Charlton’s academy recently headed overseas to compete in a four-team competition and came within a whisker of taking the top prize.
Funded by Valley Gold, a squad that consisted of U14s and U15s began their trip by beating Dutch club VVV Venlo 4-1 in a friendly at their main stadium.
The day before the main competition, the young squad visited the Three Country Border – where Belgium, Holland and Germany meet – and they were then given a tour of Genk’s stadium and training ground.
Genk were the tournament’s organisers and hosts. Competing alongside them and the Addicks were Sparta Rotterdam and Polish club Zagłębie Lubin.
Charlton beat Sparta 3-1 and Genk 1-0 to put themselves in command, only to suffer a 6-5 defeat to Zagłębie in their final game, which allowed Genk to pip them to the title.
Youth Development Lead Coach (U12-U16) Rhys Williams oversaw the trip and he was proud of the young Addicks.
“We all set out with an ambition to go and win the tournament and had a clear structure as to how we intended to do it,” he said.
“We wanted to win it, we wanted to do it in style and if we couldn’t then we just needed to try and find a way to win.
“Sadly, we just couldn’t find a way to win that last game but overall the boys did really well.
“The trip was great for players and coaches, team spirit and camaraderie. The boys behaved impeccably well and that gave them space to enjoy themselves.
“They very much set the code of conduct for the tour and had to show maturity and responsibility, which they did.”
The whole trip was funded for by Valley Gold – the organisation that enables supporters to provide financial support to the academy and other areas of the cub – and Williams says everyone within the youth set-up continues to be extremely grateful to its members.
He said: “We can’t do these things without their support. When we were in the Premier League, we received a lot of funded invitations for trips abroad but that does not happen anymore.
“The opportunity to go away and play against international clubs and be tested in all sorts of different ways is fantastic for our young players.
“As coaches, it enables you to get to know your players in different contexts; you see them go in and out of training at home but to be around them in social situations was great.”