It’s ‘California here we come’ for the Isle of Man Schools’ under-19 football squad.
The party head to America tomorrow, Wednesday, looking to repeat the fantastic feat of the last two years’ and win the Crusader Cup in San Diego and the highly prestigious Wolfpack Invitational Cup, being held at the University of Southern California Irvine campus in the LA area.
The squad consists of 18 students selected from all the island’s secondary schools as well as the Isle of Man College.
Thanks to the generous support of Old Mutual International, a successful and thriving cross-border investment business based in Onchan, the squad will be boasting new kit.
Mike Haywood, head of operational assurance, Old Mutual International added: ‘We believe that large businesses have a responsibility to support the local communities in the markets in which they operate and we are therefore delighted to be supporting the Isle of Man Schools’ U19 football team.
‘We wish them the very best of luck as they compete and represent the island.’
The annual pilgrimage to California is in its 19th year and represents an incredible opportunity for Manx lads to experience football at a very high level, and much more besides.
Staying with American families in the beautiful seaside resort of Carlsbad, the boys will have the ‘trip of a lifetime’.
The players were selected after a trial process, which saw 80 boys nominated by their schools for the first trial back in September. After six trials the numbers were eventually whittled down to the lucky 18.
For eight weeks leading up to the trip the squad has been training on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons at the excellent Astroturf pitch at Bemahague. They have played seven warm up games against teams from the island.
The squad therefore heads Stateside with high hopes of lifting two trophies for the third successive year.
Objective number one is making the final of the Crusader Cup which is on Tynwald Day.
The squad will be accompanied on the trip by teachers Darren Ideson, Matty Kelly and Chris Starkey. The latter will be making the trip Stateside for the last time after leading all previous trips.
Island squad: Sammy Gelling (Ballakermeen), Adam Dempsey (Ramsey), Michael Valerga (IoM College), Owen Dawson (QEII), Kyle Keeling (St Ninian’s), Tom Wood (QEII), Michael Simpson (Ramsey), Chris Starkey (Ramsey), Ronan McDonell (Ballakermeen), Alex Shimmin (Ramsey), Tom Bentham (Ramsey), Will Morris (QEII), Joe Quayle (St Ninian’s), Ryan Gartland (IoM College), Brody Patience (St Ninian’s), Daniel Humphries-Shaw (St Ninian’s), Tom Smith (IoM College), Dale Corrin (Castle Rushen) and Matthew Kent-Lloyd (Ballakermeen).
A big thank you also goes to the Department of Education and Children, the head teachers of all the island’s secondary schools, especially those of RGS and St Ninian’s for their support.
Thanks also go to Brian Kelly and Mannlink Travel for their much appreciated sponsorship of the squad’s travel in the States over the years, the various clubs in organising fixtures, the supportive parents of the players and the generosity of our host families who make the trip possible.
There will be a full report on the trip after the squad return on July 15.