A YOUTH football team whose membership is drawn from local clubs, has returned victorious from a prestigious international tournament in Spain.
The under 15 South Belfast Youth League (SBYL) squad, whose players include boys from Bangor, Newtownards, Portavogie and Holywood, won the plate competition in their age group at the Costa Blanca Cup earlier this month.
Also travelling to the week-long tournament was the the SBYL under 13 squad, who made it to the quarter finals in their group, having beaten Icelandic team IR Reykjavik 8-0 in their first game, drawn 2-2 with Spanish side Calpe FC, but lost out in their next two games with AD Villa de Madrid and Selección Promesas ND.
The under 15s began the tournament with a 1-1 draw against Spanish side Top Soccer Player, followed by a massive 18-0 win against AS Sillingy B from France.
Despite a 1-0 defeat in the semi finals against Selección Promesas ND, the SBYL under 15s beat another Spanish side, Agullent FC 5-1, to take home the plate.
Scorers for the under 15s throughout the tournament included Bangor FC youth players Daniel Hannan with three, Eamon Perry with two and Jamesy Morrison with one. All games were played in various venues in Costa Blanca, including Benidorm.
Coach John Bailie was naturally delighted and proud of the achievements of both teams, and recalled how the 2007 side – the under 15s – had been selected two years ago to take part in the USA Cup.
Covid ‘scuppered these plans’, John said, but the squad remained together and went on to win the Kennedy Cup last December, to become All Ireland champions – the first team from Northern Ireland to ever win the competition.
John added: “Over the last two years the squad continued to play together and grew as a group. Taking part in the Kennedy Cup meant travelling for five to six weeks, having to go as far as Dublin and Limerick.
“When the squad came together for the American tournament, they were under 13s; over the two years they have grown into young men. They should be very proud of what they have achieved.”
The SBYL teams comprise players from various local clubs, and come
from different communities. Included in the plate winning and under 13 squads were Bangor FC youth players, Jamesy Morrison, Charlie Stevenson and Caden McKee; Rudi Little, Watson Kingham (both Holywood), Ryan Bailie (Portavogie) and Ards Rangers youth players, Jack Quail, Charlie Heron and Saul Harvey.
The remainder of the tournament the boys enjoyed a trip to the water park along with trips to bowling and shopping in Benidorm, as well as futsal and foot tennis matches at their hotel.