Trip of a life time for Gladstone soccer stars
SOCCER: It has been an adventure others could only dream of.
Gladstone youngsters Nate Beach and Maksim Bijelic completed an 11-day tour of Italy run by the AC Milan Soccer School conducted by AC Milan player Andrea Icardi.
The Australian-based team finished a credible 14th out of 24 teams after a 1-0 loss to Sestese in the final match after the team entered its pool in second place before it preceded to the final positional rounds.
"For a group of players to come together in a mater of a few days and have the successes that they did against sides who train five days a week and have been playing together for years was amazing," Nate's mum Joanne Beach said.
The tournament consisted of a series of matches against Italian clubs which included a nine-a-side match against Alexandria in a practice match in Novara. Nate scored his first goal on European soil in a 3-1 win.
"This would have been the boys toughest match to date the opposition were very good and our boys were very tired," Beach said.
The AC Milan Soccer School lads tasted more success with a 6-2 win in another friendly against Monza. Beach said the players replicated how the professionals go about their business.
"The boys lived, ate, trained, attended technical sessions and travelled the way a professional players do," she said.
"It was really giving them all a taste of what the life would be like and what is expected of them should they wish to play professionally.
"The boys took the local teams by surprise and really performed to a high standard throughout, quite often having other sides watch them to see what they could do."
Beach said one of the 'highlights' was playing in a hail storm in an early tournament game.
But that was only a tiny sample of what Nate and company have soaked up.
2-2 draw v Genova
6-2 win v Monza
3-1 win v Alexandria
1-2 loss v AS Lucchese
2-1 win v Pistoiese
0-1 loss v Sestese
Finished 14th of 24 teams