Coach Alan Reid says there is a “sense of excitement” around his Lewis United 2006 squad, as they prepare to travel to the Holland Easter Open next year.
The Aberdeen-based club will be joining over 500 teams from 25 countries in the south of Holland next April, and Reid says it’s the talk of the changing room:
“Most of the chat at the moment when you hear the boys talking is about Holland,” he said. “We’ve got everyone on board. Usually, when you go away on a trip there’s one or two that can’t make it, but every boy in our squad of 19 is going, which is great to see.”
The squad and coaches will be joined by parents – taking the total number flying out on Friday April 19th to 46.
So, raising the money to get everyone there hasn’t been easy, but it’s been a team effort, and – as Reid reveals – it’s all been worth it:
“We’ve been fundraising; having horse racing evenings, packing bags in supermarkets and things like that.
“The funds that we’ve raised means all the boys are getting there for free, and there’s still a bit left over for a reduced rate for the parents.”
It’s been a long time coming for this Lewis United team. As Reid explains, it’s been an ambition of his to take this team overseas for almost as long as they’ve been together:
“I’ve had a bunch of kids together for about six or seven years, right through the age groups from 4v4 to 11-a-side,” he said. “From the off I said that once we get to 11’s we’re going to go to a tournament abroad.
“Trans World Soccer brought this tournament to our attention and we figured it would be a great opportunity.”
With a guarantee of at least five matches, it’s a chance for a Lewis United side that are used to dominating games to test themselves against European opposition:
“When we play a lot of other teams in Aberdeen we over-run them a little bit, so I’m looking forward to challenging the boys against a good class of opposition,” said Reid. “It’ll be interesting to see how they handle the different styles of football that they come across.”
But, ultimately, what the team learn on the football pitch is secondary to the experiences they’ll take from the time they’ll spend together.
After the tournament wraps-up on Sunday, they’ll have time to experience Holland – including a tour of PSV’s stadium - for themselves before flying back to Scotland on the Tuesday.
And Reid is confident it’ll be an experience they’ll remember for a long time:
“Just the chance to just see the boys abroad, in a different climate and being altogether for a long period of time will be great,” he said.
“When you’re playing football, you’ve got them for maybe two or three hours at a time, then they go back to their separate little worlds, but it’s good to have them together for five days; travelling, flying, going to stadiums - and especially playing football.”