Last week, the Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) 14 Years squad returned home from competing in the Tokyo U-14 International Youth Football Tournament from May 1-6 in Tokyo, Japan.
It was another fantastic experience for the group of young players, playing in a very difficult group which included the eventual champions of the competition Palmeiras, as well as Tottenham Hotspur and two Japanese academies Tokyo Training Centre and Iwate.
The NNSWF squad was selected from identified players from all over the region including a number of players from the Metro TSP program. These players were selected for this squad from the previous identification camp in January this year.
The group stage was played over the first 2 days of the competition of which NNSWF finished fourth in the group and was then pooled with the three other fourth placed finishers including J-League clubs Kashiwa Reysol and Tokyo Verdy, along with Japanese academy Miyagi.
Overall the squad finished 16 out of 20 teams, but NNSWF Technical Advisor Leo Bertos praised the side for their efforts and stepping up to the challenge many opponents possessed.
“This tournament helps to provide us with a real gauge to see how identified players are progressing in our local National Premier Leagues environment compared to players of the same age in professional clubs and academies from all over the world,” Bertos said.
“It is always a very challenging tournament to compete in for any team from our region. The calibre of clubs and academies who attend are very high which often makes for very difficult and challenging games for our players.
“Results were much closer this year as the team was able to compete physically however, our players found it very difficult to make good decisions and execute the majority of their skills successfully and especially when under pressure.”
Game 1 v Iwate (3-1 win)
Game 2 v Tottenham (0-2 loss)
Game 3 v Tokyo Training Centre (2-3 loss)
Game 4 v Palmeiras (0-5 loss)
Game 5 v Kashiwa Reysol (0-2 loss)
Game 6 v Miyagi (3-5 loss)