WHILE Argyle’s senior squad are in Holland, finalising preparations for the new 2016-17 Sky Bet League Two season...
...Pilgrims’ youngsters will also be overseas, adding to their growing football experience.
The Argyle Academy are taking part in the Super Cup NI, formerly known as the Milk Cup, a prestigious competition held in Northern Ireland which attracts clubs from all around the globe. Past winners have included: Barcelona, Manchester United, Chelsea, Rangers, Newcastle United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Spartak Moscow, Fluminense, Corinthians, Everton, Maccabi Haifa and Guadalajara.
Indeed, the Pilgrims’14-15 year-olds who have been selected for this year’s Irish odyssey will play Rangers in the junior section of this year’s competition, after opening their campaign against Colombian side Aslet. Their third group game in three days will be against the local County Armagh team before they progress to a knockout finale, the status of which will be determined by where they finish in the group.
Winning is not, though, the sole objective of Argyle’s participation.
“We’ve been going for quite a few years now,” said Academy Head Kevin Hodges. “We feel it is an important part of the players’ development, that exposure of playing against teams from different countries and different styles of football.
“That’s a big point, but there’s also that the young boys go over to Ireland and get a feel of a football environment where they are preparing for games every day and having to recover afterwards.
“It’s not a holiday for them. We take it very seriously. They go over; they prepare right; they eat right; they sleep right; they recover right.
“They go into the sea – that’s probably a fun bit, but it’s used to prepare for the following day, to stretch and get rid of all the lactic acid; they fit training sessions in for the following day, working between games on things that did not go quite right in the game the day before.
“It’s challenging for them because, as the week progresses, it is tiring; they are going to pick up little niggles during the course of the week. That is when the mental side of things comes into play.
“Team spirit is created from it and it gives them small feeling of what professional football is all about.
“A majority of our boys are 14-15 years of age. We are fortunate that, this year, seven of the boys have experienced the Cup from last year. Hopefully, they will pass on their experience to the boys that are going for the first time.”
For some, that experience has included being part of the massive fundraising collaboration that has underpinned the trip.
“It has been remarkable,” said Hodgy. “Gary McGuire and the Green Taverners have played their part, again, in contributing; Ken Beale and the 50/50 Lottery did some fundraising at the Rod Stewart concert; the Senior Greens; supporters’ groups; Ian Newell and PASOTI.
“We even had our own young players raising money. Saltash United held a coaching day, and two of our young players in the squad – Aaron Goulty and Isaac Burdon – helped with then coaching, which raised more than £500.
“There has been a lot of help and goodwill to enable our boys to be able to compete. Many thanks to all those who have kindly contributed.”
NORTHERN IRELAND SUPER CUP
Monday, July 25 v Alset (Colombia) Clough, noon
Tuesday, July 26 v Rangers (Scotland) Limavady, 7pm
Wednesday, July 27 v County Armagh (N Ireland), noon
Max CHILDS (Plymouth)
Jordan DUFFEY (Liskeard)
Isaac BURDON (Saltash)
Reuben COLLUM (Bideford)
Jake CRIBB (Callington)
Tom HARRIS (Liskeard)
Harry LAMPIER (Perranporth)
Oliver TOMLINSON (Ivybridge)
Jacob EVANS (Paignton)
Matthew EVERITT (London)
Rio GARSIDE (Plymouth)
Michael PECK (Wadebridge)
Matthew ROBERTS (Totnes)
Joseph SEERY (Ivybridge)
Mani SKETT (Buckfastleigh)
Aaron GOULTY (Saltash)
Dominic OSBORNE (Newton Abbot)
Rubin WILSON (St Austell)
On standby: Jude Boyd, Kai Cornish, Theo Maye, Jack Rhead, Keiran Rowe, Jamie Simmonds, Harry Townsend.
The official Argyle website – www.pafc.co.uk – will carry reports and features from Argyle’s participation in the Northern Ireland Super Cup. The club’s Twitter account – @Only1Argyle
– will also carry regular updates.