Finn Linder and Will Antoniuk from the Blizzard SC04 boys team had a fantastic UK experience training and testing their skill with the Wigan FC academy in the UK. This trip was arranged by our boy’s technical director Brendan O’Connell. Brendan not only played for Wigan in his professional days during the late nineties, but he was also a coach for their academy and reserve teams. Brendan said of the experience, “It is important for our players to gauge where they are in their development with teams in Europe. This experience will give the boys a chance to test their abilities in unfamiliar surroundings, providing them with a physical football challenge as well as character building being placed in a new team, in a new country! I look forward to creating more opportunities like these for our Blizzard boys program in the future.”
The boys began their experience with a full day of training with a combined U13 / U14 squad at Wigan’s Christopher Park training ground, with immaculate pitches. The boys mixed in well with their new team mates and enjoyed the banter with the UK lads! The next day they took the team bus to Manchester United’s Carrington Lane training ground for a game against the U13 Man U academy. The Man U facility was amazing, with pitches like carpet! The facility was under top security as the first team were training as well. The boys played well against the Man U side coming home with a 4 to 1 win.
Thursday was a day off after the game, with the boys well rested to resume training on the Friday. They trained for the day with the U14 boys team working on passing, shooting and set plays. The final challenge for the boys was a game away in Coventry with Will and Finn joining the Wigan U14s. They took the two hour journey on the team bus and arrived to the Coventry training ground. The game was more fast paced and physical than the Man U game, but the boys held their own, helping Wigan to a 4 to 3 victory!
Will said of the experience, “The best part of the trip was seeing how fast the game was compared to here and of course beating Man U at their training ground!”
Finn agreed with Will, he said, “Winning the game against the Man U boys academy team was awesome and also seeing how soccer in England was much tougher and more physical than here. I also loved going to my first Premier league games and watching Manchester United play at Old Trafford and my favorite team, Arsenal F.C in person.
A huge thank you to Gregor, Jake, Sarah and the whole Wigan team for having the boys and making them feel so welcome. Thank you to Brendan for organizing this trip, the 04 boys team are currently planning a 10 day UK tour for Spring Break 2018!