Young Gladiators heading to Holland for international tournament

Matlock Town's pre-Academy U16s pictured with the U18s of Norwegian Third Division side, Tillerbyen FK, at a recent fixture.
Matlock Town's pre-Academy U16s pictured with the U18s of Norwegian Third Division side, Tillerbyen FK, at a recent fixture.

The Matlock Town academy are set to go international after announcing their participation in the upcoming Holland Cup youth football tournament.

The Gladiators are again making huge steps towards becoming an elite non-league youth set-up by taking several sides on to the international stage.

After back-to-back wins in the Blackpool Cup, a tournament which features teams from across Europe, Town’s youngsters were invited to participate in the Holland competition, which is hosted in Almere.

The tournament, run by the Euro-Sportring organisation, will take place on March 31 and April 1 next year when Almere, the city that neighbours the Dutch capital Amsterdam, will welcome 230 European teams from 12 countries, playing in several age categories.

Head of development at Matlock, Steve Heath, explained the benefit of the tournament to the young players at the club.

He said: “It’s an international 11-a-side tournament over the Easter period, and we believe it will be a great experience for our young players to play against international teams in a good, strong competition.

“Every competition is about learning, and they are valuable experiences as the players grow and develop at Matlock Town Football Club.”

Heath was also not curbing any expectations as he discussed the tournament further. He added: “Our ambition is always to win every competition we enter.

“We want to see where we are at as a development club and what stage we’re at competing against European opposition.

“We’re always looking to improve, and we’re always looking to develop our players. We want this to be the best football academy around to attract good players.

“We want local players to develop, get valuable experience, have a good time and enjoy their football. Hopefully, we will get a few players into the first team as well.”

In a penalty shootout during their Blackpool Cup triumph earlier this year, goalkeeper Jordan Pierrepont scored a winning spot-kick, and he spoke of his excitement at playing on the stage of the Holland Cup.

“I’m buzzing to be going and I’m sure that everyone else is because it’s something new,” Pierrepont said. “It’s a new environment and a different kind of football.”.

The young Gladiators are travelling in partnership with the company, Project 90, but are still welcoming any sponsors willing to support the trip.