Fremont YSC took to Europe once again, traveling through the UK as part of a cultural experience.
The purpose of the trip is largely for the youth players, and families, to experience another culture, and specifically one with a strong football culture. While the language may be similar (we use ‘u’ a lot more), the day to day experience is different, and sense of community also a lot different and attached in most places to it’s football club.
If you missed the trip, it’s work watching ‘Welcome to Wrexham’, it’s hard to explain it better than they do.
The football culture is significantly different, and players traveling will witness this from the moment they land. They will experience what it means to play football and why it is so important to the community at every level, from professional to grassroots. While football is the main purpose, players also experience the historical differences, and day to day cultural differences. The trip also supports the players independence. When many will be leaving for college in the coming years, but are yet to have experienced being away from home, and therefore never experienced the need to be open to different ways, and so as adolescents they are responsible for their own time keeping, responsibilities, and accountability; incredibly valuable life skills to be learning.
The upcoming series of reviews will invite you into the experience of the trip.
Day 1 and Day 2
Day 1 is the traveling day, the long-haul flight from San Francisco to London, with a little stop in Canada along the way. While flying throughout the night, many were able to get some sleep, while others made the most of the extensive collection of movies they were able to watch.
So as we blend straight into Day 2, it’s a meeting with our tour director, Andy Macmillan; a very jolly Scotsman, a large personality and incredibly welcoming person. We board the bus to drop off our belongings at the hotel, just a quick stop and change, and straight to training.
It is common for teams in the UK to train in what are know as ‘cages’. These are small fields surrounded by boards where the ball never leaves play. The most fun a player will have due to the speed and needed technical ability to play in such area, and you can imagine how physically taxing with so many short sprints and never ending play. With consideration of the long travel, training was a light passing pattern with extended stretching time, followed by some shooting, and finally a small sided game. Enough volume and intensity to get the body moving, lengthening the muscles from the long flight, and preparation for the week… along with keeping us awake!
The day ended with our first Premier League game experience. The first game of the season, Crystal Palace vs Arsenal, a London derby to kick-off the season. The atmosphere was bold and intense, sitting amongst the home fans, and close to home crowd supporters area behind the one goal, but close enough to hear the Arsenal fans in the opposite corner respond to the chants and cheers. For many it was the first live game, and not a bad one to start with.
The crowds pre-game filling the residential streets around Selhurst Park, and the tiny turnstile gates to squeeze through to enter the concourse, was the perfect welcome to football. Fans wearing their team colors, large groups seeing each other for the first time since last season, and the return of the half time pie!
While score resulted in a home loss, with Arsenal winning 2-0, it was an experience to see how committed the fans were in supporting their team. While dampened by loss, this did not prevent them form fully supporting their team until the very end. Unless experiencing it for yourself, it’s hard to explain how much the teams mean to their communities, with history of the clubs going back over 100 years.
A great start to the trip, with plenty more football and community experiences to come in the days we’d stay in London.