It’s not every day you get asked if you want to apply for a place on a fully funded Sports Tour as a 16-18 year old! That’s exactly what happened to the Club Doncaster Sports College students earlier this year!
A trip that is a welcomed sight in the Sports College diary each year, more so after the cancellation of a handful of trips during Covid, students were given the opportunity to fill in an application form to be a part of the highly anticipated, two week European Sports Tour to Utrecht, Holland.
After a bumpy start to the trip, with long delays on the motorway, and a mad dash through security to their airport gate, 25 students and 4 staff members took to the sky, from Gatwick Airport, before touching down at a sunny Schiphol airport.
Students experienced a range of sporting activities within the two weeks in Utrecht.
Following a number of days of training, students were given the opportunity to play against some of the local teams. The mens team played in two fixtures during the second week of their tour, scoring an impressive 10 goals between them. The ladies team got on the scoresheet too with a fantastic worked team goal within the first half of their game, but unfortunately succumbed to the talent they faced.
They also took in some local sports in their downtime, with paddleball and bowling at a local centre close to the base camp.
Within their time in Utrecht, students also developed their coaching and officiating, with the unique experience of working with mini soccer teams, with children as young as 5 years old. They were required to use non-verbal communication along with the Dutch they had picked up prior to the trip, to help with training sessions and also refereeing mini soccer games.
Staff and students were also invited to visit Utrecht’s Sports College, a similar set up to our very own Sports College, which was situated at the stadium and boasted magnificent facilities, from a well equipped gym, to numerous sports halls, a swimming pool alongside many classrooms and study areas, with interactive mental and physical activities within the college.
Not only did they get to play their own fixtures, they experienced games from local professional teams too. A specific highlight being the FC Utrecht vs FC Twente fixture, where they cheered on the home side to a crucial 1:0 win.
The group were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the Utrecht stadium itself a few days later, getting to view the stadium and many of its VIP assets, including the hospitality sections, press areas and home and away changing rooms and have pitch side photographs too.
Students and staff rounded off their sports tour with a smaller local football game between Jong Utrecht vs Jong Ajax, just a stones throw away from the FC Utrecht stadium itself.
Matty Thompson, one of the students who took part in the sports tour, spoke of his experience: “It was a fantastic experience and I’m glad I was given the opportunity to go.
“This was just one of the many incredible opportunities the Sports College provided for us.
“Being able to play football and coach in a different country and learn about the local culture, has helped me gain new skills and given me memories that will last for a lifetime.”
Ben Thompson, Deputy Principal, who headed up the planning and organising of the trip said: “As staff, we are delighted with the success of the European tour and the incredible memories and experiences it has created for our students.
“I would like to thank the Doncaster College International team, Linda and Liam for their support in sourcing and booking our travel and accommodation, with 25 students and 4 staff and the time scales we worked in, their support was invaluable.
“During our time in Utrecht, we experienced professional football matches, cultural trips, tried some amazing local cuisine and the learners had the opportunity to play matches against local sides in fantastic surroundings. Again, I'd like to thank Robin, Nico, Toby, Maurice, Arnold, Gerrit and John (and many others) for supporting us whilst we were in Utrecht.
“We’re looking forward to offering our students more opportunities like this.”
The European Sports Tour continues to offer the fantastic opportunities for students to broaden their horizons and explore new cultures and this trip was no exception.
Do you want to study at the heart of professional sport in Doncaster, and have the opportunity to be involved in trips like this? Applications for 2024/25 are now open! Year 11’s can apply online via the Sports College website, here.