The Cardiff City Academy recently took to the sunny climates of France, with the 2002 year group competing in the inaugural ‘Blanc Mensil Paris Showcase Tournament’ in Paris. The team, made up of U12 and U13 players, challenged themselves against talented, foreign opposition including teams from Italy, Portugal, France and the UK.
During the opening day, the squad successfully qualified for the semi-final stages, after positive results against local opposition, ACBB, Blanc Mensil and most notably French Ligue One club, OGC Nice. Two new recruits to the Academy programme were already amongst the goals, as Cavan Williams made an instant impact on the tournament with an early brace and Yusuf Ali showed some instinctive finishing to secure a place in the semi-finals.
As part of the event, the group toured some of Paris’ most prestigious sights, including the Arc de Triumph and The Eiffel Tower.
The semi-final draw, placed our young stars against Premier League opposition in West Ham United.
The young Bluebirds were well aware of the threats posed by the Hammers after a fantastic contest during the Premier League International Tournament in the summer of 2014, where the West Londoners narrowly edged it, 2-1.
City took an early lead when Eli King converted from the penalty spot. The team comfortably held onto their lead well into the second half, before a quick-fire double from the Hammers, six minutes from time, meant it was the West London side who progressed, with the young Bluebirds putting in an excellent performance.
There was still plenty to play for in the tournament, as our young team competed against fellow semi-finalists, Hellas Verona of Italy’s Serie A. The highly physical Italians’ struggled to impose themselves on the game, as Ryan Kavanagh struck the Bluebirds into a deserved lead. Verona could only rescue a draw after a late, set-piece surge forced the ball over the line of Luc Rees’ goal.
Penalty Shoot-Outs continue to be a lottery in the footballing world, with Verona securing third position after spot kicks. It was a courageous effort from the young Cardiff players to reach the semi-finals, finishing in fourth spot after an eventful, and memorable tour.
Lead Youth Development Coach, Dane Facey, shared his thoughts on an inspiring weekend for Cardiff City Academy, stating, “These life-changing experiences are sure to play an important part in the successful development of our future City stars. Playing foreign opposition, adapting to different climates, being away from home for the first time and adjusting to a variety of styles of play on the continent can only help improve our players to become the very best.
“The players have interacted, challenged and represented our programme with the Cardiff City passion, hunger and willingness to achieve and succeed.”
CARDIFF CITY SQUAD: Luc Rees, Cavan Williams, Taylor Jones, Rubin Colwill, Frazer Thomas, Jack Masrani, Eli King, Hywel Davies, Ryan Kavanagh, Owen Pritchard, Yusuf Ali, Andzejs Dubjaga, Ethan Vaughan.