A day in Porto…
The second day of the trip began with an early breakfast at the hotel before heading to the stadium of FC Porto for a tour of the stadium and Museum.
FC Porto is Benfica’s biggest rival in Portugal and challenges them every year for the title. As many of you know, our Academy is supporters of Benfica and work with them on various projects abroad and at our home fields. These tours are to give a total soccer education and experience to the players and today was a day to show how competition makes everyone better!
I have had the pleasure of touring the Benfica Stadium and Museum multiple times and used this as a comparison for today’s experience. There were many similarities that show me that the clubs are keeping tabs on each other. Taking what they like or noticing what works for one and making it their own. This is a necessary skill of any competitor in the sport, business, and life in general. Whether it was how we entered the stadium or the darkness of the room we were in there was a reasoning behind each step of the way through our tour. I respect this in-depth thought when it comes to the supporter experience, non-soccer fan or rival entering their home. They have pride in their colors, history, and people and must make others feel that presence each time they visit. The special tributes and rituals are to be announced and celebrated in hopes of growing a passion from fans or respect from rivals. The videos, trophies, statues, books, mascots, and more than the boys saw today are all existing because of competition. I know many FC Porto fans are not too fond of Benfiquistas and vice versa but recognize without one another pushing to be better we wouldn’t enjoy these beautiful experiences.
Which brings me to how delicious lunch was. We ate lunch at one of the best restaurants in the area that opened up their second dining area across the street just for us. a simple meal was delivered with chicken, rice, salad, fish filet but the privacy of the lunch and intimate feel of having a balcony view with a one-man service who was working tiresomely to deliver plates 6 at a time was appreciated. With that appreciation comes admiration for one mans hard work and a good word that gets past along about how we were served. They opened specifically for us as it was in the off hours of their weekly schedule. Again, competition drives people to go to lengths that are not often reached. When going the extra mile becomes part of the routine that is a true improvement.
Finally, the competition for our boys on the field came at 16:00 against FC Porto. The opportunity to play against an Academy team of a successful and historic club like Porto is a win, to begin with. The professionalism was evident and expected. Leading up to this game, the boys were nervous and unsure of the level that would be displayed but preparing for a tough challenge. Our opponents ended up being a younger squad of 14-year-old mix and the B group of this division. We won the game by a score of 4-2. The score doesn’t tell everything and the age of a player is often confused with the level. These boys had good technique in the fundamentals of the game, structure, organization, communication and a fearless mentality. These “B” players are selected from not just all over Portugal but throughout Europe and into Africa. Many of the players are receiving room and board to be a part of the FC Porto school. Physically they could not match up of course and I feel we were a good opponent for them to work on things before heading into the season. For us, It was a game that will most likely be the lightest of the week here in Portugal.
Tomorrow will be a double session with trainers Carlos and Nuno who have expressed that the boys must be ready. I am anticipating a tough 2 sessions in the morning and afternoon back at our favorite home base Futpark in Cortegaca.
Tune in tomorrow! ⚽️