FROM the New York to the Nou Camp – that switch some lucky would-be sports stars made as part of their training is the joy some very lucky students are experiencing at the moment.
Rotherham United’s Community Sports Trust Shadow Academy squad set up camp for a week’s worth of warm-weather training at Cambrils Park Sports Village in Spain.
The 16 to 19 year-olds soaked up the atmosphere of their temporary surroundings on the Costa Dorada, complete with 24 deg C temperatures.
For many of them, it was their first chance live independently away from home.
And they tapped into Spanish football culture with matches against teams from Spanish football a tour of Barcelona FC’s legendary Nou Camp Stadium.
Jamie Noble (40), RUFC’s head of community, travelled with the young players.
Jamie said: “The trust has over 120 players studying at the New York Stadium to learn the vital skills and knowledge they need to become adults.
“We regularly run activities like this to give students an opportunity for a professional experience with some fantastic resources here.
“Our lads have had the chance to be educated at a state of the art complex.
“It’s a tiny glimmer of what they’d experience as first team players so it’s really beneficial for them.”
The RUFC’s head of community also said the experience was helping to develop the players as young adults.
“They players are learning how to behave, not just as footballers, but as independent adults.
“It’s about being responsible by how they train, what they eat and how they conduct themselves.
“I’ve been really impressed with them and they are a credit to the club.
“Some have never been abroad before so this is a real eye-opening experience and one they will never forget.”
A highlight of the training camp was going on a tour around the Nou Camp to see some treasures from some of the greatest players and teams on the planet.
Jamie said: “They have won everything in football - including numerous Champions League titles - and are one of the best footballing sides in history.
“When you think of who has played for Barcelona in front of 99,000 fans in that stadium — Maradona, Messi and Ronaldinho — it’s incredible.
“It’s inspirational for our young lads to train even harder and live the right way to become professional footballers by seeing all the trophies and Messi’s Ballon d'Or awards.
“The lads got to see all the titles they’ve won - it was a long tour!
“Paul Warne has been in touch with the lads to give them encouragement and support, along with a few former players.”
Students on the tour had nothing but good things to say about their experiences in Spain.
Owen Kelly (18) said: “It's been brilliant. I have been on a lot of trips away playing football but nothing as good as this.
“The facilities have been outstanding and the highlight has been visiting the Camp Nou.”
Cameron Anderson (17), another student. added: “It's been fantastic.
“This is the first trip away to play football and I have really enjoyed it.
“I have had a really good time and enjoyed visiting the Camp Nou and training at some brilliant facilities.”
James Mahoney (34), RUFC’s Education Manager, praised the student’s behaviour whilst they were in Spain.
He said: "The trip has been a fantastic experience for the students and I am extremely proud of the way they have conducted themselves on and off the pitch.
“They have been a real credit to Rotherham United and RUCST due to their professionalism and attitude.”