Over the last week, Crystal Palace under 14s have been in Kuming, China to compete in the Mediterranean Champion Cup, which features 16 teams from China, South America, USA and Europe – including current holders Valencia.
Palace were the only English side competing and played one group match per day from Sunday. After three matches, the Eagles won once and lost twice in a tournament against physically more developed and experienced players - an experience that will benefit them immensely as they progress as footballers.
Mark Newson led the squad there as coach of the team (his broader role is that of Lead Phase Coach for the U13-U16 age groups), and he believes it has been a fantastic opportunity for the team to develop. He said:
“To have this opportunity to go to somewhere like China is amazing. We’ve been to Italy, Holland, Latvia before, but this is a great experience over 10 days. It’s not just the football – it’s such an experience for them being away from home as a group together and competing. We’ll have a day’s sight-seeing so the guys can get some culture inside them as well!”
The squad was made up of a mixture of under 13s and under 14s, with the majority of the players coming from south London. Still out there, the boys have a small amount of time to take in some of the historic and cultural sites of interest nearby as well as looking to play a handful of friendlies to truly make the most out of the trip.
In their first game of the competition, the Eagles faced a talented Hebei China Fortune side that beat them 2-0. Their next clash came against Guangzhou FA and saw Palace triumph 2-0 with plenty of possession and chances. Their last match was a tough test against Dalian Istar H&C in their last game of Group D and saw the south Londoners fall 3-0.
The lads put in a great shift on the pitch throughout their time in China, however, and we wish them a great few days to come and safe flight back!
Squad: Wilson, Bakare, Holmes, Cooper, Skyers, Antle, Eastwood, Gibbard, Grante, Grey, Candenas, Marjoram, Marroni, Nelson, Williams, McKnight.