The day began with an 8:15AM breakfast in the lobby. When taking these tours, one of the off field experiences is doing things as a group. One ritual that is simple but important is to start the day together by meeting at breakfast with everyone seated before anyone can get up for breakfast. This is one example of the group knowing they are accountable to the their colleagues to report on time and have the self-discipline to follow the schedule of the team. The on-time teammates will not starve if players are late but they might lose trust and respect for those who do not value the sacrifice of the others and come on their terms. Self-discipline must be incorporated into reporting on time in order to show the sportsmanship that we are a group and we will commit to a time of meeting together.
This is helpful for a group that is put together for the experience of playing in another country, especially when players are playing on different age groups and teams in the club. The bonding and experiences off the field make the group stronger in a small period of time. Long story short, the players were on time, enjoyed breakfast and had a little time to prepare before leaving at 9:45AM for the Stadium tour of U.D. Leiria. U.D. Leiria is a famous club here in Portugal who has had success in the first division at one time but some complications within the club set them back quite a bit. The stadium is a larger stadium that had matches played in for the 2004 Euro when Portugal were the hosts of the competition. Unfortunately the now Champions of Europe lost that Euro in the finals to Greece. The tour was nice with the players and parents granted access to the entirety of the stadium, from field entrance to locker rooms and press conference rooms. The field was in poor condition as they just finished a concert event over the weekend so there is fertilizer and seeding down for the upcoming games in two weeks. It is helpful for the players to see and realize the professional approach to the game.
After the tour, the boys were able to partake in a walk and kick around with some young kids with a ball in the center of Leiria before going to lunch. On the menu for lunch was a bbq chicken that was most likely the group favorite, but also beef and rice with salad and multiple options for dessert! After a delicious lunch at Pires e Pratos, the tour was off to Obidos! This is one of those places that I feel you can visit multiple times and not be bored or disinterested in what it has to offer. The streets, views, people and shops all have something to offer and a story to tell. The kids did plenty of walking, exploring and picture taking before it was time to head to their 1st game.
The game…..Arriving at A.C. Marinhense around 5:30PM to meet the club representatives and trainers where they guided us to our locker room for the preparation of the friendly match. The boys were all excited and anxious to get onto the field but there was also a moment of uncertainty in the locker room. The thoughts begin to run through your head of what can happen right or wrong. The questions begin to arise where you ask yourself are you ready?…Is my teammate ready?…Are they good?…We will win?…We will lose?…These things are normal and they continue to arise throughout the warmup and even right before the match begins…The boys were about to face a big challenge against players 2 and 3 years older than them! The game ended in a 0-2 loss and was an overall great experience for all of the boys. There is a lot of talk that goes on about development and what is the “right” thing to do. What the boys experienced today was development of their character, their pride and passion as a player/person. There is no difference when it comes to being a player in the game of life or soccer. Everyone is proud of you boys today and good luck tomorrow as the team will be traveling north to Porto for their 2nd game and touring in the afternoon!
Obrigado! (Thank you)