One of the biggest youth soccer tournaments in Europe, the Trofeo Malgratense hosts youth teams from all across Europe as they come together to test their strength and skill. Cumbernauld-based team, Jim Baxter Memorial U17’s travelled to Barcelona in October and head coach, William Dalziel, spoke to YFS to share their experience.
It was a discussion between the players and coaches that prompted the team’s choice of the Spanish tournament. Dalziel said, “When we initially spoke to the players, they had requested the club coaches to find a tournament in Barcelona. This tournament suited our needs and timings during the October holidays in 2016.” Having spoken to other Scottish teams who had attended the tournament previously, JBM coaches were encouraged by their recommendations of the Trofeo Malgratense.
JBM arrived in Spain the evening before the tournament began, staying in Santa Susanna, a small town around an hour’s drive away from Barcelona. As part of the opening ceremony, all of the participating teams marched through the local town of San Vicenc de Montat to the stadium which hosts the home games of C.F Sanvincenti. Dalziel said, “The local residents clapped and applauded for all the teams. As the teams entered the stadium, they were welcomed with tremendous applause from all the supporting fans.” The opening ceremony also proved to be a particularly special moment for JBM captain, Adam Hughes, who gave a speech on togetherness and fair play during the ceremony.
The Cumbernauld-based side got there tournament started against Spanish side, Selección Maresme. The Scottish team were quick to throw down the gauntlet, coming away with a comfortable 9-1 win. Their next match saw them come up against German side, JFV Dietkirchen/Offh, who Dalziel described as ‘tournament favourites’. The game was closely contested by both teams but it was the German team who came away with a 1-0 win.
To progress to the final, wins were now essential for JBM. Their next match saw them come up against another German team, SV RW Walldorf, with the Scottish side claiming a 2-0 win. They continued their winning form into their last fixture in difficult conditions. In blazing heat, JBM came away with another 2-0 win against Danish side, Tune IF, to qualify for the final.
JBM and tournament favourite, JFV, were to meet again in the final. Both teams were applauded by the Danish side and the other German team, as well as the supporters of each side. Both teams played well in a fixture just as competitive as their earlier meeting but this time, JBM were the victors with a 2-0 win, with Dalziel hailing his team as ‘The Barcelona Lions’.
This is some feat for a team that were discounted by other teams in their league two seasons ago. Dalziel said, “JBM were a team written off two years [ago] by most local Cumbernauld teams after their rebirth in December 2014.” This made their achievement all the greater, making history as the first Scottish team to win the tournament in its thirty-one years.
Dalziel was full of praise for the tournament and would recommend it to other clubs. He said, “The tournament was immense, very well run and is something that will be remembered for a long time by this young team. The planning took almost a year, and the support from parents and all associated with the club was tremendous.” This support was key to the organisation of the trip, with numerous fundraisers including a winter tournament, race nights, sponsored walks and bag packing being well supported by all those involved.
JBM, who are based in Cumbernauld but features players from Airdrie, Kirkintilloch, Lenzie, Lennoxtown and Cumbernauld, have not got off to the start they were hoping for this season. Having finished as runners up in the B-league of the Cumbernauld and Kilsyth District Youth League last season, the club are still finding their feet in the first division. However Dalziel is confident that his side’s European success is a turning point in their season. He said, “This tournament has now raised the confidence of the boys and hopefully will allow us to re kick start our season once again, and push the boys forward to raise their position in the league and also the profile of the club.”
Everyone at YFS congratulates Jim Baxter Memorial U17’s on their achievement in Europe, and wishes them all the best for this season.