Academy coach Darren Molloy praised the attitude and commitment shown by the club’s U12s following their Stockhausen Junior Cup adventure in Dusseldorf, Germany last weekend.
The tournament was made up of 40 professional clubs from Europe including Bundesliga giants Werder Bremen, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach.
“It was brilliant,” Molloy said. “I’m really proud of the lads and I’m sure their parents and the club are as well.
“It would be unfair to pick out individuals because everyone performed at least a seven out of ten at all times over the weekend.”
Despite losing the first game of the tournament (1-0 to KSV Hessen Kessel), they still managed to finish joint-top of their group, after going unbeaten in their final three games on Saturday.
The Spireites beat both SV Darmstadt 98 (whose home town is Chesterfield’s twin town) and SC West Koln 1-0 and followed those victories with a 0-0 draw with Fortuna Dusseldorf.
It meant that the Spireites progressed to the next day of the tournament, where the format was shortened to 20 teams.
Molloy said: “To react to that and finish top of the group with so called stronger teams to play was brilliant character from the boys.
“We played teams which we’re potentially better than us at times, so they have to find a way of still coming out and playing.”
“On Sunday we beat a massive club in Werder Bremen and we knocked them out beating them 1-0 as well, which is something the kids will remember for the rest of their lives I’m sure.”
Although, beating Bremen, two 0-0 draws with FC Koln and FC St Pauli weren’t enough to see Chesterfield progress further in the Gold Cup.
Molloy believes the trip overall was a success both on and off the field.
“We split them into small groups, with each coach taking them to a supermarket to advise them what sort of stuff they should be looking for, to help them cope over the weekend physically,” He admitted.
“But we don’t want to tell them what they can and can’t eat.
“They’re making their own choices and decisions with a little bit of advice which we’re giving them.”
The trip to Germany also enabled an opportunity for bonding time as a team.
Molloy said: “We had a big meeting room in the hotel which was brilliant and we did a tactical team exercise for match prep before we did the game stuff with them.
“They had elements of fun, elements of life skills and elements of the football part which was the most important.”
Molloy isn’t new to these European tournaments away from Britain although fellow coach Elliott Flowers is.
“I work with Elliot and I’m also friends with him, it’s not my first time going on these trips but it was for him, so I kind of took the lead on the football front with him supporting,” Molloy continued. “He led all the activities off the pitch and he was really good at it and is a step ahead of me on it.
“I think the kids definitely benefited from having coaches who had two very different styles.”
There are further trips for the academy planned in the New Year to Ireland and Holland. And while the trip to Germany was a success, Molloy expects the academy to maintain their focus and push on starting with matches against Bradford City on Sunday.
He added: “It’s back to normality for them now, but we have another trip to Ireland in May which again is invitation only.
“We managed to take pretty much every age group last season which was a lot, I’m not sure if we will do that amount, we’ve definitely got on to Ireland and one to Holland which again could see two age groups going over there.
“We’ll see which else pops up because they are brilliant and something which we want to stay a part of.”