DNC, they think it's all over… It is Now!
During their first year with us our talented Year 7 football team were inching closer to a spectacular achievement - representing their country in the world's largest international youth football tournament for 10 - 12 year olds.
In total 2.5 million children from 10 000 clubs and 32 000 schools in 32 different countries took part in this year's Danone Nations Cup and nine students from Cardinal Heenan played in the final at Wembley!
They were Ethan Sansbury Maddox, Sam Clarke, Tom Williams, Bobby Duncan*, Jack Heard, Sonny Hilton, Patrick Haskell, Luca Connell and Ellis Jones. They were also joined by three students from Emerson Sports Academy in London (who we beat in the semi-final of the national heats of the competition in May at The Hive in London).
Over six months our boys consistently outperformed their rivals on the pitch in local, regional and national heats and at the start of June were crowned Team England at the home of the FA, St George's Park in Stafford.
In the final week of the summer term the team enjoyed a motivational masterclass with Paul and Tom Ince and in August they travelled to Derby for some intensive training ahead of the world final.
The team left for London on the first day of the new term, Wednesday 4 September, in the wee small hours of the morning to take part in the opening ceremony and play group stage matches at Surrey Sports Park over the next two days.
Whilst in Guildford the boys won five of their six matches and had the chance to meet and mingle with counterparts from Japan, Brazil, Canada and Mexico. They also took part in a range of sporting and educational activities.
With the little help of an interpreter team captain Luca Connell interviewed footballing legend and Danone ambassador Zinedine Zidane for CBBC's MOTD as part of its coverage of the tournament, establishing that he thought Frank Lampard was the most talented premier league player!
On Saturday 7 September 25 000 spectators packed the stands at Wembley Stadium for the final day of action in the tournament. All teams had a showing on the hallowed pitch, England faced down Russia and won 3 - 0 much to delight of the home crowd. France won the world final on penalties after a tense game against the Brazilian side.
England finished ninth overall however the boys can certainly be proud of their achievements both on the pitch and off. Team coach Mr Forgie was inundated with praise and positive comments about the team.
Mr Forgie said after the final: "As experiences go for young players who live for football this competition has got to be one of the greatest sporting initiatives ever. The atmosphere at the final was incredible and our team were so grateful for everyone who supported us. DNC 2013 is something myself and the boys will never, ever forget."
Here are some of the team's personal highlights from the experience:
- "Playing head tennis every day to warm up before our matches"
- "Scoring a goal at Wembley"
- "Hearing that music when you run down the tunnel and on to the pitch at Wembley"
- "Coming in the players entrance at Wembley"
- "Meeting Zinedine Zidane"
- "Getting all those free little yogurts"
- "Using the same changing rooms as the England squad"
- "Getting interviewed by Sky Sports"
- "Getting and giving high fives to all the other teams and countries taking part"
- "Being on the telly."
Over three days the boys played seven matches and racked up an impressive 20 goals, played at Wembley, met a footballing genius and represented their country in front of thousand people and were interviewed on Sky Sports!
The lads are all still in touch with honorary Heenan lads Tom, Charlie and Aji from Emerson after bonding over an amazing experience.
*Bobby left Cardinal Heenan following this tournament to join the Manchester City Football Academy. He was named 'Scorer of the Competition' on Saturday. We wish him the best of luck at his new school.
You can see some photos from the tournament here on the school Flickr pages
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