Eric Ramsay continues his diary from the Academy tournament in Denmark
It was a dramatic day for both Academy age-groups competing in the Iber Cup.
The U18s kicked the day off with a 9.50am start vs Spangsbjerg IF. In what transpired to be a really heated game, the U18s failed to convert their long spells of possession into goals and, following a last minute penalty miss, ended the game with a 1-1 draw. The game was marred by the racial abuse of one of the Academy’s players that has led to the opposition being removed from the tournament. We were really proud of how our players conducted themselves in such an emotionally-charged situation - they showed a real togetherness, team spirt and professionalism when it would have been very easy not to.
The U15s/16s then faced the tournament’s host-side, the Danish top division's Esbjerg, in another controversial affair. After the sending-off of one of our central defenders after five minutes of play following a ‘last-man foul’, our side was forced to play the remainder of the game with ten players. As a result, the side was forced to defend their penalty box for the large majority of the game and, despite a valiant effort, conceded in the early stages of second half and couldn’t find an equaliser. This was a situation that this age-grade would rarely encounter with sendings off not the norm in Academy schoolboy football. It was an excellent learning curve and one that the players would have taken an awful lot from.
Dan Copnall, the Academy’s Head of Coach Development, had the following to say on the day’s events:
"The players and staff so far have been excellent in what has been a very challenging but enjoyable few days, both on and off the pitch. In terms of comparing the last two days, they have been a complete contrast and although today has been tough physically and mentally, the players have shown excellent team spirit, grit and determination. When taking the players abroad to play football, the main aim is to expose the players to situations that they wouldn’t usually face back home, such as pressure to win, playing against different styles of play, having to to potentially play everyday and to also learn more about themselves and each other. All of these little experiences play a huge part in everyones development, staff included, unfortunately, we can’t always control how the opposition play and more importantly how the opposition conduct themselves, but we can always control how we respond to these situations, and to echo Eric’s points, the players behaved extremely well to the situations that were exposed to them today, and, as staff we were very proud of them. Roll on tomorrow!"