HOPWOOD Hall College’s Football Academy travelled to the Netherlands to defend their Eindhoven European Cup champions title.
The holders drafted in a number of new students to their squad because many of last year’s team had completed their studies and progressed into employment or university.
Despite the changes Hopwood still team impressed their coaches despite losing to Welsh side Barry FC and fellow English team, Maidstone FC.
“Last year we played mostly with lads we already saw around our first team,” explained 19-year-old James Gregory from Shaw, a level three sports student.
“This year was a different mix and we really enjoyed it. Getting to meet new people was as big a part of the trip as the actual football.
“We all really bonded and the memories will stay with us forever.
“Obviously, we would have liked to retain the cup, but the experience and the memories mean more than that.”
Hopwood’s defeat came after four successive wins against: South Africa’s Pietermaritzburg Schools FA, 1-0 and 2-0, Holland’s FC Oegsgeest 2-0 and Kent’s Pro Soccer Academy 2-0.
Hopwood Hall College’s Football Academy Head Coach, Rob Johnson, said: “The aim of the game is to win, the aim of the trip is to develop these young adults.
“Some of them may have never left Greater Manchester, so to go abroad with your friends and compete in a European football tournament is an amazing experience.
“They played some great football, but they have also been supportive of each other, bonded, socialised with students they might not normally do and have really grown as adults.
“I’m prouder of that than I am their performances on the pitch, as good as those performances were.”
Outside of the tournament, the students also had a tour of Ajax’s Johan Cruyff Arena and visited other parts of Amsterdam.