A group of Triangle United players took advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime soccer opportunity and traveled to Spain this summer for eight days of top level training, competition and sightseeing. The trip began with a four day stay at the City of Futbol, the training center and home of the Spanish national team. The players arrived at the facility just after the Spanish nation team left for their historic run to the Euro 2008 championship.
The players’ four days in Madrid were filled with various cultural and soccer experiences. On their day of arrival the players checked into their rooms, attended an orientation session and then walked across the complex to play a futsal match in the Spanish national futsal stadium. Following a quick shower and dinner the players spent their evening shooting pool, playing video games and exploring the facility. The second day of the trip began with a training session with one of the Spanish federation’s coaches, followed by lunch. In the afternoon many of the players slept before boarding their bus for the short drive to play their first game of the trip against the Rayo Maja Da Honda academy team.
After a scoreless first 30 minutes the players began to show the wear of the travel and training and gave up three late goals. The players showered at the hosts facility and then the team bus took them to downtown Madrid where they went sightseeing and ate a late dinner while watching a Euro 2008 match. Day three began with a 70 mile bus ride to the beautiful historic walled city of Toledo. Here the players were given half of the day to sightsee on their own and absorb the architecture and culture of this former Moor and then Christian stronghold. The team returned to the City of Futbol late in the afternoon to prepare for another tough match against another local academy team. The boys were well rested for the game and came away with a 3-1 victory. On the morning of day four the players loaded their bags on the bus and headed to the Bernabeu, home of Real Madrid. For several hours the players toured the stadium, locker rooms, museum and gift shop.
After depositing their remaining Euros in the Real Madrid gift shop the afternoon was spent taking a guided tour of Madrid where the players visited the royal palace, the Madrid Plaza de toro (bullfighting ring) and several other historic sites before the bus headed towards the sunny Mediteranean coast and the teams next stop in Valencia.
Day five in Valencia consisted of a morning training session with the University of Valencia coach which was quickly followed by a long swim in the teams resort pool. The team is pictured at right with the University coach (back left-center) and Nacho our eSoccer chaperone (bottom right).
After lunch most of the players (and chaperones) took a swim in the Mediteranean and spent time using the hotel computer to contact family and friends back home. In the late afternoon the team again climbed aboard their bus and headed to the Valencia training academy and their final game of the trip. In a physical and spirited match the boys were once again victorious by a 3-1 score.
The remaining two days of the boys' trip were a whirlwind of activity as they watched and celebrated Spain’s historic Euro 2008 championship game with the locals at a seaside restaurant, visited Europe’s largest aquarium in Valencia and spent time enjoying the beach. The players returned home having experienced eight days of soccer and Spanish culture that will never be forgotten.