Global Satellite Soccer Academy (Canada) (GSSA) 2014 tour of England – a fantastic opportunity and A memorable experience, way beyond your imagination.
The “home of soccer”, which is England, is the ultimate destination for any soccer tour. The Premier League boasts the World’s finest talent and the fact that our GSSA teams can play at some of thebest Academies in England, usually reserved for the professionals, is a privilege that we at GSSA never takes for granted. England is a perfect choice for teams of all ages and standards and for opportunities of a lifetime.
Global Satellite Soccer Academy (Canada) embarked on it 2014 tour of England on Sunday March 9th on TS 292 flight destined to Manchester. It was a great flight and our arrival in Manchester was a matter of eager anticipation, especially for our younger squad members.
Our executive Grayway Coach, with the GSSA name and logo emboldened, was already in place and the 45 minute ride to Premier Inn Haydock was along a scenic route made busy by early commuters off to whatever challenges their day was about to present. We soon settled in at the Hotel and was off to breakfast at the Stone Cross Restaurant, only a few steps from our new place of residence.
The tour was now in start mode and the challenge would be, arriving in England that day and playing against the Academy of Bury Football Club, a football club based in Bury, Greater Manchester, that night. The Bury FC club are currently members of England’s Football League Two. Our GSSA teams got a lesson in ball circulation predicated on speed of thought and speed of player movement. Yet we gave nearly as good as we got and both of the games were of outstanding quality. We lost the games but football definitely won. Compliments for our boys’ performance was offered from the chairman of Bury FC even though we had only arrived in England on the very day of the game and it showed in final minutes. Julian Rawlings was the first GSSA a player to get his name on score with a great solo effort.
Next up was the games against the Academies of Bolton Wanderers Football Club. Bolton Wanderers Football Club is an English professional football club based in Bolton in the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton and plays in England’s Football League Championship Division, just below the EPL. The games were played at the Academy training ground known as Lostock. The games were of a very high caliber and even though both of our squads came out on the losing end as far as the scores were concerned, they were playing some superb soccer. We had gained some rest and had picked up our tempo from the Bury game. Again the comments from scouts and coaches were very positive.
After 2 days of positive football, it was time for a break. On Wednesday, we were hosted by Everton Football Club for a grand tour of Goodison Park, home the “blues”. We toured the dressing rooms, the board room, the media room and the famous ground. With cameras exploding all around us, the memories of this fantastic tour was being preserved. Lunch at the Hot Wok was soothing to our appetites and then it was on to the city of Liverpool for shopping and sightseeing. Newcastle United FC awaited.
We left the hotel at 6:00 am for our long to journey to Newcastle United Football Club to play their Academies. Newcastle United Football Club is an English professional association football club based in Newcastle upon Tyne and which plays in England’s Premier league. After some 3 hours of travel, we were entertained with a tour of St. James Park, the official football ground of Newcastle. We toured the players dressing where the jerseys of Remi, Sissoko, Cisse and Tiote were all hanging in their respective seating areas. We sat in those seats taking pictures and learning some Newcastle history from our tour guide. We also visited the pitch before having lunch in the Allan Shearer restaurant now renamed simply “9”. Then it was on to Little Benton where our seniors took on Newcastle Academy. It was game tailor made for the purists. GSSA played superbly but loss in a close game. The highlight of this game was a super strike by Dwight Van Dyke from all of 35 yards and flew beyond the Newcastle keeper as though it was lasered. It was a goal that netted Dwight a Newcastle official team jersey, compliments of the Academy Manager. The stage was now set for the juniors and they really delivered a stunning performance. The game was tied 1 – 1 but GSSA was the better team on this night. GSSA’s Trayvon Fuller capped the evening with a fantastic opening goal after great build up work by our team. Our football was definitely rising now with each game.
Friday was a relaxing day at the hotel as we prepared for our games against the Academies of Skelmersdale United. Skem United, as they are fondly called, is the feeder team that delivered Russell Osman, current Everton star midfielder, to the “Blues” and Craig Noone, the hard working midfield man, to Cardiff City. The GSSA juniors picked up where they had left off and absolutely battered Skem with ball possession and opportunities. We created a number of opportunities and half chances but couldn’t hit the back of the net. In the end, a single goal by Skem held out but our juniors were so very impressive.
The GSSA Seniors were brimming with confidence as they took on a physical Skem United Senior side. Our foot had improved with each succeeding game and the display against Newcastle was still energizing our every step. We played the Skem lads off the park on this night and when our striker Shaan Hundal struck twice either side of the clock, with great assists from midfielders Hamzah Rizvi and Dwight Van Dyke respectively, it was really the culmination of a fine football evening for us at the West Lancashire College Stadium. Our defense was solid even though a couple of them played out of position just as a couple of our juniors had done earlier.
Saturday was a day that everyone was looking forward to. We were returning to Goodison Park where we were so wonderfully entertained with a tour of the Stadium and where we had done plenty of souvenir purchasing at the Everton Souvenir store. The staff at Goodison refers to us as their cousins and we are always appreciative of their hospitality. Everton vs Cardiff City was the EPL game at Goodison and GSSA’s players and parents were a part of the delightful atmosphere that is always guaranteed at an EPL game. The game was one that lacked ambition and ingenuity but as always, when Everton scores the “Goodison Roar” envelops the stadium. They scored on two occasions to eke out a 2- 1 win against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Welsh based side. And somewhere among the thunderous voices of the Everton faithful you could hear the GSSA family offering their own accented version of the “Goodison Roar”.
Sunday was the final day of the tour but an important day for us as we were about to play Cammell Laird FC at Kirkland Stadium. At stake was the Mick O’Brien (our late co-founder) Memorial trophy contested by the juniors and the Sam Capper Memorial Trophy (the late Cammell Laird FC team member) contested by the seniors. The juniors played superbly with their ball movement and running off the ball. Our hosts was very physical, as is normal with most English squads. We battled hard to break the deadlock, which remained unbroken and penalty kicks ensued. The score was even after the first 3 kicks but we missed subsequently and lost in a game which was really well contested.
The seniors were up next and controlled the entire affair for 3 quarters of the game. We were up 1 – 0 by a beautiful goal by Shaan Hundal after some outstanding build up work by Aidan Donaldson and Hamzah Rizvi which served to produce a fine ball from Javonte Etienne into the path of Shaan and his finish was decisive. The final quarter of the game undid us. We were home and dry or so we thought only succumb to a counterpunch. At the final whistle it was 1 – 1. De ja vu. As our juniors had done in the first game, we lost the penalty contest and with it, we surrendered the Sam Capper Memorial Trophy which we had won the previous year – you guessed it, by penalty kicks.
A fantastic afternoon of football reached its conclusion and we were then subject to the hospitality of our hosts. We retired to the clubhouse where we were fed and where beverages of all sorts were on hand. A good way to end a grueling tour but an exciting successful event indeed. Monday morning at 2:00 am our executive coach was at our hotel ready and waiting for the drive to the Manchester airport. In the words of one parent – “Sad it had to end”.
As we reflect on the tour, we had so many successes and so many compliments and so many admirers. Our association with the clubs in England is growing immensely and this will be reflected in the opportunities available to our players. However, part of that reflection must be placed on our parents who did a superb job supporting our players and conducting themselves in exemplary fashion. They are really model parents. Barb Hoeve and Russell Ramdial were outstanding not only as general parents (to all the boys) as all the parents were, but also for their photography contributions. Francis Etienne was on hand to help with all we asked him to help with. Wendy Hewgill is a rock for us. She keeps us grounded and her support is impeccable. Sam Medeiros is the first assistant coach to be taken on this England Showcase Tour and he was outstanding with players and with parents. Yet the icing on the proverbial cake was the success of our players. They all gave a good account themselves. In the end, the following players were earmarked for 2 week RESIDENTIAL TRIALS at the respective clubs:
EVERTON FC (JUNIORS)
BOLTON WANDERERS FC (JUNIORS)
1. ROMAINE WATKIS
2. LABSAN BEDRUDIN
3. TRAYVON FULLER
4. SUNNY DHALIWAL
BOLTON WANDERERS FC (SENIORS)
DWIGHT VAN DYKE
Above all, I want to thank all of our players for their passionate participation in this exciting event. It was your participation and outstanding performances that made this 2014 tour, a tour to remember. I believe that our training, your subsequent development and the games you played in England will now provide you with an invaluable insight as to what it takes to get to the next level. As you go forward in your soccer career, this marvelous exposure will help you to formulate and shape your attitude and game towards a higher level of football. Never give up pursuing your dream even if it means changing directions a few times along the way. You have the undying support of GSSA.
Former Pro & Int’l Player
FA International Coaching License
Global Satellite Soccer Academy (Canada)
“Enhancing Player Value, Through Superior Training and Providing Great