Chesterfield’s U10 and 11 teams rounded off their 2016/17 campaign with a successful tournament in Belgium last weekend.
Both teams put in a string of impressive performances at the FCV Dender International Tournament where they competed against the likes of Belgian giants Anderlecht.
Lead coach for the development phase Darren Molloy was extremely proud of the boys’ efforts in what were tough conditions.
He said: “It was fantastic; probably the best standard of tournament the club has been in, probably ever to be honest.
“Playing in 34 degrees isn’t ideal for football; especially when they're not used to it, however, the lads stuck at it, took in plenty of water and gave it a right good go."
Despite several impressive victories, both the Spireites teams were unable to progress to the latter stages of their respective tournaments, but their efforts were not in vain – as they finished high enough to secure another invite to next year’s tournament.
“They both did fantastic,” Molloy said.
“Both teams won half of the games they played in, which was excellent over the course of the weekend, while they finished high enough to get them some medals and retain an invitational status for next year which we wish to do!”
While the tournament proved both different and memorable for the young Spireites in terms of the opposition they came up against, the atmosphere was also much different from what they experience during the regular season.
Molloy explained: “The culture was a massive difference and a great experience for our boys to play in, with a lot of fans, flags and lots of noise and music when the goals went in!
“It was quite different to what they’re used to and for kids to play in that is absolutely amazing.
“There was even a fans village outside, so that just shows how big the tournament is, it was great for the parents to socialise and mix, the weather for them was nice to be able to watch football in the sun.
“It’s important that the parents mix and get to know each other, it helps the boys if the parents socialise and get on as well. So overall everyone it was a brilliant tournament.”
So just how good was the tournament from a player’s perspective? It’s fair to say the lads all enjoyed it.
Molloy joked: “They were asking me on the way back ‘are we going next year?’
“We scored a lot of goals, with a couple of absolute 'worldies' included, which is brilliant.
“In terms of their experiences, they played in a stadium, they played Anderlecht they played FC Lockeren and we quite a few other big clubs over the course of the weekend.
“By all accounts the boys have asked themselves, what they did and what can we try and do to get better and be closer to them, especially the Anderlecht boys, it was a pleasure to see them playing and they certainly took a lot of lessons from it.”
The players and coaching staff will now enjoy a break before coming back to training in August, but before that the players and their families will get the chance to reflect on a successful season at their presentation evening tomorrow night.
Molloy added: “It will be great to get everyone together and a there’ll be a couple awards to give out, as well as a couple videos to celebrate and bring down the curtain on what’s been a fantastic season.”