6 September 2018
Over the summer break, 17 pupils from across the Abingdon Foundation had the opportunity to represent the South Central Lions Independent Schools representative football side at the Gothia Cup in Sweden. Please see some accounts from the boys on their experiences below:
Felix Kind – 3rd Year
The Gothia cup was an unbelievable experience. The week started off with two days of training, after which I was appointed captain of my team, which meant I had to swap flags with the opposition every game and chat with our coach about the team. The tournament kicked off with the opening ceremony, in front of 52,000 people in the Ullevi Stadium. It was amazing and we walked round the stadium bearing the English flag. We then had group games, and due to the struggle of putting a team together in two days, we lost two and drew one, in a couple of extremely unlucky games but we managed to score a few goals, and with me being centre forward, we felt good going into knockouts.
The round of 64 came up the next day and we won against another English side (having played a Portuguese and two Swedish teams) 6-1. Our first win, and a very convincing one at that. That evening we played round of thirty two, with a three nil win, and a goal and an assist for me. Going into the next morning we had good momentum and confidence, and we came back from 2-1 down to win 5-2. This highlighted our hard work and team ethic, with myself getting two goals and two assists. That afternoon we faced the quarter final. Sadly we suffered defeat and this brought an end to an amazing experience which I shared with four fellow Abingdon pupils, and one I’m sure we’ll never forget.
Sam Dominic – 3rd Year
My team were very good and came second in their group by winning one 2-1, drawing one 1-1 and losing one 3-0. But then unfortunately got knocked out by a very strong and quick Mexican team 5-1 in the round of 64 in the A-plate. This year I captained the team and got top goalscorer for a second year running.
Callum Aiken – 3rd Year
It had been a long time coming; trials last November, training camp at Easter but finally on Friday 13 July at 4pm the flight touched down in Gothenburg for the Gothia World Youth Cup. Excitement levels were high as we met up with the rest of the squads that had arrived on other flights from Gatwick and Heathrow.
Day one started with a solid 3 hour training session. Ollie our coach and Phil the Physio were awesome – they worked us hard and I learnt loads, we were tired but couldn’t wait for the next session before watching England vs. Belgium. Day two followed a similar pattern before the opportunity to watch the World Cup Final!
Day three saw our first game. My match finished up 1-1 against a Swedish team, it was probably a fair result I was pleased and really enjoyed it. At around 7pm we headed to the Ulevi Stadium – a huge Olympic arena – for the official opening ceremony. As we waited outside the atmosphere was electric with all the different countries singing and dancing. As we entered the stadium, fireworks went off and we sat down to the side of the centre stage and just stared in awe at the enormous crowds. The show was spectacular and it was a privilege to represent the English teams in the parade of nations – 78 different nations with 1731 teams were there. It was a truly amazing experience and I felt really proud. I’ve got a few videos to keep!
Day four. It was a hot, hot day for our next two matches – a 0-0 draw vs another Swedish team and then 1-1 vs Sweden again! The first match was hard and we should have won with most of the possession but the ball just would not go in the net. The second match we had to come from behind and score in the very last minute – a lesson in not underestimating the opposition.
Day five. A really early start for our last pool match against a team from Lebanon who had won all of their games to date. We really focused and worked incredibly hard to win 5-1 – it was brilliant, we were so happy and we had got through to the knock out stage of the ‘A’ pool – a fantastic achievement to make it to the round of 16.
Later that day we had our first knock out game against a really big, physical and well drilled Bulgarian team. It was an entertaining match for the parents and spectators, the final score was 2-1 and I so nearly scored in the last minute but their goalie denied us the penalty shoot out.
With our tournament over, we spent the remainder of the time in Gothenburg sightseeing, visiting the theme park and then watching some of the other semi-finals at The Heden Centre – the tournament HQ.