Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Phil Ball in Spain

Two summers ago, my son Harry asked me if he and some mates from school could enter the Donosti Cup - a prestigious international football tournament held here in San Sebastián every July. The parents would stump up the entry fee, but only on the condition that I be the coach. At first I said no, because I couldn't see myself finding the time to get them ready and to take it seriously, but in the end I was persuaded to take on the Mourinho mantle. My son, and another kid who now plays for the Real Sociedad 'Juvenil' side, were the only two club players, but the rest were a bunch of ne'er-do-wells whose only real experience of football was the school playground. It was going to be tough, because in the Donosti Cup you can not only come across similar ragged-arsed opponents but also youth sides from professional clubs around the world, sent to the tournament as an annual work-out. Chelsea and Tottenham have occasionally sent teams, Valencia and Villarreal send sides almost every year, and South American and African clubs are well represented, along with the USA.

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