Challenger's 14-member squad arrived in the Netherlands on the 24th of March, just in time to visit the EURO 2020 qualification match between the Netherlands and Germany in the Johan Cruijff Arena. Despite the defeat of the Dutch national team, it was an unforgettable experience for the American guests. From Monday to Friday, an intensive football schedule was planned for the young talents from Cleveland. In just five days, seven training sessions and three friendly games were completed. Challenger faced the Dutch sides BVV Barendrecht (Official Feyenoord Academy partner) and Excelsior. Both games resulted in a loss for the Americans. The third game was played against their peers (04’s and 05’s) of the Japanese Sylphid FC Chukyo. This match ended in a 0-0 draw.
‘This is an important experience in the early football career of these players’, said International Development Coach Luka Lalić. ‘They gain insight into the level of European Academy players in the same age level. This forms a benchmark for these players where they see the level that they need to pursue in their future careers.’ The accompanying coach from Cleveland, Oliver Condell, can build on the insights gained during this team trip in the future: ‘I’ve gained vision into the improvement options for each individual player. We will use these development areas during our training sessions back in the States’.
In addition to footballing activities, team building and sightseeing activities were also done in the weekends. Besides the match between the Netherlands and Germany, two Eredivisie matches were visited. One of these matches was FC Utrecht vs. Feyenoord. After an exciting game, the group from Cleveland saw FC Utrecht grab a 3-2 win in the dying seconds of the game. The team returned home to the United States on 1 April. March was a busy month for Feyenoord International, partly because of the team trips of St. Louis Scott Gallagher and Team Challenger FC. In early April the International Development Coaches will travel to Singapore for another Feyenoord camp. This Feyenoord camp will be hosted in collaboration with the local Shoot Football Academy.