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Success For Young Dons At Home And On Continent

August 8, 2018 5:40 pm Author: AFC Media Team

It’s been a busy few weeks for the AFC Youth Academy with a number of teams taking part in summer competitions both at home and on the continent. The under 15 side (2004’s), flew to Denmark to compete in the prestigious Iber Cup two weeks ago and once again did themselves proud. Having reached the final last season, the young Dons were looking to go one better and win the competition, but unfortunately lost at the final hurdle again to Danish side Ishoj IF 4-2 on penalties.

Despite the agony of the defeat in the final, Head of Youth Academy, Neil Simpson looked back with great pride of his side throughout the week in Denmark. 

“It’s disappointing to lose the final, but it was a fantastic experience for the boys. It was a long trek to get there as we left Aberdeen early on the Monday and didn’t get there until after lunchtime.

“The facilities were amazing and had everything we needed. The stadium, which I think holds 18,000, was next door and beside that was a state of the art swimming pool. James Walker, our sports scientist, did a lot of recovery with the boys in the ice baths, so the players were in good shape throughout.”

The Iber Cup takes place all over the world with teams from Northern Europe competing in the Danish edition.  There were five teams in Aberdeen’s section with games lasting 25 minutes a half. It isn’t until U17 level when Scottish sides play weekly competitive football so the opportunity to take sides to tournaments are impossible to pass by.

“It was one game a day so you had to prepare properly, recover properly and teach the kids about that environment. The benefits are that it brings out the best of the players and learning about winning and losing will help in the long run.”

Last season the AFC  Youth Academy hosted their own tournament at the Aberdeen Sports Village and that only fuelled the desire to one day host a competition that would match size of the Iber Cup. Neil pointed to the relationships formed with other clubs over the years and said it’s an ambition to bring these teams to Aberdeen once the new facilities are completed.

“We’ve built up so many good relationships over the last four or five years by going to these tournaments with the likes of Southampton and some of Dutch teams and we definitely think we could host a really good tournament, which would inspire the kids. A number of the teams have asked about tournaments in Scotland and there isn’t really anything. A dream would be to host one as part of the opening of the new facilities.”

Last weekend Neil and his coaching staff took three academy sides to St Andrews for a weekend-long tournament which they have been going to for a number of years. The University of St Andrews Pre-Season Tournament sees the elite academies send their squad for competitive competition ahead of the new season. The young Dons can be proud of their efforts as they collected winners medals in the U13 and U14 sections.

And to top off an excellent few weeks for the academy one of their own, Bruce Anderson scored the equaliser on his first team debut as he rescued a point for The Dons against Rangers at Pittodrie.


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