The Matlock Town youth set-up has continued to strengthen links overseas as this week they welcomed Manchester 62 FC for a joint training camp, writes Andrew Haines.
The Under-14s from the Gibraltar side arrived on Sunday afternoon and are set to stay for a week with the Young Gladiators as part of a joint preseason training camp.
The Manchester 62 side will take part in three friendly fixtures during their week stay and also attend other Football League pre-season friendlies with Matlock’s youngsters.
A role reversal of the link up is due to take place during winter as Town’s Under-18s, 17s and 16s are planning to make a trip to Gibraltar for a similar training week.
The training camp comes just a week after the Gladiators had been making waves on the international stage after an Under-17s side claimed bronze medals at the Shanghai International Tournament.
The group of 17-year-olds defied all expectation during their 10-day stay in China as they became the most successful non-professional side in the tournament’s 37-year history.
The academy which brought Derby County Under-23 prodigy Max Hunt through their ranks faced impressive competition from professional sides from right across the world.
The Young Gladiators topped their group with seven points, overcoming the Fiji Under-17 national side and an Arsenal development squad as well as drawing with a China select XI.
This brought them up against eventual tournament champions, Liga MX side CF Pachuca who boasted several Mexico Under-17 stars.
Matlock bounced back from their only defeat to beat Melbourne City, owned by City Football Group, in the third place play-off.
Chinese journalist Yolanda Zhao played a key role in Matlock gaining an initial place in the tournament and acted as a tournament leader for the Gladiators throughout the competition.
Through a link with development manager, Justin Tellus, Zhao nominated Matlock as potential contestants to tournament officials but admitted there was not an expectation for the non-league side to finish in the top three, which has earned Matlock re-entry in to next year’s Shanghai International Tournament, including sponsorship to attend.