It was almost two years ago when I was first approached by ‘Vanves’ in France with regard to taking over a young football team, writes Liam Beckett.
‘Vanves’ are twinned with Ballymoney and it provided a wonderful opportunity for our young footballers to expand their education and culture as well as sporting values to participate in such a visit.
After some consideration I agreed to accept this invitation and despite a couple of unsuccessful dates being suggested we eventually agreed to sending over an under 12’s cross-community representative football team from Ballymoney and District. So on the weekend of the 15,16,17th of June, off the squad went to compete in what was a 32-team tournament and despite on being on foreign soil our wee team played magnificently winning all of their nine games, to win the tournament outright.
Equally outstanding was the fact that throughout the entire competition, which involved playing nine games, the team never conceded one goal, fantastic to say the least.
As I was unable to accompany the team in person, I gave long and considerable thought to just who I could appoint to oversee the team in my absence and I chose local lads Gary Little and Adrian Doherty. I knew these two gentlemen have the correct personalities to not only identify with young players but also to have the respect of everyone. What an outstanding choice they both proved to be.
Both Gary and Adrian deserve tremendous credit of the outstanding manner in which they both conducted the entire trip.
As well as Gary and Adrian I would also like to thank the kids for the superb manner in which they represented the Borough of Ballymoney, all the parents and custodians were tremendously supportive from the outset, the Ballymoney Twinning Association for all their support and organisation qualities, Ballymoney Borough Council for their willingness to help and support at all times, Glebe Rangers for the supply of their mini-bus including their driver (and manager) Peter Cairns, to all of the sponsors and players who helped fund-raise at a Golf Day at Galgorm Golf Club, to Antoinnne in ‘Vanves’ France, who looked after absolutely everything in France, including accommodation, transport, food and an itinerary for the entire party which included a Boat Trips and a visit to the ‘Eiffel’ Tower. All in all a truly wonderful and successful visit for all concerned and to return home victorious with the winners trophy was simply the icing on the cake, many thanks to all concerned and well done.