What a great weekend we had. We flew into Barcelona airport on Friday morning (day off school required 😀), then got a bus to the tournament venue in Salou, which was about 90 minutes away. We had to register all our players before the tournament started on Saturday and were each given a wristband, so that everyone knew we were legitimate players. What an amazing venue it is - 8 full size 3G pitches split in half for smaller-sided matches. There was a raised viewing area with food & drinks available, toilets, main office, etc. You could also walk around each pitch and spectate close up.
After registering, we checked in to our hotel about 15 minutes away. The Best Cambrils was a 4 star hotel, all the food was included for the trip; a great choice for breakfast, lunch & dinner. The hotel had a swimming pool (cold ⛄), pool tables, air hockey & table football. So we were all kept amused during any downtime. On Friday evening we went down to the beach to do some team bonding and footwork drills. We had great fun but also started to prepare for the tournament ahead.
There were 24 teams at our age group (B08) which were split into 4 min-leagues of 6 teams in each. We played our 1st 3 matches on Saturday, winning 2 and losing 1 to the eventual overall winners.
On Sunday morning we played our last 2 league matches but sadly lost them both. Our league was so tight, that if we had won our last game, we would have finished 2nd, but instead we finished 5th. In the afternoon, we had play-off matches to determine our final position out of the 24 teams, playing the other teams who finished 5th in their leagues. Again, we lost both (1 on a penalty shoot-out), meaning we ended up 20th out of 24 teams. Not great, but an awesome experience for us all of tournament football against some of the best teams in Europe.
The eventual winners of our age group were a French team called C.O. Pace, who beat Barcelona (!) 3-1 in the final. What a great match that was to watch. Such talented players; fit, strong and hungry to win. It made us eager to come back again next year to test ourselves once more.
Take a look at my goalkeeping highlights video from the Barcelona Cup tournament here;