Academy trip of a lifetime
FOOTBALL: A 10- day trip of a lifetime has left an impression on the Reedy family, who say they now view the world game in an entirely new light.
Southern Downs Academy coach Chris Reedy, and children Jack and Mel, have just returned from a jaunt to Spain, where they were treated to footballing master classes and got to see some of the world's premier professionals up close.
"We've been planning it for two years,” Chris said.
"We took 11 kids from the academy over. There was us three from Stanthorpe.”
The academy spent time at the homes of two of the world's footballing powerhouses, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
"We went to Madrid first to their academy for four days,” Chris said.
"We went to their stadium (Bernabeu) and had a tour through that... (then) a seven-hour trip to Barcelona where we spent a few more days.
"Their facility there caters for 400 teams. Because their climate is so good, they're bringing all these teams over from across Europe to train.”
The facility had just had $16 million spent on revamping it.
"Our kids trained twice a day with their youth coaches. They then played a game against one of their academy teams (under-12s) there,” Chris said.
"They were very impressed with Mel and Jack.”
So much so, the club has offered to sponsor the pair to go back over to Barcelona to train at the academy.
"They'd go there for nine months of the year. They have school and accommo- dation and everything there,” Chris said.
"It's just amazing - even to be considered.”
Jack, who trains with the Brisbane Roar youth academy, said it was a life-changing opportunity.
"I thought it was a great experience, being able to see all the stadiums and see how they play and what they do,” he said.
"The training was really good, high intensity.”
Chris said the trip had "totally changed the Southern Downs academy”.
"It's completely changed the concept of how we coach. It's all about possession. Their kids play on a big field,” he said.
"Their philosophy is small- sided fields don't work. The intensity in training was full-on... 10 times better. Over there it is a religion.
"The academy is definitely going to go back - hopefully in two years. It's an experience the academy wants to see more people from Stanthorpe get involved in.
"Next time we'll go for a longer period.”
Another highlight was witnessing one of the game's greatest.
"We went to watch Atletico against Barcelona (at the Nou Camp). (Lionel) Messi... what a phenomenal player. The fans treat him like God,” Chris said.