It started off as only a dream during a preseason curry night in the heart of Epsom. During October half term 2017 the Under 14 Blues set their sights on Europe. We flew to Porto, Portugal to train with their academy coaches and to play against the Future Development Squad.
We landed in Porto on the morning of 23rd October and were taken straight to the First Class Vitalis Park in the heart of the city. The boys, full of excitement started their first of two training sessions with the Porto coaches. A very intense training session under the midday sun saw the boys put through their paces. From a fun football tennis warm up to a high energy session on recovery runs to a competitive tournament. After the sweltering training session the boys were met by a healthy and tasty lunch cooked by the Porto chefs. We were then transported out of the city to our hotel, situated right on the beachfront. With an on site swimming pool and football pitch the boys were kept busy throughout their time at the hotel.
The boys enjoyed their second training session the following day, again under the hot beating Portuguese sun. Not much different from a pre-season down at court rec! The boys learnt a lot from the training sessions and had an undoubtedly thrilling experience. The training base was first class, as were everyone involved at Vitalis Park, from the coaches to the chefs in the kitchen who cooked up two very tasty meals for the boys and parents alike. That night we journeyed to the Estadio Do Dragao, the stadium of the Porto FC. The game between Porto and Leixoes was a game of little chances but a good contest. It was the first game some of the boys had been to, so was another good experience for all. The game ended 0-0 but it was good to see the Porto philosophy at work. The techniques and ways to play that had been taught to our boys during their training.
The following morning we travelled back to the Estadio Do Dragao to have lunch in one of the executive boxes. We had a 3 course meal with a view of the pitch which again was absolutely stunning. We followed up our lunch with a behind the scenes store of the stadium and explored the breathtaking interactive museum and shop. Reading up on Portos many successes, including winning the Champions League twice, last of which was in 2006. That night came the fixture we had all been waiting for and what we had been building up for over the previous two days. We ate our dinner at the hotel and then boarded the bus to the ground, just minutes away from our hotel. We arrived at the ground only to be met with more first class facilities. We had our pre-match team talk in the changing room, talking through formations and tactics and how we were going to beat such a prestige team in their own back garden.
The game started and we knew already that the opposition were strong and well drilled. We played our game, passing and moving. We started to create plenty of chances and threaten to take the lead early on. The game was very even throughout the first half. The second half started where the first half left off, with us on the front foot. We then took the lead through a fine finish from Jack Buckely. We had the lead and had something to protect. The waves of attack from Porto were relentless until we hit them again. After a good passage of passing we found a gap to exploit. A flowing move from back to front gave Epsom an extended lead. Another ffine finish from Ethan helped Epsom to a 2-0 victory as we held on for the clean sheet and another unforgettable experience playing under the lights. We finished the night with celebrations and reflection what a successful and fun filled european tour we have had. I would like to thank our rep from Inspire Sports accompanied us throughout the tour. I would also like to thank everyone at Porto (Dragon Force) for their training and the chance to play their development squad.
I would also like to thank all of the parents and players who came and made this trip a major success and enjoyed experience for all involved. I couldn’t be more proud of how the boys conducted themselves around the hotel and Porto. Roll on Valencia 2018.
Epsom&Ewell Colts Under 14 Blues Manager