August 3, 2011
MANCHESTER – It’s been a busy but fantastic couple of days since you last heard from us.
The boys have settled really well in to the tournament base and all the teams are now here and going through their final preparations for the World Finals.
Yesterday morning saw the boys get their first taste of Carrington – the Manchester United first team and youth training centre. It goes without saying that the facility is absolutely top class and the surroundings inspired the players as we put them through their paces in a sharp one-hour training session. The energy levels and sharpness are coming at just the right time for us and an excellent performance throughout training left the players buzzing and looking forward to the next time they kick a ball on the Carrington grounds on Wednesday when the real action kicks off.
We shared a bus with the Orlando Pirates from South Africa and trained next to them in the same training slot. It’s a great experience in itself for the boys to mix with and see the different styles and cultures that are coming together here now. The Pirates sing together and dance everywhere they go bringing a unique colour and flare to everything they do.
After lunch at our University base we were back on the bus with the Pirates and off to visit the theatre of dreams and home of Manchester United– Old Trafford. Widely recognised as one of the most famous football stadiums in the world, this impressive venue steeped in rich history had our players dreaming of stepping out on the hallowed turf in Saturdays final and the possibility of one day playing professional football and being able to regularly run out on the Old Trafford pitch.
Today has seen us train again this morning at the university before checking out the centre of the City and we have just arrived back from the opening ceremony and live draw held at Carrington. Bobby Charlton was the guest of honour and our captain Michael Den Heijer got to meet him as he went up on stage to place our name in the pot.
Young United first team players Federico Macheda and Ben Amos were present to draw the teams and place them in the groups. We all held our breath and nervously waited until we were finally called out as the fourth team in group C. And what a group it is!
Group C – Chelsea (English Champion), PSV Eindhoven (Dutch – European Champion), Kyoto Purple Sanga (Japan – Asian Champion), Onehunga Sports (Pacific Champion) and Boca Juniors (Argentina – South American Champion).
The boys are absolutely buzzing with the draw. On paper it is the toughest draw of the lot with some of the pre tournament favourites all pooled together. A dream draw and we can’t wait.
First kick off is against Kyoto 10.30 am Wednesday, local time.