Gladiators youngsters set for China tournament

The Matlock Town Academy squad, pictured earlier this year.
The Matlock Town Academy squad, pictured earlier this year.

The Matlock Town Academy are set to make further waves on the international stage having been chosen to represent England at the Shanghai International Tournament.

To consolidate the academy’s international achievements such as their Holland Cup exploits and last week’s announcement of a pre-season training camp with Gibraltar’s Manchester 62 FC, the tournament held in China offers as further overseas involvement.

“It’s a truly unbelievable achievement for a non-league academy to be selected to represent England at the most prestigious international club youth tournament in the world,” explained Town development manager Justin Tellus.

“We go with no fear and the belief in our football ability both from a technical and, more importantly, tactical perspective.”

With the academy’s Under-17s chosen to represent England ahead of an undisclosed side from the Premier League and one from the Championship, Town’s youngsters will travel to the tournament on July 6, two days ahead of the tournament kick-off..

Aside from England, 11 countries will be represented in Shanghai during the prestigious international title, with professional clubs from Mexico, Russia, Belgium, France, Australia, Ivory Coast, Slovakia, Romania, China and the USA all in attendance.

The tournament will provide a huge stage for the Under-17 Young Gladiators, with group stage games recording attendances of 5,000-6,000 and over 20,000 at the final.

Major sponsors from China have covered all the costs for the Young Gladiators and the main sponsor for the side in the tournament will be UK Boarding Schools Admission Services (UKBS).

Tellus said: “The challenge is huge and we know that the professional sides from different parts of the world will come with strength, flair and movement that will be new to our lads.

“That’s what the challenge is all about though and the experience on and off the pitch that will be gained will be priceless to their development as a player.

Last season’s Under-17s top scorer, Ethan Knowles, will captain the squad out in China, ahead of his pre-season trial with two undisclosed, professional Southern European teams.