Kids' stuff for Real

Ian Whittell watches the youth of Stevenage take on Europe's finest

Elliott Titre shuffled nervously on to the stage at Huddersfield Town Hall on Friday night and pulled the name PSV Eindhoven out of a glass bowl to the groans of his teenage teammates in the audience. The group of death was complete.

Titre and his colleague from the Symonds Green youth football club in Stevenage are playing this weekend in the Nike Premier Cup, a world-wide under-14 tournament, whose finals have brought together 24 teams from as far afield as Indonesia and Chile .

The opening ceremony, complete with brass band, choir and dancing girls (teenage, obviously) was not kind to the English underdogs. Not only did Elliott - an honorary participant in the draw because today he celebrates his 14th birthday - place his team in the same group as PSV, but Symonds Green also found themselves in the company of Real Madrid and the Danes of Aarhus.

Still, pre-match anxiety was not the main problem for Richard Collins, the Symonds Green coach, at the team's luxury hotel on the eve of the two-day tournament. "They were up until 2am, larking around," he admitted. "It's the first time a lot of them have ever been away from home - boys will be boys. They were raiding each other's room, phoning each other up. I bet Terry Venables doesn't have this to contend with."

The morning after, tournament title-holders Madrid were first up and the Spanish, masterminded by a superb midfielder called Ernesto Gomez, strolled to an 8-2 victory.

Francisco Jimenez, the Real coach, said, somewhat unkindly: "The English were very weak. But we have our players in four days a week for two, two and half hours at a time and three, four, maybe five of our players will get to the professional level."

Symonds Green offer something of a contrast. Collins explained: "We have them for an hour, if we're lucky and get them all together. An hour a week, that is. We're just a typical youth club, 168 kids playing every week, and everything run by volunteers."

While England's other representatives, Arsenal, found themselves on the receiving end of a shock 1-0 defeat from Indonesia's PSMS Medan, PSV were providing more of the same medicine for Symonds Green, although pacey striker Wayne Roscoe scored Green's first goal of the competition in a battling 2-1 defeat.

The Dutch and Real produced the game of the day, in a 2-1 win for a quite superb PSV team - the names Ayhan Evren and Mohammed Chamlal are ones to remember - in a possible preview of tonight's final.

While the two European giants were locking horns, Symonds Green were battling for pride against Aarhus. Thanks to another goal from Roscoe, they picked up their first point in a 1-1 draw and ensured they finished a highly creditable third in the group.

But Collins will be looking for improvement today when they play a further three matches in the consolation group. He said: "I thought we should have done better today. It's been a long tiring day, they had to be up at six and all that fooling around caught up with them. It will be early to bed tonight."

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam