Coaches hail South African experience
Cameron Toshack and Gary Richards both hailed the Under-19s’ trip to South Africa as a great success and believe the experience will be invaluable for their development.
The travelling party fly home to the UK from Cape Town tonight following participation in this year’s Metropolitan Premier Cup.
Despite getting knocked out on penalties at the last 16 stage, Gary Richards was full of praise for the players and they way they conducted themselves throughout the trip.
“When you look at all the benefits from the trip I think it really has been great for the players,” he said.
“The boys have really got to know one another and being away for this length of time you get to see the characters we have in the squad. That has also been really pleasing.
“There was also a real unpredictability about the teams we played and the different styles we came up against. They just attacked you and it has been something different to think about, compared to the teams we play back home.
“Obviously we would have liked to have gone further in the competition, particularly after seeing the team that knocked us out reach the final. There was a great crowd there and I think the boys would have relished that and it would have been a good occasion.
“We’ve now got a league game against Sheffield United to come this weekend and a cup final against Cardiff took look forward to as well, so we want to finish the season strongly.”
The Under-19s finished second in Group C to qualify for the knockout stage, with the highlight being a 4-0 victory over Battswood in their opening game.
After a thrilling last 16 tie against JL Zwane – who went on to reach the final – the Swans were eliminated in a penalty shoot-out.
But despite disappointment on the pitch, the travelling party worked closely off the field as the squad were able to see some of Cape Town’s most desirable locations.
A trip to the top of Table Mountain was also followed by a visit to Camps Bay and the city’s Waterfront.
And Cameron Toshack believes the whole experience will stand the squad in good stead for the future.
“Overall, it has been a thoroughly valuable experience,” he said. “It has been great to take the players into a new environment where the football is vastly different.
“Everyone that has been on the tour has seen the social demographics and the deprivation that us around, as well as the other end of the spectrum with some of the places we have visited.
“But we have been very fortunate in that everywhere we have gone the people have been extremely supportive and did everything they can to make our stay a good one.
“Some of the boys were amazed at how much the people here knew about our football club. Their interest in football in general is also a pleasure to be around, and the people are very inquisitive wherever we have gone.
“The players themselves deserve a special mention. To a man they have been fantastic. It was a mixed group and we knew we were bringing a young team over to compete against older players.
“But they stuck together, both on and off the pitch, and they have been a credit to our football club.”