China Tour 2016 Part 1

Sunday 10th July 2016 –  4.00pm

Team meet at Heathrow Terminal 3

China Tour 2016 Heathrow Team

Great journey  from Heathrow to Dubai…6 hours. 3 hour stop over in Dubai, and then a further 8 hours to Shanghai.

China Tour Flight

Arrived at our base (Nanyang High School)  at 1am Tuesday to be greeted to a red carpet reception from the Principal and around 20 volunteers/organisers/committee members. The Principal did a nice speech to welcome VLUK to China and his School.

We had a quick bite to eat in the canteen and then time for bed.


Tuesday Morning 8am – 12th July

Fabulous buffet breakfast to start the day with.   full English, full chinese or continental…take your pick…………I picked all three YUM!

9.00am – Light training session for an hour at our Training Base to get a feel for the climate and pitch in preparation for our opening game versus China ‘A’ on Wednesday afternoon.

We got a feel for the climate, bloody baking hot 35c, 200% humidity and 8 changes of clothing a day!

2pm – myself and Dan Godfrey attended the welcome meeting and be briefed on rules, regulations and format of the competition.

2pm –  4 players attended the rehearsals for the opening Ceremony

4pm – Lunch for all 16 teams

5pm – Opening Ceremony. This was re-located indoor to the large University auditorium due to the hot weather conditions. A spectacular show with many performances to showcase Chinese culture. VLUKs banner was proudly displayed along with 15 other schools/Colleges/Football Academies, from across 14 countries worldwide

China opening ceremony 1China VLUK banner

China opening ceremony 2China Opening Ceremony 3

7pm – two teams, Australia and China B, played in the opening match of the tournament with an exciting 3-3 draw

9.30pm – After experiencing the Shanghai traffic, we arrived back at Nanyang High School for a quick light bite before Bed


Wednesday 13th July 2016 – Match Day one

After a relaxing morning, the team met for a pre-match meeting to go through the starting line- up, tactics, formation and game management of the climate, fluid intake, et.

Kick-off 4pm China (Xiamen) v Great Britain (VLUK)

China Tour Match 1

Weather conditions 32c Cloudy hot and very humid

A really positive opening 45 minutes, saw VLUK take a two-goal lead. The first goal was from the penalty spot. Charlie Ruff stepped up to score the opener with a cool finish to the keeper’s right.

Despite numerous opportunities to increase their lead, Conor Laurella finally added a second goal after the half hour.

Half time – China 0   VLUK 2

VLUK continued to dominate the game but created fewer chances this half. VLUK’s third and final goal came from a neat finish from Brian Mukobo-Pandu.

China scored a late consolation with their first real attempt on target.

FULL TIME – China 1   Great Britain 3.


Evening  ‘Culture Course’ Activity

After dinner, the lads attended a ‘Wash painting’ session led by one of the teachers at Nanyang High School. The boys were able to display their artist talents.


Thursday 14th July – Matchday two

With an early kick off time at 9am, the boys needed to be up early to prepare themselves for a match against a very strong Thailand side, which included many of their National Youth team.

Many of the players were still feeling the effect of the match from the previous evening, so Liam Foster, physio was an extremely busy man trying to ensure we had a full re-energised squad.

Match 2 – Thailand v Great Britain

China Tour Match 2

After a disastrous start which saw VLUK slump to a 4-0 deficit within 20 mins, the management team feared the worst. With the temperature at 33C, and the Thai team playing some fantastic football, the lads needed to dig deep.

Half time – Thailand 5   Great Britain 0

The second half was a much better game. VLUK made some changes and started to compete much better, creating numerous good opportunities but failed to work the keeper. On the other hand, Thailand scored to more fabulous individual goals to command a 7-0 lead. With 20 minutes still remaining, the thunder, lightning and torrential rain came which forced the referee to take the players off the pitch for safety reasons. After 25 mins the players returned. The temperature fell by about 10c, the rain was still falling and all of a sudden it felt like the game was being played in England! The boys completely dominated possession, enjoying the weather conditions, but unfortunately missed 3 glorious opportunities to get on the scoresheet.

The boys were very gracious in defeat and took the opportunity to congratulate the opponents on a terrific performance. Good luck to the Thailand team, who were an absolute pleasure to watch. Every player was a technically gifted footballer as well as being very good athletes. I wouldn’t be surprised if, and hope that they win the tournament.

Final score – Thailand 7 Great Britain 0

This now means VLUK have to beat USA tomorrow to qualify in second place and ensure they are entitled to carry on in the main competition against the elite teams.

Afternoon Activity – after lunch, we decided to hit the Metro train and head for the ‘Fake’ Market in Shanghai. The two-hour shopping spree saw the boys buy more fake designer gear than you could ever imagine By early evening many of the branded logos were beginning to fall or rub off!!!

Evening Cultural Activity

Time for a bit of Tai Chi. The 75-year old teacher put us all to shame as she introduced us to some of the basic moves/routines of the Martial Art of Tai Chi The balance, flexibility and coordination skills required to perform successfully were sadly missing from staff and students!

Just finished watching ‘London has fallen (DVD from fake market!) in our meeting room and now time for bed!

However once again  the group had done themselves and VLUK proud with their sheer enthusiasm around the High School, in activities, on the football field and in the spectator areas. They have become firm favourites with the Chinese organisers as they have added something completely different to the tournament.

The trip so far has been amazing. The food has been brilliant, the organisers and helpers first class. Red carpets everywhere! Every game, feels like a professional game. Security is unbelievable, guards everywhere 24 hours a day.