SPORT students from Stratford College have been put through their paces on a once-in-a-lifetime football and fitness tour in Portugal.
The five-day trip gave 19 young athletes the enviable opportunity to develop their football and fitness whilst experiencing new cultures and training techniques.
Throughout the activity-packed tour, the students participated in fitness training sessions and intense professional-level football coaching at the world-famous Benfica training ground in Lisbon. Even relaxing evenings were ruled offside as football matches were scheduled against Portuguese teams Atletico Clube Portugal and Porto Salvo Atletico Clube.
While attending Benfica Academy, the athletes were taken on a tour of the first-class facilities by resident coaches, who took time out of their busy schedules to pass on their knowledge.
The students learnt about the professional players’ training schedules and discovered techniques and tactics to improve their chances of being scouted by clubs back in the UK.
Dan Hollies, 18, from Henley, was thrilled to have taken part in the “awesome, mind-blowing experience”.
Dan, whose ambition is to work as a football coach, found the trip particularly informative. He said: “The Benfica coaches work at such a high pace. They always keep training flowing and pack so much in.
“I definitely want to use this technique in my own coaching to get the most out of my sessions.”
Harry Wilson, 18, from Bidford, is captain of the college football team and aims to work as a nutritionist for a football club.
Commenting on the training they received and their tour around Benfica’s stadium, he voiced the feelings of the whole group: “It was amazing to be in the same training ground as their first team who play Champions League football. They’re one of the best teams in the world!”
The students were accompanied by sport lecturer Amanda Gayler who had this to say about the trip: “I’d like to extend our sincere thanks to everyone who made the football tour such an enjoyable and successful experience, in particular those at Benfica, for their warm welcome and for taking the time and trouble to coach and advise our students.
“They have not just gained a great deal in practical terms, about fitness training and football techniques, but have been inspired and motivated by the coaches and return to the college determined to put into practice what they have learnt.”