A combined Cambridge United Under 14/15 group recently participated in the Pape Cup, Magdeburg, which was our first visit having received an invitation into this prestigious tournament for Under 15’s. The tournament involved most clubs from the German Bundesliga, so the level was always going to be extremely high.
Our first experience was incredible. The standard was as high as I expected it to be, and despite the discussions preparing the players mindset for day one, they soon understood the difference in quality that they were facing in comparison to normal after three minutes of our first game with Borrusia Dortmund!
Throughout our stay we lived in The Plaza Hotel and were looked after with great care, excitement and efficiency by the tournament staff. Having travelled around a host of European tournaments in the past seven years, in terms of organisation, this was the best I’ve experienced. The social media updates, atmosphere, time keeping and detail around changing facilities, warm up areas and food was superb! A truly great experience!
We flew from Stansted to Berlin on Friday morning and on arrival were taken for lunch at a quaint restaurant on the outskirts of Magdeburg. We later, having settled into the hotel, took the squad for a walk around town and after a team meeting after dinner, the lads got an early night ready for the tournament which commenced the following morning in the main arena.
Throughout the weekend together with the team discussions in the evening, we had covered a lot of ground, which this group seemed to embrace and utilise the information provided. They are skilful and often successful at home in our games programme and whilst this is positive, they must never take their eye off the future, the next step! This was a different challenge, an exciting one and one they would relish, remember and learn from.
Our group of players are professional, independent and are hungry young footballers. Mental toughness is challenged time and time again, and within these indoor games it enabled all to participate outside the normal comfort zones. The ability to stay calm under pressure, work early enough to find space and have 360 degree awareness were all areas where we didn’t match up to our Day One opponents. As an education, our players couldn’t have asked for better. Being beaten by and challenged against such a top level is far better for their learning than finding an easy tournament to win.
We were result successful on day two of the tournament when the standard of the opposition was of a lesser level. We were placed in the best group of the tournament, pitting us against the giants of Germany. Again, this is better than playing weaker sides, ensuring a route through to then only play one of the big teams in the knockout stages. The draw guaranteed us four great games.
Game 1 v Borussia Dortmund Lost 3-0
Game 2 v Wolfsburg Lost 4-0
Game 3 v Bayern Munich Lost 5-3
Game 4 v FC Koln Lost 4-1
Game 1 v Burger SC (Qualifying Team) Won 2-1
Game 2 v Hansa Rostock Won 5-2
Game 3 v SV Magdeburg Drew 1-1
The Magdeburg supporters were in full voice as around 300 of them crowded behind the goal and created an incredible atmosphere in the tournament. It’s worth a look on Youtube to see the quality of the tournament and the atmosphere I am talking about – seach for ‘Magdeburg Supporters Pape Cup 2013’ or click HERE
This weekend will have enabled our players to see the top level of Under-15 Indoor football in Germany for their own eyes whilst playing. If they’re serious about making it as professionals then they will think really hard about the whole weekend and see how much work there is to do. If the tour has been a success, the boys will show an improved level of technique and understanding of where their individual game needs improvements. Alongside that the best players will have further increased their knowledge on professionalism, preparation, managing their body during tournament football, team skills and been made aware of the obstacles ahead that will try to distract them.
Technically the need to have early pictures of the game before receiving the ball, our protection skills under pressure and the ability to receive and pass on various surfaces is crucial.
I look forward to seeing their improvements in the coming months.
Tom Metcalfe, Matthew Moore, William Gardner, Daniel Hobbs, Dylan Williams, Jake Chambers-Shaw, Matthew Foy, Sam Lawn and Dominic Mason
Mark Bonner (Youth Team Coach) Kevin Flynn (Academy U15/16 Coach) and Ant Gentle (Physio)
2. Bayern München
3. Hertha BSC
4. FC St. Pauli
5. Eintracht Frankfurt
6. FC Köln
7. Hamburger SV
8. Borussia Mönchengladbach
9. Borussia Dortmund
10. Karlsruher SC
11. SpVgg Greuther Fürth
12. FC Nürnberg
13. Bayer Leverkusen
14. VfL Wolfsburg
15. Hannover 96
16. Schalke 04
17. Cambridge United
18. Hansa Rostock
19. FC Magdeburg
20. Burger BC
Youth Team Coach