BAA director of football Kenny Thompson. *File photo
BAA director of football Kenny Thompson. *File photo

FRIDAY, AUGUST 5: Bermuda Athletic Association’s (BAA) grassroots footballers will get a “real feel” for what it takes to aspire to the professional ranks during this month’s whirlwind tour of Europe.

BAA’s Under-ten and Under-14 youth teams left for Holland, Belgium and Germany on Wednesday.

While there they will train and play in mini tournaments and observe professional teams such as Ajax in action on the pitch.

BAA’s Under-16 youth team will tour Holland as well where they will train and play against local opposition before departing for Barcelona, Spain to compete against local opposition and train under the direction of Barcelona youth coaches.

The Under-16s leave for their trip next week.

While in Spain they will also attend this month’s Super Cup clash pitting Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Accompanying the 45 youth players on the tour of Europe are BAA director of football Kenny Thompson and coaches Maurice Lowe and Malcolm Raynor.

Thompson said the primary objective of the exercise is to expose players to various amateur and professional levels to enable them to sample what top football is like.

He added: “This is a way of exposing the players to a real football culture and top football cultures.

“The infrastructure in Europe is on a high level and the facilities are always good, the opponents are always good and the training activities that we partake in are always good.

“We will go to Ajax and watch the young players train, and so our ten-year-olds will get to see how Ajax’s ten-year-old players train and so forth.

“This gives them a feel for what the training behaviour is like for an aspiring professional footballer comparable to what they see on television in the making. It’s one thing to see it on TV and it looks so easy. But many local players get a false sense for what is actually taking place on the pitch, and so for us going on this sort of trip gives the players a feel for what it takes to play football at that level.

“As you can imagine our opponents are often very good players.

“They behave like professionals technically, tactically and psychologically even though they are very young.

“So exposing our players to this gives them a greater understanding and helps to accelerate their football and cultural development."