Whilst everyone was waking up to another day of school, the players on the Valencia trip were being educated in a different way. With a lie in guaranteed as training was later, everyone woke up feeling refreshed and ready for another day of activity and excitement. Well nearly everyone… Hewitt and Armstrong continued to eke out every extra second in bed, as did Molly, Jasmine and Allegra. In all fairness, both teachers had suffered a blow in the ‘Password’ competition and needed to recover their composure. Every credit must go to Mrs Suter, who has forsaken a night out with her better half on her anniversary today. Happy Anniversary to you both from us all in Valencia.
After the noise of knives and forks, spoons and croissant pickers had died down, the well fed youngsters prepared to go to the first training session of the day. With a specialist goalkeeping clinic available, we suddenly found we had more potential goalkeepers on the tour than anticipated. Kian, George, Emily and Emma were joined by Tom, Harrison and Alfie who had bought gloves from the Valencia shop. On the other three pitches, the Valencia coaches put the teams through some attacking and defending drills. Supplemented with small sided games to emphasise the power of a quick counter attack and the use of width, we hope the players will be able to put these skills and concepts into their game play. Meanwhile, Mrs Hewitt was giving Miss Armstrong and in fact, us all a lesson in how to take a penalty with power and precision past the surprisingly agile Mr Suter. Although the “panenka” from Mr Altdorf left even the Valencia coaches applauding!
With the rolls of thunder in the distance, the teams completed training and returned to the hotel for lunch. With a room inspection due at 12.45pm, many returned to rooms in a mild state of panic. Hopefully, as well as developing football skills, making new friends, experiencing a different culture, managing time and money, each player will also come back and tidy their rooms to a new level…. or maybe not! Having said that, Nyla, Emma and Juliette could set up a cleaning company as their room was immaculate. Well done girls!
Following a sumptuous lunch to carbo load our young athletes, we had some free time before the afternoon training session. The variety and quality of the food on offer was amazing and all filled up like a camel before a trek across the desert. Meat, fish, pasta , paella, fruit, cakes and various types of pastries were consumed once more. Thomas and David received a bonus ice cream from the waiters, as they had remained behind to help tidy up the tables. Well done boys! Fortunately, the threat of thunder did not last long and the sun bursting through the clouds like Mo Salah through the United defence (hopefully!!). The troop set up camp on the roof top terrace for some relaxation and a splash in the pool.
At 4pm we returned for the second training session at Paterna. Each Bridgewater team had 30 minutes with each of the three Valencia coaches. The best session was the 1v1 with a 2v1 fast break. Alfie D got booked for a blatant dive when clean through, whilst Sabri turned his man, shot and scored… in his own goal? Nyla hunted down Allegra and Evie like Fernandinho with a ponytail. Jaydon was turned inside out and upside down by the impressive David and Evie O and Evie B tag teamed Molly to deny her a certain goal. Dravid continued his fine run of goal scoring form by nutmegging Alfie T in goal. The icing on the cake was a chance to watch the U17 Valencia team in training close up. The team put on a bit of a show and we all marvelled at how hard each player struck the ball, found space, passed and moved, whilst their first touch and control was sublime. No player took more than three touches and almost every time, the player picked his pass out before the ball got to him. With six Spanish U17 internationals and the Dutch U17 goalkeeper on show, it really was a privilege to see the stars of tomorrow in action today.
On our return to the hotel, some showered, some chilled out and some hit the roof top pool as the sunset in the distance for another bout of synchronised bombing. With the evening meal ensuring energy levels were restored, the evening activity was the much anticipated return of the mobile phone. A chance to phone home, play on games, catch up on streets and feel the precious device in hands once more, was the perfect way to end another amazing day. Goodnight from Valencia.