Total Soccer Cayman’s Under-9 team this month completed a trip to England where it went toe-to-toe with some of the UK’s top football academies.
The tour included several friendlies and participation in the U-9 Foundation Phase Tournament in Oakham, England, where Total Soccer finished fifth out of eight teams while facing Premier League, Championship, League One and Two academies.
“The U-9 team had a very successful and memorable tour and the experience and exposure gained will be valuable in their personal growth as soccer players as well as growth for the club,” Total Soccer Cayman Head Coach Peter Reijn said. “The U-9s again demonstrated that with the appropriate vision, mindset, commitment and training approach, it is possible to perform consistently at an academy level.”
Total Soccer opened its trip with a friendly match on 9 April where it took a 4-0 win over Aylestone Park, helping the team build momentum for the tournament.
The team played a total of 16 matches in the Foundation Phase tournament with
four wins, three losses and nine draws in cold, windy and rainy conditions. Academy
teams from Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest, AFC Wimbledon, Colchester United,
Shrewsbury Town, and Plymouth Argyle also participated, with Total Soccer topping
Crystal Palace 1-0 in a group stage match.
After the tournament, Total Soccer played against a formidable West Ham United U-9 team, falling 7-6 in a fast-paced match where the players demonstrated great teamwork and displayed individual skills and talent, which was applauded by the West Ham United coaches given that team comes from a small island in the Caribbean.
After a stadium tour of Wembley, the team took on U-9 teams from Arsenal and Watford at Arsenal Academy’s Hale End training ground. Playing in a shorter, five- versus-five format, Total Soccer delivered very competitive matches and only lost by very slim margins. Again, their skills and competitiveness were applauded by the academy coaches.
The U-9 team’s success comes on the heels of the Total Soccer Cayman U-11’s impressive performance against Premier League academies in October 2022.