Uist Junior Football team headed to Lloret De Mar, near Barcelona in Spain to take part in the Costa Brava Cup recently.
The group of 23 young footballers and six adults left Uist via Lochmaddy on October 10th heading for a flight from Newcastle airport to Barcelona Girona.
After arriving early evening in Barcelona they were met by a own private coach which got to our hotel in Lloret De Mar before midnight and welcomed with a meal and an early night was in order to be rested for the start of the tournament on Sunday, October 12th.
The Tournament was superbly organised with nations ranging from Africa, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Ukraine, Italy, the hosts Spain and of course Scotland.
The age groups ranged from Under 11 all the way through to Under 19 boys and an Under 15 and Under 18 girls tournament.
The Uist squad had prepared all year to play in the Under 17 Boys Tournament, but when were instructed to compete in the Under 19 Boys section - a bit of a blow considering the average age in the team is 16 and now they had to face teams of players aged 18 or 19.
They also had the Uist side down as being from England, but this was soon put right and the flags were changed.
After an excellent opening parade through Lloret De Mar with Uist Flag bearer (Calum Binnie) the team was presented to a large crowd in the local stadium where the opening games and finals would take place.
Each participating side had their own national anthem played, although the Flower of Scotland was played in reverse and sounded terrible!
But it didn’t stop the group from having a ‘ball’ and after the ceremony it was back to the hotel for a light meal, some rest and then on to the stadium for our opening game against ‘Fundacion Marcet’, a Spanish Academy consisting of South American players all aged 18 and 19.
They were technically superb and beat the Uist lads 2-0, although the boys played well, they were somewhat dispirited, but knew they had two more games the following day to get back on track.
The next day the team were up against a Finish Under 19 team, and the boys performed great, with an Andrew MacSween strike and an own goal giving the Uist team a 2-0 victory.
The next game was against a Gambian Under 19 side and they were big, strong and again technically very good and organised.
The boys played out of their skins and a Scott Mackay header ensured they were right back in the mix going into the third day.
The fourth game was against a Barcelona Academy side, this time full of Spanish based players, and goals from Andrew MacSween and Callum Campbell gave the Island side a really hard fought 2-2 draw.
And they had to wait on other results to find out their fate. Luckily they had done enough to qualify for the final day.
Into the finals to face ‘Fundacion Marcet’, who had also brought in some of the Barcelona Academy players - it was a tough challenge to be played under floodlights at 8.30pm, with a large crowd.
And although the Uist team were beaten 2-0, the players did really well and matched the Academy side for long spells, the goals came right on half time and then full time when the Uist side were pushing for an equaliser.
Overall it was a fantastic tournament in which the younger players excelled, and the icing on the cake was Thomas Steele (16) being named Goalkeeper of the Tournament, which was thoroughly deserved.
The whole team were superb and Shaun MacCormick was definitely the correct choice for Captain, as he lead the team well to get to a prestigious final in a higher age group than expected - a feat in itself.
The players and adults also decided that their player of the Tournament for the team was Martin MacPhee from Benbecula.
Huge thanks go to strip sponsors Voove and Angus Doyle, Donald and Cyril MacPhee of Nodram, Polo Shirt Sponsors, Qinetiq, Colin Campbell Sports, Calmac, Hector MacLeod at Third Sector Hebrides for arranging Minibuses and Danny Steele for assisting getting them on the ferry, Kilbride Shelfish, Damie and Marion Steele of Hebridean Smolts, David Blaney, Archie Campbell, Neil Beaton, Uisdean Robertson, Donald Manford in Barra and Creagorry and Daliburgh Cooperatives and supervising adults, Willie MacAulay, Cherry and Kenny MacAulay, Martin Matheson and Martin Sloss and all the lads who were a credit to themselves, their parents and their school.
Pictured are the team at the tournament.