The team from behind the scenes in Northern Ireland (from left to right): Phil Stokes (Youth Development Phase Lead Coach and Academy Manager), Kevin Nancekivell (Team Manager), Abner Bruzzichessi (Physiopherapist), Chris Harrison (Head of Youth Recruitment), Alex Booth (Video Analyst), Dan Greenough (Video Analyst and Coach).
Tournaments like the Northern Ireland SuperCup invariably centre on the young players but without the hard work of those behind the scenes the games would simply not take place.
Five members of the Academy, plus myself as Media Liaison, travelled to our base at Portrush for the usual stay at the excellent Prospect House where Alva Wilson and her delightful family look after us in style.
The atmosphere is very homely for the young lads, many who are away from their parents for the first time, and the food and accomodation is first class.
With that aspect of the trip always taken care of it is then down to the Academy staff to arrange the week which will include training sessions, match preparations and several trips to the excellent beach for swimming which helps the tired limbs of young players who are playing five games in five days.
Brazilian Physio Abner Bruzzichessi is kept busy dealing with the knocks and bruises that come with competitive football, especially when you have a player stretchered off in the second game.
Young striker Dominic Osborne was subject to an horrendous challenge by the Mexican central defender in the defeat by Chivas but the skill of Abner plus the healing powers of young limbs saw him fit to play in the last two games, only missing the third group game agains NC Elite.
Phil Stokes was charged with organising the games with Head Coach Kevin Nancekivell in charge of the side and the tactics which included a nightly review of the video analyis of the previous game.
That video footage was supplied by Dan Greenough, also the joker of the pack, and newby Alex Booth who doubled up as kit men as well.
The pair would leave early for games to lay out all the kit for the youngsters before going to the pitch to set up the impressive gear they use to film the match.
Alex Booth (left) and Dan ‘Andy, Jimmy’ Greenough set up the video camera prior to the game at the Riada Stadium, Ballymoney.
Booth was not the only one experiencing the SuperCup for the first time as Head of Youth Recruitment Chris Harrison also travelled with the group and was busy watching Argyle’s games as well as at least two other games each day.
Talent spotting and making valuable contacts, which included a very interest coach and boss of the American outfit NC Elite, where made and will surely be invaluable in the future.
The team were also joined by Northern Ireland based goalkeeper coach Alan Young who had been recommended by first team manager Derek Adams and would take part in the pre-match warm-up for each game.
The Academy staff are off on their travels again as this weekend they took the under-12s and 14s to the Southampton Cup tournament.
The youngsters will be in Hampshire for a week until Saturday, August 12 and the games will all be played at The Saints Staplewoods Training Ground.
The under-18s played their final pre-season game before yesterday’s opening Youth Allliance fixture against league new-boys Forest Green Rovers.
They made the short trip to Plymouth Marjons to take on the University’s Peninsula side and were comfortable 4-0 winners in a game that proved to be a valuable work-out.
The young Pilgrims enjoyed a positive start with two early goals from Luke Jephcott, with a good finish on three minutes, and Aaron Goulty on nine minutes.
Argyle played a quick passing game forcing a number of set plays and could have had a few more goals before the break.
Two second half goals from substitutes Rio Garside, on 70 minutes, and Sam Ryan, on 88 minutes, when both players were on the back post to finish off some creative build-up play, wrapped up victory.
Plymouth Argyle: Michael Cooper, Harry Hodges, Ryan Law, Michael Peck (Dan Rooney 72), Tom Purrington, Harry Downing, Billy Craske (Sam Ryan 65), Adam Randell (Matt Ward 60), Luke Jephcott (Alex Battle 72), Aaron Goulty, Cameron Sangster (Rio Garside 60).