Saturday, August 15, 2015

Day 13: August 15

Our last full day in England!  Its been a good two weeks here, lots of football & new friendships made between the kids in this group of 65.  They mix in with everything they do now - in the dining hall, socializing in the dorms, pick up games on campus, everything.

Today we had the chance to go to a Premier League match:  Southampton vs. Everton.  Kickoff was at 12:45pm and Southampton is about 90 or so minutes west of here along the south coast of England.    The kids boarded the bus along with the CMT staff at 8:45 for departure at 9am (Seacoast coaches followed in a separate car due to # of seats available on the bus).

Leaving extra time for the ride along the A27 with about a million roundabouts on the 56 mile route(there were really 17 of them on the way), we had plenty of time to find parking and walk over to the stadium to meet up with the group.  Southampton seemed like a nice city with little shops/galleries and plenty of places to grab a bite or a pint before the match if desired.  There was a decent showing of Everton fans in town for the game.

I'd guess that the stadium holds about 30,000 people  We were sitting in the corner, everyone in our group was together.  Everton ended up winning 3-0 as Lukaku had 2 goals.  His first was off a header - great finish!

After the game, most of the group paid a visit to the Megastore for Southampton souvenirs.  Some made it their 2nd trip to the pro shop, also visiting before the match.

While a few kids were still in the pro shop, others noticed the Everton buses a little further along the side of the stadium and waited to see the players as they boarded their buses.  A few lucky people in our group managed to get photos and/or autographs with some of the players!

Andres with Lukaku

Yes even the "big kids" got photos and autographs...

Tim Howard signed my ticket, as well as a few of the kids' tickets.

Ian with Southampton's Mane 

Upon our return to campus, the kids were told to make sure everything is packed up tonight.  The majority of the boys are up very early for a 5am bus to the airport as their US Air flight departs around 10am for Philly, and a layover to Boston.  The girls (plus a few of the boys) catch the 8am bus for their 1am Virgin Atlantic flight to Boston.

The kids could be seen running around outside on campus enjoying their last night here, playing 5v5 soccer on their own in the upper quad (not sure if they were supposed to play on that greenspace!), then giving hugs and saying goodbye before heading to bed.

View pictures from today here.

Up bright and early tomorrow for the trip home!  Thank you England!  It will be great to sleep in our own beds tomorrow night!

Day 12: August 14th

Our last day with the Brighton coaches and all of the CMT staff members was today and reality set in for a lot of the kids that we would be heading home soon.

Had a mishap with my laptop yesterday - Ian tripped on the cord and it flew across the room.  It has seen better days but still functioning for now!

The players had meetings in the morning with the coaches who had worked with them over the past two weeks, receiving individual feedback on various areas of their game.  The boys went first so they could prepare for their matches in the afternoon since they were scheduled for an early lunch.

The girls would have their meetings while the boys ate, and up until they would be picked up by the bus to go watch the boys play vs. Sussex Elite.  These kids are just below Brighton & Hove Albion's academy teams.

The younger boys played first at 1pm, followed by the older boys at 2:30pm.  Our teams won again today, and it was great to have the support of all the other kids at the fields during the matches.

After the game, I grabbed everyone and was able to get a full group photo, including our staff, the Brighton coaches and CMT staff members.

View the full photo album here.

The bus shuttled us back to campus for dinner, followed immediately by the awards presentations.  Each age group named a player to receive one of three awards:  Players' Player (voted on by all the players), Brighton Coaches' Player (selected by the Brighton Coaches) and Seacoast Manager's Player (selected by the Seacoast United coaches).  Here were the winners for each age group:

Younger Boys:  Myles Culley (Player's Player), Ezra Colcord (Brighton's Player), Julio Cortez (Seacoast Manager's Player)

Older Boys:  Jake Blacken (Player's Player), Erik Quaintance (Brighton's Player), Andres Rosas (Seacoast Manager's Player)

Younger Girls:  Eliza Jansujwicz (Player's Player), Jasmine Richards (Brighton's Player), Megan Olszewski (Seacoast Manager's Player)

Older Girls:  Caitlin Trott (Player's Player),  Meghan Smith (Seacoast Manager's Player), Anika Elias (Brighton's Player)

CMT staff also chose a "Camp Hero" for the two weeks - congratulations to Anika Elias!  She was presented with a soccer jersey with the Lancing College logo on the left chest.

I put together a slideshow with just some of the pics from this week, it was presented after the awards were finished.  Watch the slideshow:

Seacoast staff exchanged gifts with the Brighton coaches, and then we presented the CMT staff with a few Seacoast United goodies as a thank you for all their hard work these past two weeks.  Sophie, Sarah, and Lizzie were super excited about the SUSC swag.

One more blog post tomorrow before we head home on Sunday!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Day 11: August 13th

Overnight we had some thunderstorms roll through the area.  Happy to say that I don't think any of the kids heard them :)  The weather for today was not great as thunderstorms were due for a good chunk of the morning.

It started after breakfast with the heavy rain, then lightning all over.  The light session on the field was quickly turned into a longer pool session to keep the kids indoors.  Storms were pretty bad, and lasted right up until the girls' kickoff at 1pm.

First up: Our girls would play Crawley Town.  We received a phone call that their bus broke down, so kickoff was pushed back a little bit (20 min) as the Crawley parents drove all the kids over to Brighton & Hove Albion's training ground.  The field we were playing on is turf, so no issues with field conditions.

The rain not only stopped, but we had a period of about 20 minutes where it was really windy.  Following that, the sun came out around 2pm and it became really humid, but a really nice afternoon. The weather in this part of the country is so unpredictable.

Both the 14s and 15s won, with Alyanna Beaudoin scoring 3 goals (1 off a header) in the first game.  Following that match, both teams would then face Brighton's U17 girls.  Fantastic results for our girls as the 14s drew 1-1, and the 15s won 1-0 against an older team.

The boys hosted Cardiff City at Lancing College for a 2:30pm kickoff.  Both games took place at the same time, side by side on the fields where we train each day.  The teams won again by a good margin.

Because of the staggered kickoff times and close proximity of the two locations, I was able to take photos of the girls v Crawley Town, and then catch a ride back to Lancing for the boys game.

Photos from today are available here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Day 10: August 12th

London Excursion Day!  Up early so we could hit the road early.  Did I mention we love buses?? :)

8am departure, arrived in London by 10:15am, traffic wasn't bad actually.  We walked from Tottenham Court Rd down Oxford Street to NikeTown London for our first visit of the day.  Oxford Street is the busiest shopping street in London.  Picture Boylston St and Newbury St together and multiply it by a factor of 10.  Its crazy.

Upon our arrival at Nike, the staff greeted us at the door and the group shouted some Nike/Swoosh chants.  The kids drew tons of attention from the "common folk".  Some were given giant Nike sneaker cutouts to walk around with for a bit, so I tried to catch them for a few pics.

We were told that the entire group would receive a special discount on our purchases today (woohoo!), and we would also be able to participate in the skills challenge area on the ground floor.

The kids were basically drooling over the various types of boots and soccer gear on display.  Some bought clothes, some bought sneakers or indoor shoes.  All of them came away happy.

Back to the bus to grab our bagged lunches, and over to Trafalgar Square to eat.  I can't imagine the number of tourist photos that will have Seacoast United kids in the background when they all climbed up on the monument with the lions.

After lunch, we traveled on foot to various historic sites including Downing Street, Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Horse Guard's Parade,
Buckingham Palace, St. James Park, and The Mall.  All along the way the kids were fed factoids about the various sites.  We'll see how well they recall the information during quiz night tomorrow!

Then on to Piccadilly Circus for a stop at Lillywhites and/or Cool Britannia for some souvenirs.  Its funny to see how many stops there were along the way for "selfies".

In total the full tour from lunch through boarding the bus home had to be around 3.5 hours in total.  Lots of walking but lots of fun too.

FYI...Lillywhites is a sporting goods store in the heart of Piccadilly Circus that is operated by Sports Direct and has considerably better prices than any regular retail store selling the same gear.  For parents worrying about spending money, we are trying to point the kids in the right direction if they wish to purchase items here in the city where things can be overpriced.

There was also a pit stop in St James Park for a quick snack break.  Most of the group I was with opted for a soft serve ice cream.

After spending more money on little souvenirs (most of the conversations I had with the kids, their  gifts included items for family members, not so much for themselves) we waited for the others to wrap up their shopping and then headed back to the bus near Charing Cross.

From there, it was approximately a 2 hour bus ride back to campus with dinner at 7:05pm.  The kids had an easy night as they prepare for their 4th day of matches tomorrow.

View today's photo album here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Day 9: August 11th

First things first:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY CRICKET!!  Our parent fan club treated Cricket with a birthday cake and decorated her dorm room area.  Cricket even received a birthday phone call from her former coach who now lives in the UK!

Busy day today, but trying to keep the kids as fresh as possible for this afternoon's games.
Breakfast at 8:15, followed by a regeneration session/workshop at 9:30-11am.  Between breakfast and the session, here is what my floor looked like:

Group power nap?  Not sure how much sleep they actually got in 20 minutes

Lunch for girls at 11:30 due to their earlier kickoff, boys at 12pm.

The girls would get an earlier start to their games than the boys today, with the 14's kicking off at 1pm, 15's at 2:30pm.  Buses loaded and headed to Brighton & Hove Albion's training ground (2 miles away).  Here is a great pic that shows how close the two locations are.

I'm waiting on approval from Brighton to post the action shots from the girls' games this afternoon, but here are the squad photos...

The 14's fell behind early but quickly responded to finish on top.  One of the highlights was Emma Gallant scoring on a full volley from a cross. The 15's scored early in their match and never looked back.  Caitlin Trott scored a hat trick for the older girls team.

Once the action photos are approved I'll be sure to post them!

The boys played host to Chelsea at Lancing College with both games kicking off at 2:30pm.  Once again, both boys' teams put forth a great performance and defeated the Chelsea sides.

The scramble back to the dorms called for a quick change of clothing and then back to the cafeteria to grab a boxed sandwich/dinner before boarding the buses to the Southend/Brighton League Cup match away at Southend.

Estimated time for travel was quoted in the 1 hr 45 min to 2 hr range.  Things looked to be ok, and then we hit traffic.  Not just traffic, massive amounts of traffic.  The GPS was estimating it would take over a 90 minutes for the final 38 miles of the journey to the stadium.  That increased to as much as 2 hours because of a car accident on the highway.

We had to make the decision to turn back, as there was no way we were making it to the game even by halftime.  We were also receiving text messages from one of the families (who left Lancing 1 hour before we did) saying they were moving maybe 1 mile in an hour's time.  Other emails to us were warning of no movement on the highway at all for spells of 15-30 minutes.

By the time we stopped at the service area on the way back, Chris and I could barely get out of the car as we were jammed in the back of a teeny minivan for over 3 hours with minimal leg room.  I'm not quite sure how we drew the short straw!

In the end, turning back was the sensible decision as we would not have gotten home until midnight, and we have to depart the college at 8am for our big London Excursion tomorrow, visiting Niketown and many of the tourist sites in the city!

View photos here.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Day 8: August 10th

Well rested and ready to go!  The kids have 2 training sessions scheduled for today, as they have not had a training session since Thursday, and have not played since the Manchester games on Friday.  Busy week ahead though, with matches scheduled for Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday for our group.

Today's schedule includes training 10am-12pm, again 2-3:30pm, and then a trip over to visit the AMEX: Brighton & Hove Albion's American Express Community Stadium.  In addition to visiting the pro shop for more souvenirs, the kids will receive a tour of the stadium.

We visited the pro shop first as they were due to close at 5pm.  From that point on, all you could see was blue and white in our group - so many jerseys!  Most had their own name and number printed on the back.

The Brighton tour guides were great, so friendly and accommodating.  We broke into smaller groups (4) and they escorted us around the various areas of the stadium - lower level stands, luxury boxes, conference areas, upper level stands, press room, and even the home and away locker rooms.  At the end the kids were allowed to walk out the player's tunnel and sit in the bench areas.  The only place we couldn't go was on the actual field itself.  The tour ran for about an hour.

Yes, even the coaches took a selfie...

Dinner in the dining hall tonight before some down time in the dorms, then to the Player's Lounge to watch the Man City game at 8pm.  The kids need their sleep tonight before their 3rd matches of the trip tomorrow!

View photos from today here.

Day 7: August 9th

A change to today's schedule (originally training in the morning, swimming in the afternoon) brought a morning session of fun activities with the kids split into 4 "teams" of mixed age groups, boys and girls.  This is part of their team competitions that have been running all week with trivia challenges, kickball games, and today's event:  Quick Cricket.

Its really easy to see the friendships between all the kids now, with all the players looking after each other and mixing within groups.

After lunch, the kids boarded a bus for the quick ride down to Brighton Pier (20 minutes).  Great place for the kids - complete with arcades, carnival rides, and loads of ice cream/candy/souvenir shops.  Some enjoyed every ride at the pier, others chose to stay in the arcade playing a wide assortment of video games.

As a comparison for the folks at home, the arcade part reminded me a lot of Fun Spot at Weirs Beach, with the rides being a much smaller version of Canobie Lake Park.

Walking along the pier to where all the excitement was, you couldn't help notice the dozens of seagulls hovering overhead looking for a free lunch, and they would swoop down to steal food from your hand if you weren't careful.  The beaches consisted of small smooth pebbles/rocks, no sand at all.

Score one for the seagulls - one of them managed to poop on Aliyah's head.  The girls told me all about it last night and had photos to show me (so gross!).

The group stayed at the Pier until 6pm, then headed back to campus for dinner at the dining hall.  Its safe to say they are all well rested and ready for training this coming week!  View photos from today here.