Photos (Top to Bottom): The Central Region Under-12 squad which went to South Korea; Central Region coach, Rob Clarke; Assistant coach Nicole Hale (right) in action [PlessPix]
The Central Region under-12s returned from their trip to South Korea yesterday having made many international friends and being worthy representatives of their country and Tasmania.
Their full list of results is:
Central Region 3-4 Valladolid (Spain)
Central Region 0-7 Chungmu (Korea)
Central Region 0-6 Yokohama Mariners (Japan)
Central Region 4-3 Usan (Korea)
Central Region 0-6 Kashima Antlers (Japan)
Ben Wade netted all three goals against Valladolid, while Harrison Briant and Jack Hale each scored a brace against Usan.
“The lesson we learned was how to run a junior football tournament,” said Central Region coach, Rob Clarke.
“It was superbly organised, from the opening dinner and traditional ceremonies, and everyone was treated with respect.
“All the players got to meet each other and the Korean Football Federation president and the mayor of the city of Gyeong Ju, which is where the tournament was held, were present.
“The best thing was how all the kids from all the participating countries mixed and how they were able to communicate.
“They exchanged email addresses and swapped shirts and were given gifts at every stage.”
Clarke said it took his squad 36 hours to reach Gyeong Ju from Hobart. The bust trip from Seoul to Gyeong Ju in the south of the country alone took 5 hours.
Temperatures during the tournament were in the 30s and the humidity was 80 per cent.
Assistant coach of the Central Region squad, Nicole Hale, said: “The football was of a very high standard, especially from the Koreans, Japanese and Chinese.
“It was amazing to see the discipline the other countries implement.
“The Korean head coach, for example, is allowed to beat his players of they do not perform, play well or win. They even have to sit in silence.
“It took us 36 hours to get there, though, so the boys were quite tired for the first few days.
“The English boys, from the Swindon Town Academy, were very arrogant, but they didn’t win a game.
“All their players were already on contracts, which were being reviewed while they were there.
“They were quite strict as well and didn’t let the boys experience the fun activities or see any cultural places.
“For them, it was football, football and more football.
“I was of the opinion that if we travelled all that way it was good to take the boys to see temples, Buddhist statues and other such things and to experience a completely different way of life.
“We even took our lads out for a Korean barbecue, where we all sat on the floor and cooked out own meat over hot coals.
“It was so much fun and something the boys will always remember.
“The Chinese were very tall. One player, who I originally thought must be a member of the coaching staff, was a bit over 180cm and our boys looked so small in comparison.
“Our national anthem was played before our games and that in itself was an amazing feeling.
“The biggest factor for us was the heat. When we played against the Japanese side, they were out in the heat an hour prior to the game. They then played the game and afterwards played another game amongst themselves while we were putting our players in ice baths, wrapping cold towels around them and getting them into ice vests and making sure they were all drinking plenty of water.
“The hospitality that we were shown was second to none. We couldn't have been looked after any better.
“We have a long way to go. It was a fantastic football experience.”