The England Colleges squad

@AoC_Sport The England Colleges squads are back on home soil after a week in Italy competing in international football and creating lifelong memories along the way 

Whilst Keith Boanas’ women’s team didn’t manage to retain their ‘Il Cacio E Rosa’ trophy from the inaugural tournament in 2019, the squad had a strong tournament against a solid field of opposition.

They played Italian sides Grifone Gialloverde and Abruzzo as well as Moldova, scoring 14 goals in total and only conceding three.
The ECFA side easily beat Grifone Gialloverde 7-1 in the opening game of the tour.

They led 4-1 at the break with a brace from Eve Blakey, Caitlin Chapman and Jenny Hesketh with the pick of the goals.

In the second half ECFA extended their lead courtesy of Jess Hood, Abbey Hateley and Katie Godden. Joint player of the match awards went to Hesketh and Megan Farrell.

The second match also finished with a comfortable 6-1 victory against Abruzzo. Leading 2-1 at half-time thanks to Mia Adaway and Hannah Coote, substitute Eve Blakey added two further goals, including a penalty.

Katie Godden and Abbey Hateley rounded off the scoring on an excellent day for England Colleges. Player of the match was awarded to Katie Godden.

The final group game encounter against Moldova on the penultimate day of the tournament was the most challenging yet.
However, the England side acquitted themselves extremely well against a much older side who were well drilled.
The players fought well for every ball before conceding a late free-kick and going down 1-0 to the Moldovans. Grace Ayre, ECFA captain, was awarded player of the match.

In the women’s tournament final Moldova played Kosovo, winners of the adjacent group, and the game finished 3-1 in Kosovo’s favour.
Maisy Collis of SGS College was awarded women’s player of the tournament.

Reflections
Head Coach Keith Boanas said: “The girls were incredible up against the new rules of the competition where every team had players in their twenties. The Moldovans fielded a team with 10 players from the age of 22, including two of the maximum age of 25.

“However, the players’ self-belief, attitude and approach never changed individually and collectively. Proud is a massive understatement.
“Without doubt this group have grown over the year and this trip created a special bond that will live long in the memory and enhance their careers.”

“They, as are all of the staff, are more than grateful that the ECFA has provided this unique opportunity to experience this type of competition.”

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Jenny Hesketh, of Newcastle Stafford College Group, added: “The week in Italy has been amazing and definitely one to remember. Thank you to the ECFA and all the coaches for the opportunity to be involved and for all the time and hard work that has gone into making the tour happen.”

Roma Caput Mundi
Meanwhile in the men’s tournament, the ‘Roma Caput Mundi’, Kosovo also took home the winner’s trophy.
Darin Killpartrick’s ECFA men’s squad faced Italy / LND in their opening fixture but lost out 5-1 – Gus Banhire of Barton Peveril College the only goal scorer for England.

Callum Watts (Bridgwater & Taunton College) picked up the player of the match award in recognition of his determination and hard work in and out of possession.

In their second group fixture the squad faced Moldova, another well drilled team, and this ended in a tough 4-1 defeat for ECFA. Goal scorer Matt Wood (Exeter College) was awarded player of the match for his performance at centre back.

In their final game the team faced the Welsh Colleges team, and in an edgy affair it was Wales, who against the grain managed to bag a second half winner to take home the pride. Dylan Jelley of Chichester College was awarded men’s player of the tournament.

Reflecting on the week, Head Coach Darrin Killpartrick said: “It was a fantastic learning experience from all four corners of the long-term player development model , both on and off the pitch.
“The players conducted themselves well and with these experiences it will only enhance their journey in education and football. Although the results didn’t go to plan I’m always extremely proud and honoured to manage the ECFA national team.”

BCA College’s Fred Chapman added: “Being involved in such a high standard of football has helped me improve my game even more.
“The coaches and other staff were so helpful throughout the tour, giving us advise on attributes we can improve on whilst also praising the skills we performed well.

“The whole experience of going to the Caput Mundi Roma tour is something that I will remember for the rest of my life and I would highly recommend it to any aspiring footballers out there.”

Off the field there was also a cultural side to the trip with a visit to the Italian Olympic Committee for a welcome ceremony and to meet the British ambassador to Italy Jill Morris. The players also got to visit the Stadio Olimpico and the famous Rome Coliseum.

Thank You
AoC Sport would like to place on record a huge thank you to the players, parents, and programme partners: Catapult Sports, UCFB and Future Elite Sport, as well as volunteer programme staff. 

Both teams will now regroup and play a final domestic fixture before collecting their ECFA caps at the ECFA Cup Finals in April.

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