Despite a storm system on the East Coast of the US trying to spoil the start of our Italian adventure, our experienced staff tried their best to ensure that any late arrivals of our 70 travelers would miss as little of their sightseeing in Milan as possible (Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Castello Sforzesco and of course, the San Siro Stadium, home of AC Milan and Inter Milan)
Next, we were on our way to our pre-tournament training camp on the outskirts of the Historic city of Verona. The facility is so impressive that it is used by various professional clubs and was the ideal way to prepare for our upcoming event. The location also gave the opportunity take in the sights nearby (Roman Amphitheater, Romeo and Juliet’s house/balcony) on our down time.
For the tournament, we were based at the small family resort of Misano, on the Adriatic Coast, with our hotels being only a block or two from the beach. On our way, we stopped off at the scenic peninsula town of Sirmione, on Lake Garda, for a quick boat trip followed by lunch.
One of the highlights of the trip for the players was the Opening Ceremony, which is hosted at San Marino’s National Stadium. While the parents traveling with us were seated inside, behind the scenes, the players got to mix with players and teams from all over the world in a Carnival-like atmosphere. They then walked into the Stadium with the National Anthem being played, and given that the US has by far the biggest presence outside the home nation, they received a rapturous welcome.
As for the Tournament itself, each age group had quite a few select teams from Europe and the US too. Our teams were competitive despite only being formed to take part in this particular event. It was a fantastic experience for them, competing against teams of different levels playing styles.
One very special moment was our older boys team playing against a team from Tanzania. It stood out not only for the manner in which the game was played on the field, but the social aspect after when both teams got together for photos. This continued outside the stadium when both sets of parents had a chance to meet at the snack bar. These life long memories are what everyone will remember and why these European tours are so special.
In addition to having some time at the beach during that week, we also managed an evening at the Medieval Fortress town of Gradara for dinner. After dinner, the Castle gates are closed, and there was an interactive show, where people in traditional attire mingle with the crowds and entertain them.
Our Italian adventure ended with two nights in the unforgettable City of Rome. While there we managed to take in all the major sights: The Coliseum, St Peters Basilica, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Victor Emmanuel monument, Castel Sant Angelo.
We are looking forward to next year’s FC Global tour to Spain to compete in the Donosti Cup already!