Young footballers from the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) have returned home undefeated in their first international tournament in Spain.
Players from the College’s Football Academy, run in partnership with Leyton Orient FC, took part in Mare Nostrum Cup near Barcelona, which ran from 13-16 April.
Each year the competition attracts more than 200 teams from under-10s to under-19s from around the world, including the UK and Ireland, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Norway Finland, Kuwait, India and the United States.
The competing teams stayed at the Cambrils Park Resort, about 70 miles south of the Catalonian city, with matches primarily taking place a short distance away at the Complex Esportiu Futbol Salou in Salou.
The CONEL team started well in the Mare Nostrum Cup, winning their first match 2-0 against Spanish side CD Iruña.
In the next group match the College grabbed an equaliser in the last minute against another Spanish team, CF Solsona, to draw 1-1.
Next up was English side and tournament favourites Tonbridge Angels FC, with CONEL showing real character to come back twice in the game to draw 2-2 with some chances to win the game.
Defender Rui Ferreira, 18, said: “We were a bit unlucky. If we’d had a full strength team I think we could have gone further. We outplayed Tonbridge but they managed to get a draw.
“I personally felt I could’ve done better, but overall it was a good test and the team performed well.”
During the tour the players also had the opportunity to visit Camp Nou, the home to European giants FC Barcelona, as well as time to relax and unwind at the PortAventura World theme park.
Adnan Malik, 18, who also plays in defence, said: “Going to Camp Nou and seeing the stadium of Barcelona was incredible. You see it on TV but seeing it for real was a huge moment.
“We saw the Champions’ League trophies and the five Ballon d’Ors won by Lionel Messi, and went down by the pitch and dugout. I can only imagine what it’s like to play there.”
The Football Academy has been in partnership with Leyton Orient FC since 2013 and offers professional coaching, physiotherapy, nutrition advice and technical analysis, as well as a free training kit and bag..
Head of Sport Jonathan Silman said: “The boys have had a great experience and performed very well against some tough opposition.
“Unfortunately, due to results from the other leagues we did not progress to the semi-finals, but to travel for our first tour and come away undefeated was a real coup for our Football Academy.”
- Last Updated: 09 April 2018