These matches were followed by two more in the Consolation Cup Qualifying Phase. The Youth Team secured two wins against FC Palafrugell (1-0 win) and Unió Esportiva Quart (3-0 win) which booked them a spot in the semi-finals.

The Youth Team played a hard-fought semi-final in which they lost to local Catalan team, CE L-Hospitalet (2-3 loss).

Despite the loss in the semi-final, Youth Team Coach Michael Valkanis was very satisfied with the tournament as a whole.

“I thought the tournament was a great learning experience for everyone,” said Valkanis.

"We had just completed a really good NYL season and to cap it off, we were very competitive getting some great results in the MIC 2014 Tournament.

“Overall what really pleases me, is that we played good football, playing our style and dominating all but one game, which was against Athletic Bilbao.

“After coming back and having our 1-on-1 meetings, it-s interesting to see how much they learnt from the trip and what we have to do as a team to improve and become better players.

“It has also given us a lot of confidence in the work we are doing. We are looking forward to working hard to develop and give opportunities to good South Australian talent. It will be an exciting year ahead with the 12-month program kicking into gear this year.”

Matches aside, the players and coaching staff also had the opportunity to get a behind-the scene tour of FC Barcelona's Camp Nou as well as attending the two La Liga games - Matchday 33 clash between Espanyol and Rayo Vallecano at the Cornellà-El Prat and the Matchday 34 clash between Barcelona and Athletic Club Bilbao at the Camp Nou.

The Youth Team coaches made sure the players had this time away from playing, where they could experience all aspects of the game.

“The trip was a holistic experience for the players. For many it was a dream come true, but also a trigger, a spark, a motivator to keep working hard to become better footballers,” explained Valkanis.

“It was good to experience the culture and the emotion behind football in a country where football is a religion.

The players have come away noticing how people, players all live and breathe the game. Hopefully they can take that passion into their game and into our environment to help them become better footballers.”

Bruce Kamau was one of the players selected for the trip. He signed with the Adelaide United Youth Team for the start of the 2013/14 Foxtel National Youth League season, where he played 16 of a possible 18 games, scoring 4 goals in the process. Kamau, currently 19 years old, finished his season on a high by being selected to travel to Spain.

“Joining the club has been a great experience. It-s a lot more professional, where I am receiving better training by better coaches and playing with better players,” explained Kamau.

“The season was great for me. I played most games and scored a few goals, but for me it was about learning the style and improving as a player.

“The program was offered to me, and that was a no-brainer decision. I get to learn and train with coaches and past players like Mickey (Michael Valkanis) and Ange (Angelo Costanzo), which I know will help with my football development.

The winger, Bruce Kamua, was one of the standout players for the Youth Team at the tournament. He netted two goals, two assists and provided plenty of penetration along the right hand side.

“The trip was amazing. Once in a lifetime opportunity, where I learnt so much,” said Kamua.

“When we arrived, it took a few days to sink in as we were staying across from the Camp Nou. You see it on TV and now it-s outside your window - something you don-t get to see every day.

“The matches were a good learning curve for myself and my team mates. It was a good way to measure yourself as a footballer and know where you need to be at to be playing professionally.

“Our team-s skill level was on par with the competitors, but their mentality was above what I-ve ever experienced. They all have a do-or-die attitude, and it-s something we need to incorporate into our game.

“Overall it was the best overseas footballing experience I-ve been involved in and it-s now given me more motivation to learn and improve as a footballer, it-s set the benchmark.”

The club would also like to thank Olympic Industries, Basetec Services, David Pollock and The Martyn Crook Foundation for sponsoring the trip and helping to provide young South Australian footballers the experience of a life time.

Adelaide United-s participation in this tournament along with previous Youth Team trips to China to play in the prestigious Weifang Cup tournaments, confirms its commitment to providing a strong development program for the best young South Australian players including competitions against the best youth players around the world.

The Youth Team players are now on break but will re-commence training in two weeks.

Results: Class A (1995 Born) - Group E (Qualifying Phase) 16/04/14 - 17:00 Adelaide United FC - 1 (Alec Maiolo) UFB Jàbac i Terrassa - 3

17/04/14 - 11:00 Athletic Club Hostalric - 0 Adelaide United FC - 1 (Mitchell Walsh)

17/04/14 - 18:00 Athletic Club Bilbao - 4 Adelaide United FC - 0

Consolation Cup (Qualifying Phase) 18/04/14 - 11:00 Adelaide United FC - 1 (Mitchell Walsh) FC Palafrugell - 0

18/04/14 - 17:00 Adelaide United FC - 3 (Dion Kirk (pen), Bruce Kamau 2) Unió Esportiva Quart - 0

Consolation Cup (Semi-Final) 19/04/15 - 12:00 Adelaide United FC - 2 (Dom Pollock, Jordan Pudler) CE L-Hospitalet - 3

Squad: John Hall, Bruce Kamau, Dion Kirk, Alec Maiolo, Daniel Margush, Angus Mitchell, Adam Piscioneri, Donovan Pollock, Jordan Pudler, Christopher Skull, Tommy Stokes, Ruon Tongyik, Anthony Ture, Mitchell Walsh, Oliver Zafiridis

Staff: Michael Valkanis, Angelo Costanzo, Jarrad Elliott, Michael Giakoumis, Con Kapnistis