Six English Football League clubs are preparing to jet off to Spain for a pre-season trip organised by League Football Education. Over 100 Under-18 players from AFC Wimbledon, Blackburn Rovers, Fleetwood Town, Port Vale, QPR and Wigan Athletic begin their trip abroad on Sunday 28 July, with three matches each against Spanish opposition on the schedule before their return on Friday 09 August.
The initiative is fully subsidised by the Erasmus+ fund and aims to promote development and the exchange of skills and ideas between coaches and players in both countries. Real Betis will be the hosts for AFC Wimbledon, with QPR in close proximity at Sevilla. Elsewhere, Wigan are staying with Granada, while Blackburn, Fleetwood and Port Vale are all based in Madrid, with Rayo Majadahonda, Rayo Vallecano and Aravaca welcoming the three teams.
In order to experience Spanish life, players will take part in a range of cultural activities, which are designed to broaden personal and professional horizons. These include language lessons, city and museum tours, guest speaker sessions and community activity.
The clubs will also take part in several training sessions led by the European coaches, plus compete in challenging fixtures against La Liga giants like Atletico Madrid, CD Leganés, Getafe CF, Granada, Real Betis, Real Madrid and Sevilla.
Project Coordinator Elaine Brand said: “The pre-season trips provide players and staff with the opportunity to experience a different culture, play against foreign opposition and learn about European methods for developing young footballers.
“Players with an enthusiasm to absorb their surroundings and the determination to make the most of each opportunity can really benefit from the fortnight abroad. While partner coaching sessions will help to develop the apprentices as players, the range of cultural activities will allow them to gain life skills, expose them to a new language and hopefully open their minds to life in a new environment.”