Young Swans Benefit From Belgium Trip
Swansea City Under-12s won on the final day of a special Premier League football tournament in Ypres, Belgium.
The young squad returned to Wales this week after spending four days on the continent playing in the Christmas Truce Tournament alongside 19 other Premier League academies.
Swans U12s battled against some of the toughest category one teams in England, losing to Tottenham, Manchester City, Sunderland and Crystal Palace.
The side rallied to earn a 4-4 draw against Leicester City before a final-day 6-2 win against QPR.
Chelsea’s academy won the tournament following a 5-0 win over Liverpool in the final.
The tournament also marked when troops on the front line of the First World War ceased fighting on Christmas Day 1914, exchanged gifts and played football.
Young players from all 20 clubs expanded their education and knowledge of World War I visiting a series of war graves – hearing the stories of footballers who joined the war only to lose their lives on the front line - and watched a play about the Christmas truce and worked on war poems.
As a mark of respect the captains from all 20 teams, including Swans defender James Gorman, placed a wreath at the nightly Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate.
James said the trip had been a great learning experience for him and the team.
“We have learned a lot about the First World War and about the sacrifices British soldiers made," he said. “I was really happy to be chosen to lay the wreath on behalf of the club to pay our respect to those soldiers who died. It was a real honour.
The Swans also paid a special visit to The Dragon Cromlech in Langemark - a special monument which recognises Welsh soldiers who died on the battlefields – to lay a wreath on behalf of the club and The Royal British Legion.
Midfielder Macauley Power said the trip had been one of the best experiences he’s ever had. He said: “I don’t normally like history but since I’ve been in Belgium learning about the First World War it has inspired and I am starting to enjoy the subject more.
“On the football side of things I think we have learned a lesson from some of the clubs on this trip. If we want to be the best we need to get to their level of play."
U12s coach Jonathan Jones added: “I think it’s been a fantastic experience for our team with the boys paying their respects to those who fought and died in the conflict.
“A tournament like this has helped us grow as an Academy. We have all taken a lot away from this trip both on and off the field and learned new things about World War One.
“Some of the results might not have gone our way, but playing against some of the best teams in England has given us the taste of the standard that is expected at a category one level which is what we are aiming and striving for."
Watch exclusive coverage of the Belgium trip in this Thursday’s episode of Swans In Focus via Swans TV