A team of young Island footballers enjoyed a dream trip to Wembley thanks to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
Eleven youngsters from Union Mills FC’s under-9s team travelled to London this month to take part in the National Football Festival, with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company providing the players and their coaches free travel between the Island and England.
The Festival, which is supported by the English FA and McDonalds, saw 56 teams invited from the various FA football ‘counties’, with Union Mills under-9s nominated to represent the Island. Not only did the youngsters get to play at Wembley, they also met England legends Michael Owen, Sir Trevor Brooking and Sir Geoff ‘they think it’s all over, it is now’ Hurst.
Michael Fitzmaurice, one of the club’s under-9s coaches, said: ‘It was a fantastic experience for the children. The day was separated into two parts – friendly matches and coaching sessions in the morning, and then on to the Wembley pitch in the afternoon to play matches on the hallowed turf.
‘Our lads played five games at the festival against teams from all over the UK and we won two, drew two and lost just the once. All the boys played very well and more than held their own against their peers.
‘We also played a friendly match on Wednesday evening prior to going to the England v Hungary match, and the boys drew 4-4 with St Joseph’s Youth 88 FC from Harrow. We would like to make a special mention to all at St Joseph’s Youth 88 FC for their very warm welcome and hospitality shown to ourselves during our visit.’
Michael added: ‘We must also thank our sponsors – the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company was the main supporter for the trip, covering our travel expenses on and off the Island, and we are also thankful for the support offered by 4 Hire, Shoprite, Bibby Ship Management, Primo IT and NK Joinery.’
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘The National Football Festival is a fantastic event for youngsters, giving them the opportunity to test their skills against children from around the UK, and we’re delighted to have been able to support Union Mills FC and help their under-9s take part in what is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to play at Wembley.’