With the dynamic duo getting a bit more sleep and a bit of a lie in this morning, things looked a lot brighter all round as dawn broke in Paterna. Mr Altdorf woke to the chorus of the Suter snoring, whilst trying to wake the children up was more like the Waking Dead than Good Morning Vietnam! On a side note, the award for the most untidy room is currently being won by a Cornish mile by Anton, Alex and Kian, with floor space at a premium amongst the debris. Another hearty breakfast was gratefully received by staff and players alike, with copious amounts of coco pops, croissants, bacon and juices being consumed. The teams were going to need as much fuel on board as possible as they headed for the Valencia Academy to face the first of their Spanish opponents on the tour.
The U11 boys and the U10 girls were both in action simultaneously. The boys faced local giants CF Benafaio, whilst the girls took on the mighty Athletico Lliria. The clue was in the name for the Spanish girls’ team, who ran like lions, chasing down the gazelles of Bridgewater. It was always going to be a tough ask to get something out of the game, as the team had never played together before and some were playing in their first competitive match ever. Nevertheless, the girls grew stronger as the game wore on and produced some magical moments that will live long in the memory of those present.
Taking inspiration from the crowd cheering on the adjacent pitch as Valencia Ladies took on Real Madrid Ladies, Bridgewater earned some applause of their own. Juliette had the first shot of the match on target but it was comfortably saved. Athletico hit back instantly and went 3-0 up, despite the efforts of Emma in goal and Molly at the back. Ellen pulled a goal back, before the opposition extended their lead after the water break. With the score 5-1 in favour of the Spanish, the management team of Suter, Armstrong and Hewitt went to work in the half time team talk. Whatever was said did the trick, as Bridgewater sensationally won the second half 2-1. Ellen completed a brilliant hat trick to earn an ice cream from the SAH and everyone can take huge credit despite the 7-3 loss. A special mention must go to Nyla (who hasn’t stopped smiling since she got here), and Abigail who both ran tirelessly throughout the game and kept Bridgewater well and truly in the game at all times.
The U11 team were involved in a barnstormer of a game against CF Benafaio. The first half passed without any major incident, although David went close twice and Toby should have connected with a Jaydon cross to open the scoring. George made an early save at the start of the second half, before Bridgewater finally broke the deadlock. A crazy ten minute spell saw Bridgewater race into a 3-0 lead with goals from David, Freddie and Oliver. However, the Spanish side refused to lie down and hit back with two goals of their own. In the end, a crucial miss on the far post with the last touch of the game, gave Bridgewater a fabulous 3-2 win. Special mentions must go to Thomas in defence, Harper in midfield and Harrison on the wing, who was a constant menace to the opposition back line. Man of the match went to Craig, who was absolutely incredible at the back and had one of the best games he has ever played for Bridgewater.
The U10 team completed the morning games with a domineering performance over the U10 Benafaio team. Bridgewater dominated the game from start to finish and were clearly a stronger unit. This ensured every one of the squad got lots of playing time and plenty of the ball for the stronger players. Players were also put into different positions to experience another side to the game. Bridgewater raced into an early lead with goals from Josh (2), Alfie and Tommy. Then it happened. The moment of the tour and the moment we had all been hoping for. Josh broke three tackles and drove into the area. With his hat trick in sight, he unselfishly slipped the ball to Dravid. The keeper raced out at Dravid’s feet, only for him to coolly lift the ball over his head and into the bottom corner. The crowd erupted and the chants of “Dravid’s on fire” echoed around the stadium.
The match finished 7-3 to Bridgewater, with further goals from Alex and Josh, completing the latter’s hat trick. Harrison, Joel, Sabri and Frankie all went close to adding to the total, whilst Tom and keeper Kian were secure at the back. A great morning of football and after lunch, the jubilant teams headed to the beach.
The beach is always a major attraction on the Valencia football tour, and once more it proved to be a hit. Leah and Anna declared it to be the “best thing ever” as they jumped over the waves, and Alfie D stated that “this is the best trip I have been on”. For almost two hours most of the group played rugby/netball in the sea and surfed the waves. Others ate ice cream and Nutella toasties, or basked in the glorious Spanish sunshine. Luis, our rep from last year, surprised us all with a visit and all in all it was a delightful day.
The icing on the cake was on our return to the hotel and our evening meal. A rendition of ‘Happy Birthday” rang out, as Hari topped an eventful trip with a delicious cake. With an hour to phone home and reacquaint with mobile phones, eventually we all trooped off to bed to dream about scoring goals, riding waves and having fun with friends.
Goodnight from Valencia.