Latics’ Under 18s keep track of their progress during summer preparationsWigan Athletic’s Under 18s and a selection of young professionals visited Denmark this summer in preparation for the 2015-16 season in the Football League Youth Alliance and Final Third Development League.
The trip was funded through Erasmus+ (UK National Agency), part of Ecorys UK, a company who promote work experience placements across Europe.
Wigan Athletic would like to thank David Roe, from Navistas Sports, who also helped to achieve the funding and execute the trip successfully.
Special mentions also go to AC Horsens, FC Silkeborg, OB, and FC Nordjsaelland – who accommodated the club for friendly fixtures.
Below is a selection of blogs written by the players about their experiences in Denmark.
MONDAY 20 JULY – Alex Lingard and Nathan Randell
We arrived at Christopher Park at midday. Everyone was excited for the trip because hardly anyone had been to Denmark before. Before leaving for the airport we had a team photo outside the coach.
The original flight was from Manchester Airport to Amsterdam which took around an hour, we then took a second flight to Denmark. The journey took about five hours with some waiting around in the airports, so we wanted to get to the hotel quickly once we’d landed to find out who we’d be rooming with.
I (Alex) was put in a room with my good friend (Nathan) Randell and Theo Roberts, the Ashfield Park Warrior.
After the travelling it was difficult to sleep, but we soon settled down once Gregor (Rioch) told us to be quiet for being too loud.
TUESDAY 21 JULY – Sam Stubbs and Luke Burke
The day didn’t start on the best note, we got disciplined because a few of the lads stayed up late. We were told we were going to do some hard cardiovascular work.
We had a healthy breakfast with eggs, toast, muesli, granola, water and juices, then it was out onto the field at 11.00am sharp.
We did an intense but enjoyable warm up with the new strength and conditioning coach Adam (Forrest). Then it was into some technical passing drills with three midfielders rotating and linking the play with people overlapping them. This was done at high intensity for 20-30 minutes with some really good combinations between the lads.
We then went into a small sided game, seven versus seven, with a floater. We did three sets of four minutes and it was really high intensity. It was great to see the lads taking it so seriously, the passing play looked like it was working with some really good goals coming from Luke Burgess, Chris Merrie and Tom Powell.
After the tough session we did some recovery in the pool to ease our muscles up, along with some light stretching and some light swimming.
Our lunch consisted of salad, pasta, bread, fruit, potatoes and meat, all the key foods we needed for recovery and to build strength.
After that we had some down time to relax, before we were back out at 1.00pm. The session focussed on attacking shape, and a finishing game which is always fun, although there were some awful finishes, mainly from the defenders!!!
The second session was short and sweet because we had a game the following day.
WEDNESDAY 22 JULY – Match day v AC Horsens U17s - Luke Burgess
Today was very successful, we had a great win against AC Horsens 9-1, a very good performance to match the result.
I played out of position, but that was fine as me and Alex Lingard had some good combination down the left hand side.
The first goal came from a switch of play by Josh Gregory out to me, I took it past their full back and played in James Barrigan to start the scoring. A number of goals came, and then I got another assist for Baz (James Barrigan).
A mistake at the back led to Horsens getting a goal, only for us to run rampage in the second half. Nathan Randell got a hat-trick in the second half, which was great for his confidence.
WEDNESDAY 22 JULY – Match day v AC Horsens U19s – Callum Lang
It was our first game in Denmark and a great start to the trip with a 4-2 victory. Tom Powell, Chris Sang and myself with two goals helped us to get the win.
The team looked very strong playing some great football. Will (Ryder) was very happy with the way we played and the way the team worked hard, especially out of possession, winning the ball back in areas high up the pitch, which gave us plenty of chances and we probably should have scored more.
THURSDAY 23 JULY – Jack White
It was a recovery day for the whole squad after two successful friendlies.
Before breakfast we were in the pool at 8.00am. At 9.00am, after breakfast, we had a light session doing walkthroughs and stretching.
After training we had lunch. We were still getting used to the Danish food. After lunch we had some time to ourselves before getting the train into the town centre for a walk and a look around. Some of the squad went for food and others went for a walk and a look around the shops.
It was dinner back at the hotel and then education during the evening, time for our initiations, some of the singers were a lot better than other, but it would be harsh to mention any names.
FRIDAY 24 JULY – Chris Merrie and Arnie Baxendale
Breakfast was at 8.30am before training. It was a good session and we were preparing for our second match of the trip against Silkeborg IF. We worked on shape, and learned about different ways of playing in and out of possession.
Not long after lunch we went into the pool for recovery, which also included stretching for around 30 minutes. Lunch was nice again with a variety of different local meats and fish.
After our recovery we had some free time to just relax in the pool, but it was cut short when Mike Hurn organised a game of water polo. This was great for team bonding. It was first years against second years and the first year pros. Unfortunately the first years lost, but it was still fun.
We were travelling straight after the game the next day, so we packed our suitcases ready and then finished our night with our evening meal and education, which consisted of a presentation on strength and conditioning from Adam.
SATURDAY 25 JULY – Match day U17s v Silkeborg IF – Jamie Cotter
The weather was awful when we woke up, the rain was non-stop and we were worried the game would be called off. We all met in the dining room for 8.30am breakfast and were told the matches would be going ahead, which was great because we were all confident having won our last matches.
We went out to warm up, but the pitch chosen for us was waterlogged, fortunately the facilities were excellent and there were a number of other pitches available.
We started the game really well and were 3-0 up by half time thanks to two goals from Callum Lang and one from Chris Sang. At half time, under shelter from the rain, our coach Will said he was very happy with the performance, but didn’t want our levels to drop.
The opposition were more competitive in the second half, putting in more challenges, but we were able to stay strong and keep a clean sheet.
After the game we were straight into the pool to recover because after lunch we were travelling for two hours to the next hotel.
SUNDAY 26 JULY – Tom Powell
We visited Odense Zoo on our day off. Breakfast was early so we could make the most of the day, and we walked from the hotel to the zoo which took about 30 minutes. It was good to walk so that we could take in the sights a bit more.
The zoo was huge in inside; it was voted the best in Europe for its variety of species and immaculate surroundings. It was a friendly environment and the animals were clearly well looked after.
All round it was a good day to relax and learn some new things.
MONDAY 27 JULY – Matty Rimmer and Theo Roberts
We got up a bit later than normal and were down for breakfast at 9.00am. Later on in the morning we had a training session at OB (Odense Boldklub), the facilities were of an excellent standard.
After the session we had a chat with their Head of Youth Development, Uffe, he taught us about Danish scholars and professionals, and it made us realise what an opportunity we have, because there aren’t many professionals in Denmark.
In the afternoon we were given some free time to either relax or go shopping in Odense. Later in the evening we stretched in the pool, before dinner at 7.00pm, education at 8.00pm and an early night ahead of the game the next day.
TUESDAY 28 JULY – Match day v Odense Boldklub (U19) – Matthew Taylor
We were down for breakfast by 8.00am for pre-match food and preparation, for what was the most important game of the pre-season tour so far.
The warm up was successful; apart from centre back Sam Stubbs who managed to break his nose in a clash with Alex Lingard.
The atmosphere for the game was overwhelming, there was a fairly large crowd and we played on a great pitch. The game was sharp and dominated by us from the first whistle. The goals came quickly, with Tom Powell scoring first thanks to a great assist from Arnie Baxendale. James Barrigan scored the second and then a dangerous cross from Jack White resulted in an own goal.
Odense pulled a goal back to 3-1, but we persisted and carried on our goal scoring, with Chris Sang set up by myself, before Baz (James Barrigan) finished the game off with a quick turn and finish.
WEDNESDAY 29 JULY – Charlie Forecast
We visited Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen on our day off after the game against Odense. The first mistake my group made was going on the rides for children at the start. It wasn’t exactly adrenaline pumping.
After that we made our way to the biggest rides, a much better idea and much more enjoyable.
We went for lunch and chose the healthiest food we could after receiving a talk on nutrition during our education session a few nights before.
A lot of the day was spent queuing for rides and it got a little boring, especially with Sangy’s (Chris Sang) running commentary and Tom Powell backing out of one of the rides after 30 minutes of queuing. When we were 30 metres up in the air and looking down at the ground, I thought Tom’s decision was a wise one.
The park was tiring, so it was great to get back to the hotel. We relaxed for a bit and me, Chris Merrie and Sam Stubbs caught up on the Ashes on Stubbsy’s laptop.
THURSDAY 30 JULY – Matty Rimmer
We got up a bit earlier than normal because we were supposed to be doing three sessions throughout the day, but because everyone was still a bit tight and tired we reduced the sessions to two.
We got up for breakfast at 8.30am and were out on the grass by 10.30am. It was a good session with high intensity from the whole squad.
Lunch was at 12.30pm, with two hours downtime to relax and catch up on sleep before a recovery session in the pool until 4.00pm. We were then given three hours before dinner and education.
After education some of us played pool, others played darts and some just relaxed. It was lights out at 10.30pm ahead of the next day’s training session.
FRIDAY 31 JULY – Josh Beaumont and Josh Gregory
We woke up at 8.00am ahead of breakfast at 8.30am, and then out onto the training pitch by 103.0am.
We had a circle with two men in the middle and whoever lost had to buy wine gums, the worst had to buy Jaffa cakes for the coach, those responsibilities went to Kelland (Absalom), Nathan (Randell), Sangy (Chris Sang) and Chris Merrie.
Straight after that we did a very light session due to our game being the next day. We started off doing some injury prevention, before splitting off into groups to do attacking and defending shape work to help with our patterns of play.
We then all joined together for 11 versus 11 shape work and pattern play in preparation for the game.
Later in the day we were allowed to take a walk out onto the pitch at FC Nordsjaelland to get a feel for the surface.
SATURDAY 1 AUGUST – Match day v FC Nordsjaelland U19s – Remell Fitton and Kelland Absalom
Breakfast was at 8.30am and then we were allowed back to our rooms until 10.30am, before going for a pre-match meal.
We were in the changing rooms by 11.30am ready for kick off at 1.00pm. We lost the game 2-0, but played a team older than us which was a good test. We were happy with our performance.
At 4.00pm we went for post-match food and then had time to ourselves, before eating again at 7.00pm to make sure we had consumed enough to keep our energy levels and to help our muscles recover.
In education later on we did a quiz and wrote these daily blogs to reflect on our day and how the experience went. It was really good for learning and analysing our time in Denmark.
Lights out was at a reasonable time ahead of a long day of travelling back home.