Final Match and FC Barca Home Opener!
We arrived at La Barruana for our final match of the tour. There was only one team available for a game so we combined our own teams of boys and girls into one coed team to play the match. It was a great experience and the other team was very skilled and disciplined.
ASA playing in the final match of the trip!
A competitive and hard fought game under a dramatic sky.
The opposing team scored two goals and we weren't able to capitalize on any of our opportunities. Regardless, it was another hard fought match with great learning opportunities in international play.
Post game, last official match of the trip.
After the match we decided to end our soccer tour with a friendly, ASA Girls vs. ASA Boys — it was a sight to see! The girls netted the first goal and the boys answered back with a quick two.
Coaching Chris bringing the coaching intensity.
However at the end of regulation, Coach Tommy said that there were ineligible players on the boys side making the the match a tie game. This meant PENALTIES! No surprise, the players loved this. After much debate we still weren't quite sure who won the match, but goal line technology favored the girls!
We headed to the hotel to pack and get ready for the FC Barca home opener! But first, a tour of downtown Barcelona —we saw lots of sights including a mountain top view, Las Ramblas, and Sagrada Familia.
Team ASA had a blast cruising the city. We also shared a special moment of solidarity on Las Ramblas remembering the victims of the terrible attack that happened on Thursday.
After the tour we headed to Camp Nou for FC Barcelona vs Real Betis! To see the stadium fill up with so many supporters was unreal!
Team ASA was in awe. To see one of the best teams in the world play was an amazing experience! We saw two awesome goals as well.
We couldn't have enjoyed our time more in Barcelona!
This is where our trip ends, but stay tuned to the international travel page and maybe YOU can come along next time!
A big thank you to all of our hosts — Pedro, Davi, Adu, and Meita! We couldn't have done it without you!
Beach day & Camp Nou tour
We set out for the beach in the morning! We chose a beautiful beach called El Prat located just south of downtown Barcelona. It was a bit overcast, perfect beach weather to enjoy for a few hours!
Team ASA enjoyed time in the water and time on land playing beach futbol! We enjoyed lunch at a traditional beach cafe then headed back to the hotel to prepare for our tour of Camp Nou!
Camp Nou is as magical as you might imagine! Though the stadium is older than some, the history is so rich. We started in the museum and learned about the championships, the players and the history of FC Barcelona.
We moved into the stadium starting high above midfield, taking in the view. From there we went through the visitor locker room, press room, hallway of campeones and onto the field. Each place was better than the last and you could feel the FCB magic!
Last but not least we headed to Futbol Mania, one of the largest soccer stores in the world! Needless to say Team ASA didn't have a problem wandering through that store, taking it all in!
After that, we headed back to the hotel for dinner and sleep, stay tuned for Day 9 — last match & FC Barca home opener!
Futbol Sala at La Masia and a match vs CF Palleja
We started the day walking down the street to La Masia, the new FC Barcelona Futsal training facility. We arrived for our futsal clinic right as the first team was ending their session. Unfortunately we did not catch sight of Messi or Suarez, but we did have an unbelievable experience inside their new futsal facility. FCB staff member, Jordi was welcoming and the players loved the clinic. Their only complaint... they wanted longer than the 1.5 hour session!
ASA players gathered together after an amazing futsal clinic at the incredible FC Barcelona training facility.
After Futsal we headed back to the hotel for lunch and a siesta!
Team ASA had to prepare for their friendly matches against CF Palleja. We headed to another sports complex. The complex included three pools, two fields and locker rooms. They welcomed us with open arms and were so happy to bring nations together during such a sad time here in Barcelona.
The boys were up first! From the whistle the pace of play was fast! The boys stayed focused and played evenly for the first ten minutes. CF Palleja was able to put one away. Our boys kept defending and held them until half time. The second half came with more pressure and we tried to make chances to counter attack.
Unfortunately we were not able to hold them, they scored two quick goals and one more right before the final whistle. The game finished 4-0 with CF Palleja winning the match. Our boys fought hard and learned a lot about international play.
The girls came out strong and ready. They created chances on goal but were unable to put one away. CF Palleja was creative and fast. They netted 2 goals 15 and 20 minutes in, but ASA kept going and fought until halftime. In the second half we hit the crossbar and edged one right outside the goal. They dominated play for most of second half but just couldn't finish, the game ended 2-0, CF Palleja was victorious.
The girls showed grit and determination and also learned a lot from international play.
We headed to the hotel for dinner and a good nights rest!
Stay tuned for Day 8 — Beach day & Camp Nou tour!
FC Barcelona Escola Soccer Clinic at Mini Estadi
We woke up to a beautiful day in Barcelona and headed to the top of the city, Mount Tibidabo! We looked down over the entire city and enjoyed the amazing views. At the top of the hill sits the beautiful Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor or Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Tibidabo.
ASA players on top of the world! (ok, ok, on top of the tallest mountain in Serra de Coliserola)
ASA coaches enjoying the view as well!
Our group enjoyed the amusement park, souvenir stores and the beautiful church.
The beautiful scene at the top of the mountain.
After our time at Mount Tibidabo we headed downtown to Port Vell and the gothic quarter. We walked around this area and ate authentic Tapas! We only had a couple hours before our training clinic at Mini Estadia.
FCBarcelona Escola hosted us for a soccer clinic across from Camp Nou at the Mini Estadia. Our players and coaches were happy to work with four FCB Staff coaches. Messi, Pique and Iniesta all train at these same grounds. Our players even learned a new style of Rondos!
Coaches Chris, Katie and Will strolling into the Barca tunnel like they own it! :)
Wrapping up a training session our coaches and players will never forget.
After the training session we headed back to the hotel.
We were thankful to be safe after spending time downtown yesterday. That said, we are devastated for the victims, their families and this amazing community. We stand with all of Barcelona against violence! #totssombarcelona ❤️
Tune in tomorrow for Day 7 -- Futbol Sala clinic at La Masia Joan Camper and an outdoor friendly!
We headed to Milan from Alessandria to tour downtown before catching our flight to Barcelona. Milan was beautiful! We visited the Castello, a fort built in the 15th century, then headed into the main square where Duomo di Milano outshines everything else.
Alexandria players in front of the Duomo di Milano.
Duomo di Milano is the third largest church building in Italy, dedicated to St. Mary. Team ASA wandered the streets of Milan for a few hours and then it was time to hit the airport, Barcelona was next!
We arrived safe and sound in Barcelona and enjoyed dinner while watching the second game between Barcelona and Real Madrid at our hotel — then off to bed!
Stay tuned for Day 6-- Touring Barcelona and a clinic at Mini Estadi with FCB Escola!!
Lifting the Cup!
Our day started at the amazing indoor Futsal facility, home of Orange Futsal and the Italian National Futsal team. Orange Futsal hosted a clinic specifically for our players. The session was fast paced and full of learning opportunities. The facility was equally as impressive, a full size Futsal court, built in bleachers high above the court for prime viewing, locker rooms and office space. We're adding this type of facility to the ASA bucketlist!
We headed back to the Centogrigio Sport Village for lunch and our final matches of the Alessandria Cup! The girls were up first with the aggregate was 3-1 in our favor. After the walk out they were ready to go. The girls started slower than their first game and went down 2-0 in the first half. With the aggregate now 3-3, half time was an important 10 minutes.
ASA girls listen to a halftime speech from Coach Will and Coach Katie.
The coaches were able to light a fire under the girls and they came out roaring in the second half. We dominated play and were able to put a goal away on a free kick. Sophie Lambert put the ball right over the keeper's head and the crowd went wild! That goal put us ahead in the aggregate 4-3 and we were able to keep pressing for the final 15 minutes.
ASA picks it up in the secon half to secure the cup title!
The whistle blew and the girls cheered, they had won and were able to LIFT THE CUP!!!!!!!!
The boys were up next and they were buzzing. From the first whistle they pressured and possessed, the first goal came three minutes into the game when Dom Cianciolo was able to run through a cross, using his chest to put the ball over the line.
Pregame talk with Coach Chris.
The momentum continued and we put away three more goals before the half, Jeffery Aguilar (2), Matthew Martinez (1). The second half was more of the same, possessing and creating chances. They played as if the score was 0-0 and everyone could see how badly they wanted the win! Sergio Cruz netted the last goal to make the game 5-0 and a solid W to LIFT THE CUP!
We headed to the hotel for more celebration! Team ASA was riding the wave of excitement! Stay tuned for Day 5 --Exploring Milan and flying to Barcelona for the final leg of the trip!
Alexandria Meets Alessandria!
The day began with an early wake up call for a bus ride to the city of Asti! Team ASA had a chance to meet with city's newly elected Minister of Sport, Mario Bovino and local historian, Giuseppe to learn more about the city, which was founded in the 1st century as part of the Roman Empire. We were welcomed and honored in the Palazzo Civico or town hall. We received the "key" to the city, a banner that means we always have a friend in Asti!
Tommy with the "key" to the city!
After touring the town hall we walked through the city, hearing about the history of Asti. It was interesting to learn that the 15th century was really Asti's most thriving time. We saw Torre Rossa, one of the two towers that made up the western most gate to the Roman city in the first century AD. We also saw the Cattedrale, constructed in Piedmontese gothic style and built in 13th century, it was extremely impressive.
Following the tour of Asti, we headed to Alessandria to the Centrogrigio Sport Village. The sport village is an all encompassing sport complex, two restaurants, locker rooms, multiple soccer fields, indoor facility, paddle tennis and volleyball clubs.
The entrance to Centrogrigio Sport Village.
We had lunch in one of the restaurants, toured the facility and then it was time for warmups. Game one of the Alessandria Cup kicked off at 3:45PM and the boys were ready to go!
Seven minutes into the first half we were awarded a free kick 20 yards out, Matthew Martinez took the kick, lofting it right over the keeper! GOAAAAAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!!!
The first of four great goals, ASA rolled with the momentum and ended with a 4-1 win. Matthew Martinez had a hat trick, and Derrick Reyes-Cueva scored one.
The ASA boys gather for a photo with the other team after the game.
Next up, the girls took the field. After an international walk out and both anthems the game was underway.
The girls started strong, possessing the ball and creating chances. The first goal came 13 minutes into the first half, a breakaway from Sophia Southhall ending with a goal! The girls kept up the pressure and were rewarded with two more goals, by Emma Bates and Ana Fagen. The game finished 3-1 and we are looking forward to the second match tomorrow!
Alexandria girls pose for a photo with the other team after the victory.
Both teams left Centrogrigio Sport Village with a win! Team ASA is buzzing here in Italy.
Stay tuned for Day 4 - Futsal Orange Clinic and the championship games of Alessandria Cup!
C'era Una Volta (once upon a time)... a group of 60 ASA players, coaches and chaperones were able to tour the world renowned Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy.
But first, training!
We departed for BRS Grugliasco's training facility after a solid nights rest. The facility, a true "soccer school" (Scuola Calcio), was impressive. The players were able to use the locker rooms, mini fields and full size field on the grounds of the club.
We love the seeing our ASA gear in on of the Juventus locker rooms!
Beautiful mini fields on the training grounds!
The players were happy to get back into soccer after a long day of travel and site-seeing.
After training we were off to lunch at an Italian mall food court, where the players feasted on pasta and gelato!
Allianz Stadium, home of Juventus, was our next stop. Our visit started in the museum, full of history and interactive exhibits. The tour started at the top of the stadium, and then moved into the stadium, were we able to see the view from the premier club where the Chairman and his guests enjoy the game. Since the field is below ground, we descended the five floors to the Captains Hall where the captains meet before every game to remember where they came from and where they are going with Juventus.
After checking out the hall we were able to go in to the locker room. Juventus believes having a small locker room promotes unity. Also their stadium only holds 41,000 people which is very small for a successful professional club. Despite this, they pride themselves on the fact that every seat in the stadium has a prime view.
We think that the best view is the one from the field!
After seeing the field, the players were excited about the grass and the quality and the cut. As we have mostly turf at home, this detail was exciting to our group of soccer fanatics!
Our last stop inside the stadium was the Press room where we were allowed to sit in the huge luxurious chairs. We made it out of the stadium and headed straight to the team store. Players were able to purchase everything from custom jerseys to phone cases!
Last, but definitely not least, we headed to an authentic Italian pizza restaurant and had pizza pies galore!
After dinner the players, coaches and chaperones were exhausted and a fun filled day came to a close.
Stay tuned for Day 3 - Alexandria meets Alessandria and gets the key to Asti!
ASA has arrived! After a full day of travel, direct to Barcelona and connecting to Milan, we arrived in Turin, Italy around 4pm. Players, coaches and chaperones were reenergized as we hopped off the bus and checked into our hotel.
Group photo in the Palazzo San Carlo.
After a short rest, we were off on a walk around downtown Turin, passing through Palazzo San Carlo, Palazzo Madama, the gardens of Real Turino and Palazzo Della Regione before finally heading to dinner.
Touring the gardens at Real Turino.
Hanging out in the Palazzo Della Regione
Dinner at Old Wild West Ristorant
A surprise Italian third round Super Cup (the equivalent of the US Open Cup) match was being held at Stadio Grande Torino, where the opening ceremonies of the '06 Winter Olympics were held. The two teams, Palermo (second division) and Cagliari (first division) were both away teams who traveled over 1000 miles to reach Turin.
Palermo versus Cagliari, third round, Italian Super Cup
For some in our group, it was their first international match and it did not disappoint!
Palermo scored in the last minute of the first half to take the lead at 1-0. Cagliari was able to equalize half way into the second half, forcing overtime. Overtime proved exciting with chances from each side, but penalties were inevitable. Cagliari was able to put away their first shot, Palermo missed their first two and were unable to recover. Cagliari buried their 4th shot for the game winner and cheering ensued from the supporters!
After a full day of travel and an exciting night of activity, it was finally time to call it a night. Stay tuned for another update tomorrow, our first practice session and a tour of Juventus stadium! Ciao!
More to come....