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Campbell River’s Carihi boys lace up for football tour of England

Carihi Senior Boys Soccer squad enjoyed a wonderful spring break on a football tour of England.
Carihi boys played the Cardinal Heenan squad during a football tour of England during Spring Break.

Carihi Senior Boys Soccer squad enjoyed a wonderful spring break on a football tour of England.

It proved to be a “trip of a lifetime” for these local lads where they were able to take in a culture somewhat different than their hometown of Campbell River.

The trip started with a four-day stay in London. The boys visited numerous iconic landmarks such as Westminster Abbey, The Tower of London, London Bridge, The Globe, Buckingham Palace, The British Museum, The Science Museum and Piccadilly Circus. The party also had the opportunity to take in a West End show, Thriller at the Lyric Theatre.

The boys quickly learnt the art of taking a tube or two on the vast and impressive London underground network. While in London the boys were also able to watch an English Championship game where hosts Charlton Athletic defeated Plymouth Argyle by 2-0. In addition, the group took in a tour of Wembley Stadium often referred to as the “Home of Football.”

“The highlight on the pitch for me was our last game because it was our biggest challenge against a regional team. Although this game was not as physical our opponents were technically strong and moved the ball with great speed and simplicity. The second highlight of the trip wasn’t on the pitch, but in the stands with all of us watching and learning from the pros,” Nathan Chow said.

The next stage of the tour saw the boys take the train for an eight-day stay in the northwest of England. First stop was Liverpool where the team enjoyed three great games defeating Cardinal Heenan (Steve Gerard’s Alma mater) and De La Salle (Wayne Rooney’s Alma mater) in 11-a-side. Both these games were feisty affairs and the Carihi lads quickly understood the importance of being strong in the tackle.

The first game was a shoot out win after a 0-0 game and the second saw a 2-1 win for the Campbell River lads. The evening of the second game the team again enjoyed victory in a six-a-side game at the local Power league against South Wirral High School. Amid these games, the group enjoyed tours of Liverpool FC and Everton FC.

Aside from the football in Liverpool, many took the time to visit the impressive Albert Dock area. This is now the vibrant heart of Liverpool’s historic waterfront where a government initiative in the mid 1980’s helped to regenerate 800 acres of what, at that time, was a complex of abandonment and dereliction.

“This trip was such a great experience for me. I really enjoyed seeing all the history. In Canada we don’t get to enjoy the history as much as England because we are such a young country. The soccer fans were super enthusiastic about their teams, it was so cool to see so much passion for soccer,” Braeden Hues said.

Next, it was off to Manchester and three more games. The first game saw a close encounter with Manchester Health Academy whom despite only having 35 boys in Grade 11 and 12, inflicted the first defeat upon Carihi by 2-1. The afternoon saw a tour of Old Trafford where Manchester United play. The following morning the group went to the home of the English Champions, Manchester City. The tour encompassed the typical tour of the Etihad Stadium and, in addition, a tour around the 80 acre City Football Academy. The afternoon saw the team take on St Peter’s school side from Grade 9 and 10. The Carihi lads were down 3-0 by half time but showed great courage to fight back before finally losing 3-2.

“Spending the last two weeks in England with my teammates was a blast! We landed in London traveled to Liverpool, Manchester, and Blackpool. The highlight of the soccer aspect of the trip was all the games and different competition we faced. Off the pitch the best part was spending time with my friends surrounded by the sport we love. And of course visiting all the stadiums you see on TV. Thanks for the trip of a lifetime,” Corson Arbour said.

The next morning saw the final game of a physically challenging five games in five days and it proved to be against the strongest technical team of the week. Despite the Thameside boys again only being grade 9 and 10 age, this team were not short on size and know how. The early stages were dominated by the hosts and once more Carihi went down 3-0 before a mini revival. The second half proved an even affair with the hosts eventually winning 5-3. Given the demands of the week, it truly was a magnificent effort for the boys.

Immediately after the game, the group headed off to Yorkshire where they watched their first Championship game of the tour. They saw Leeds United defeat Bolton Wanderers by 2-0 in front of 37, 000 fans. Once the game was over, the whole group headed to the Mullaney family home where they were treated to some wonderful Yorkshire hospitality with some stew and Yorkshire Pudding. After this, the tour party returned back to Liverpool for a few days.

“During the trip, the thing I enjoyed the most was getting the opportunity to play against teams from England. Playing against people who really live and breath football and all share an equal passion for the game was an experience I won’t forget. Also, some of the best moments of the trip were spent off the pitch with my teammates. Whether it was kicking a ball around outside the hostel, touring local landmarks or winning at the arcade in Blackpool, we were all constantly creating memories with each other. I believe the trip brought us closer as a team and really opened our eyes to the world of football outside of Canada,” Jared Perras said.

Saturday morning saw the chance to visit the Albert Dock and check out the sports stores. The afternoon saw the group watch their first English Premier League game. Goodison Park, Everton was packed as the hosts took on Premier league leaders, Manchester City. The away side would prevail with a 3-1 victory.

The next day the group headed over to Blackpool, a seaside resort on the Irish Sea coast of England. The weather was cool and many of the boys headed in to the Indoor Water Park. The following day the group headed to watch another Championship game with Preston North End taking on Derby County. Once again the game saw an important win for the away side with Derby winning 1-0.

“The best part about playing in England was the grit that every player had over there, you could make a tackle and there would be no whining. At our second game in Liverpool, there seemed to be one player who was taking us lightly, but that soon changed when I made a few clattering tackles on him. In England with the more tackles I made, the more players respected me. Football is such a big pastime in England, visiting all the stadiums and watching all of the different games really showed me a huge part of the English culture. On the other hand, downtown London is a very exciting place to be, there are different pieces of history around every corner,” Shohei Iwamoto said.

The final portion of the trip saw a return to London and one more Championship game at Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham and quaintly situated by the River Thames. This proved to be another exciting game with Fulham, who are pushing to promotion into the Premiership, defeated Leeds United 2-0. Their last day provided the opportunity for the boys to take a tube into London and provided a last opportunity for pictures and viewing the many historic landmarks.

It was a wonderful two weeks where the boys behaved in impeccable fashion throughout. So many leaders on the ground tours stopped to acknowledge the top class behaviour and opposing coaches too were impressed with the quality of their sportsmanship. The boys certainly proved to be outstanding ambassadors of both Carihi and the community.

Captains Jared Perras and Shohei Iwamoto expressed their thanks to “Mr. Wilson, Mr Pomeroy, Mr Akehurst and Mr Jepson for providing this wonderful opportunity!”