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Youth Academy Holland-Bound for Elite Competition

June 7, 2018 4:49 pm Author: AFC Media Team

 

This weekend sees two AFC Youth Academy sides fly out to The Netherlands to take on elite academies in two prestigious tournaments. The 2003’s will face Dutch sides and other clubs from Europe as well as Brazil and Japan in an eight-team competition and the 2007’s are in a twelve-team competition with teams from Ajax, PSV, Wolves and Schalke to name a few.

Both tournaments are completely separate with the 2003 squad based near the Dutch city of Utrecht and the 2007’s venturing near the German border in Panningen.

The two-day tournaments will offer group and knockout competition and are strictly invitation only so AFC are in good company but won’t be there to just make up the numbers and are relishing the opportunity to test themselves against top clubs.

Before departing with the squads, Head of Academy Coaching, Gavin Levey spoke at length about this weekend’s tournaments and about the privilege of being recognised in such high regard at youth level.

“Fortunately, because we’re getting more exposure at tournaments in Europe year on year, we’re getting more prestigious invitations as well. It’s important that our kids are exposed to playing in Club Academy Scotland and playing against the best teams in this country, but we’ve got to show them that there’s another level above that as well. The important thing to remember is enjoy the opening ceremony and look around the teams next to you because you’re standing beside the likes of Ajax, PSV, RB Leipzig etc so pinch yourself because this is where we’re at just now. We’re in a very fortunate position.”

There are less opportunities for Scottish clubs to play competitive competition at academy level so the young Dons often venture to the continent throughout the year to compete in elite level tournaments and Gavin believes this added pressure will help the youngsters moving forward.

“At tournaments you’re going to get highs, lows, celebrations and tears, but you’re going to get winners and losers and that’s life in any other sport. When we go away to these tournaments every other country is playing competitively every week and you can tell. When the kids hit high school, we need to look at different forms of competition.

“We know we have to continue to compete at the best level we can if we’re going to get back to these tournaments and we want this experience to last as long as it can do. We can’t become complacent because if we go there and aren’t grateful for what we have then we won’t get back. Everyone is in it together.

Gavin is a huge advocate for clubs in Scotland playing competitive fixtures in academies more regularly and hopes this weekend will show what the game in this country has perhaps been missing. “We ended up organising our own tournament in January, the Katoni Cup, and we had a great environment played in the right spirit and the feedback was fantastic. This weekend is a big occasion for us, but these countries are playing regularly and, in this country, unless you’re playing for Scotland U16’s in the Victory Shield you’ll not play competitively.”

 

Good luck to both teams over the weekend in The Netherlands.

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