Ebbsfleet U12 Whites ended an already successful season with a tournament win and a trip to St George’s Park, the home of England’s 24 national teams, to compete in the ESF Grande finale 2017. The team reached that stage after winning the Butlin’s ESF Regional trophy at Bognor in April/May and the tournament is dubbed a “Champion of Champions” event.
Team manager Andy Arnott reports that the boys started their day watching Crystal Palace training while trying to get as many selfies as they possibly could with players including Wilfried Zaha, Pape Souaré, Damien Delaney and manager Frank de Boer.
The lads started the tournament brightly, dominating against Carshalton and winning 1-0 after carving out numerous chances . The second game against Rothwell from Leeds saw the Fleet again dominate again but they just couldn’t score and Rothwell nicked it 1-0 with their one deflected shot.
The boys were a little down but a little bit of encouragement from the management assured them that four wins would be enough, as all these teams will beat each other. It was a big ask to win three games, but the Fleet lads won their third game against Rymney Juniors from Wales by 1-0.
The next game was a must-win – Tipton from Birmingham were a big, mean-looking team and were unbeaten. The Fleet saved their best performance for this and a great passing game produced a 2-0 lead at half-time. Fleet shut up shop and the game turned a little ugly but Fleet’s discipline saw them through.
A win in the final game would secure the champions trophy – and it was Fleet v Hetton Juniors from Newcastle, another beast of a team! Fleet missed two sitters but the boys kept going and hit home a scramble from a corner. The last five minutes of the game was on a knife edge: Hetton had four free kicks on the edge of the Fleet box but new keeper Ben was superb, keeping out everything thrown at him and Fleet secured the win.
Everyone at the club would like to wish the U12 Whites all the best on a fantastic achievement to be crowned national ESF champions, a fully deserved accolade… even more so considering they had to dig deep for it.
The Fleet management said it was an amazing weekend at a fantastic facility and gave the boys excellent bonding time and a vision of what they could achieve at the top of the game if they work hard.