Barry Cooper and Jack Knighton from Gillingham FCs Community Trust have just returned from a successful weekend in Boulogne.
Thanks to funding from Shepway District Council we were able to take eight young players out to Boulogne to take part in their very first football tournament in celebration of Euro 2016. The boys were selected from players at the clubs Folkestone Development Centre and also from Marsh Academy who the Trust work closely with.
The team headed out to Boulogne on Friday and on arrival got straight to work as they took part in a training session in the grounds of the Chateau they were staying in. The next day it was an early start as they made their way to Stadfe de L’Octroi where the tournament was taking place. The teams were split into two groups with the winners and runners-up progressing to the semi-finals.
The team started off in impressive fashion wininng their first game and remained unbeaten in their group, only conceeding once, to progress to the semis. The semi-finals was a tough game but the team worked hard to secure the win and seal their place in the finals against one of the teams from France.
After a hard morning the team dug in deep to pull another impressive performance out of the bag and become the first winners of the Boulogne Town Football Tournament.
But the day didn’t end their as headed down to the beach to chill out before heading off to Boulogne Town FC for a stadium tour, the team had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and take in all the sights and sounds of a French Football Stadium. Everyone at the club made the team feel very welcome and were fantastic hosts.
The team also had the opportunity to take a stroll around the old town of Bolougne, have a game of Laser Quest and pay a visit to Nausicaa National Sea Centre, one of the largest public aquariums in Europe before heading back to Folkestone.
Barry Cooper said “A big thank you to Lynn Dockar and Shaun Taylor for inviting the Shepway Team to the first Boulogne Town Football Tournament. The team only had one training session prior to travelling to Boulogne, with some only meeting for the first time the Sunday before we left.
“The Shepway boys were impeccably behaved and conducted themselves in a professional manner throughout and Jack and I had the easiest job of the weekend. When scoring a goal, they were very respectful and did not go mad, they shook hands with all their opponents and made sure they clapped when another English team picked up their trophy.
“The trip also helped to cement ties between, Gillingham FC and Boulogne FC, hopefully in the future the two clubs can work on some joint ventures.“
Congratulations to the team on their victory and thank you to the boys who were fantastic throughout and were a credit to their families and school (Marsh Academy, Folkestone Primary Academy, Capel-Le-Ferne Primary School and Hawkinge Primary School).
A massive thank you also to Lynn Dockar, who is the Boulogne Town Councillor, for organising the trip and all the activities and to Shaun Taylor from Shepway District Council for funding the trip.