Haileybury’s 1st football XI had some extensive pre-season training during a tour to Portugal just after New Year. The 17-member tour was immensely successful despite the squad being stranded at Faro Airport for a couple of days due to the bad weather in the UK!
Julian Alliott and George Allen led the team, who all stayed at Browns Sports and Leisure Club for five days just outside Vilamoura on the Algarve.
Many English professional football and rugby clubs train at this facility. The Gambian national football team – most of whom play for clubs in Europe – were there too and the boys enjoyed talking to them. They also went to support the ex-British colony when they played Angola (the "home team") in Villa Real, San Antonio. Angola are now hosting the African Cup of Nations.
The weather was warm but wet and they trained every day on either Browns’ grass pitch or a third-generation pitch which they had to travel to. The team played two games, with all boys getting on the pitch in both games; nobody played all of each game. They beat a local Portuguese club 7-0 before losing 9-0 to Queens Park FC youth team, a Glaswegian football club whose home is Hampden Park – the Scottish national stadium.
James Shirley and Ryan O’Leary particularly stood out but many of the boys did really well. Hopefully the tour will help when the football starts some time this term!