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Exactly a year since our Academy players set off for the town of Arnhem in the Netherlands, to enjoy a training camp at the wonderful National Sports Centre Papendal, they headed to Murcia Spain for another fantastic European experience.

A flight in the small hours from Glasgow Prestwick meant an early arrival and check in at Thalasia Costa de Mucia Hotel & Spa. Soon after settling, lunch was had before heading to their training base at Pinatar Arena.

The players enjoyed the extensive gymnasium, immaculate grass pitches, padel tennis courts, football tennis and copious amounts of bottled water on offer on their first day and throughout the training camp.

Academy Lead David Burns explained, “Our second day of the camp took us on a trip to Villarreal. The players trained well in the morning before hopping on the coach headed for Valencia. A stop at Mercabanyal food court allowed everyone to refuel and relax in the afternoon sunshine. The burgers at Hundred proved the popular choice. Afterwards, it was onward to Villarreal and the Estadio de la Cerámica to take in the game between the Yellow Submarine and Diego Simeone’s Athletico de Madrid. An early lead for Athletico made for a fairly low key atmosphere but an equaliser soon into the second half provided an exciting end to the game, with Athletico netting the winner with minutes to go.

“An enjoyable day in Villarreal was followed by the serious business of competitive games against Spanish opposition. Our first game for both age groups saw FC Cartagena visit the Pinatar Arena. The games were excellently pitched and both close encounters. Cartagena proved to be technically astute but much more physical than anticipated which the players seemed to enjoy.

“The players enjoyed rest and recovery on return to Thalasia, with use of the outdoor cold pool, indoor pool alongside sauna and spa facilities.

“A second day of competitive games saw Real Murcia CF and Orihuela CF visit Pinatar to play our U16s and U18s respectively. These games were more challenging than the day previous with both technically more astute and even more physical. Alongside this, the warm weather and our limited number of players added to the difficulty of the task. Our U16s group found things particularly problematic and struggled to maintain discipline in response to the opposition. Our U18s group, provided a better match for their opposition but couldn’t quite find the energy as the game progressed. The Orihuela players and staff were excellent, both friendly and courteous.

“The final day in Spain was spent relaxing with some football tennis at Pinatar. A really good atmosphere amongst the group was enjoyed as a real togetherness was realised.

“Our second training camp abroad was a thoroughly enjoyable experience from my perspective and I hope all the players enjoyed themselves too. As a coaching team we learned a lot about the group, gaining new insight into all of the players both in a football sense but more importantly understanding more about them personally/socially. It was great, a real privilege for us.

“I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all coaches for the tremendous help and support throughout the entire camp. Without a dedicated group of willing volunteers, a successful camp would never have been possible. Thanks also must go to all of the staff at Pinatar Arena and Thalasia Costa de Mucia Hotel & Spa, their help and support was fantastic.

“Football aside…we’ve created memories with a fantastic group of young people which we’ll all hold forever.”