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CRYSC International 12U Girls Visit England

Published on: May 30, 2024
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In March, a group of 18 Rapids Youth Soccer 12U girls, hailing from various CRYSC regions, embarked on an extraordinary expedition through England. Accompanied by their families, they explored the vibrant cities of London, Manchester, and Liverpool. Guided by CRYSC staff members Jeff Oleck, Regan Brown, Lexi Rudolph, Nicole Nickerson, Erin Wall, and Will Juniper, along with WorldStrides tour guides Miguel and Pablo, the entourage of 59 travelers delved into the heart of football’s birthplace over eight unforgettable days.

Craving Action at Craven Cottage

Upon their arrival after a strenuous 10-hour flight, the group wasted no time diving into their first professional match experience at Craven Cottage in West London. Despite the majority enduring a sleepless journey, the anticipation soared as Fulham FC triumphed over Tottenham Hotspur FC with a resounding 3-0 victory, shaking up Tottenham’s league aspirations and marking a historic win for Fulham after not beating the Spurs in over 10+ league meetings.

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It Was A Super Day

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The following morning, the group ventured to Richmond Park, London, for their inaugural friendly matches against Richmond Park FC. Amidst quintessential English weather, unfamiliar to the Colorado-based players accustomed to sunshine and dryness, the girls had a blast sliding through mud, playing under the rain, and forging bonds with their local counterparts. Post-matches, the Richmond Park FC players expressed curiosity about the U.S. and voiced their eagerness to visit Colorado – stay tuned!

Later in the day, the group went to Brisbane Road in North London to witness a Women’s Super League showdown between Tottenham Hotspur Women and Leicester City Women. Check out this video of the girls giving their predictions before the match!  Following an intense match, Tottenham secured a 1-0 victory, captivating the girls as they gathered for pictures and autographs with the players pitchside.

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Gaining a New Perspective

The next morning, the group took a break from soccer and visited important landmarks in London, such as the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge. While visiting the attractions, the girls gained more insight into the monarchy of Great Britain, seeing “beefeaters,” traditional Tower of London guards, and touring exhibits. Most notably, the crown jewels on display in the Tower of London garnered attention from the group for their price tag and importance to British culture.

After sightseeing, the girls traveled back to North London to the borough of Haringey for a training session led by the founder of the Haringey Girls Academy, Nationwide Building Society’s Mutual Respect Award winner, and 8-time ACES Tournament National Champion, Adem Ali. In the training session, Ali spent hours with the girls, emphasizing the importance of limiting turnovers, passing, and quickness both physically and mentally. The training session led to revelations from our CRYSC coaching staff, deciding to incorporate Ali’s training methods into their own upon return to the states.

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The Mecca of English Football & More Friendlies

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The last day in London started with a trip to Wembley Stadium, the mecca of English football. Wembley Stadium is a testament to English football’s rich history and enduring legacy. Originally built in 1923, the stadium has played host to countless historic moments, including England’s 1966 FIFA World Cup victory. Over the decades, Wembley has become synonymous with sporting greatness, serving as the iconic backdrop for memorable matches, legendary performances, and the collective dreams of football fans worldwide.

At Wembley, the girls received an all-access tour of the stadium, from testing the “echo” in the stadium, sitting in the dressing room, to wandering the tunnels where only famous football players and performers have walked before, the tour was special and a must-do experience for any lover of the sport.

After the tour, the group traveled to West London for a series of tournament-style friendlies at PowerLeague vs Manorcroft United and We Make Footballers (WMF) Girls Football Club. The matches were physical and proved to be a different sort of challenge for our 12U Girls, but in the end, our side and the English side made an invaluable connection with WMF by discussing uniquely American destinations such as Chick-fil-A and Target. While the girls were unable to fathom that there was no American fast food in the UK, the English girls expressed their desire to shop at Target at least once in their lives.

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To the North!

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After an eventful four days in London, the group traveled to Manchester. Upon arrival in Manchester, the group stopped at the National Football Museum, where they learned about the rich history of the sport in England and how it is not only a sport for the British but a lifestyle.

The following morning, the group took a detour to Liverpool at the request of many Liverpool fans in the group. The stop included visiting Anfield, home of Liverpool FC. After Anfield, the group was given free time to explore the area, which included going to the Cavern Quarter for some of the staff members, a popular tourist area for its history surrounding the beginning of The Beatles, and their first mainstream performances as a group in the early 1960s.

In the evening, the group traveled to the small town of Bacup, just north of Manchester, for their last friendlies of the trip. Under the lights on an extremely cold and rainy night, the girls played two matches against local Haslingden Girls and Ladies FC. While the weather was cold, windy, and rainy, Haslingden’s hospitality was warm, with many staff members and parents bonding over hot chocolate with the Haslingden support staff.

On the final day of the trip, the group toured the infamous Old Trafford, home of Manchester United. Our knowledgeable tour guide gave us stadium size comparisons from DICKS Sporting Goods Park to Old Trafford and walked us to the dressing room, press room, into the tunnel, and onto the base level of the pitch. On the way, the tour guide learned of the group’s strong fandom with Liverpool, Manchester United’s rivals, and made sure not to ignore it while on the tour, often providing silly banter about the rivalry.

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Cheerio!

As our time in England came to an end, the memories we made remained vivid. From exciting matches to cultural outings to the buzz of Premier League and Women’s Super League action, each moment strengthened the connections among players, families, and coaches. As we said goodbye to England, we felt grateful for the unforgettable experiences we shared. Even though our trip is over, the lessons we learned and the friendships we formed will stay with us.

To the Rapids 12U girls and their families, thank you for being part of this extraordinary journey. The entire group was a pleasure to travel with, and our staff can’t wait to see you all again on the fields this summer. Stay tuned for more adventures from CRYSC International!

CRYSC international tours are a great way for players to experience soccer through the lens of a different culture. From playing local competitions, experiencing different environments, and seeing new sights, there’s so much to be gained from expanding one’s horizon and taking your game abroad. Visit the CRYSC international page for more information.

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