I had the privilege to play for the Northern Ireland County Down Select Football squad in the Tournoi International de Dirinon, an Under 13s football tournament in France with teams competing from 15 countries around the world.
As the centre-back, I make sure the back line is secure and working together to stop any of the opposition’s attacks. We kept a clean sheet in our first match, winning the tight and exciting game 1-0.
Sadly, we were controversially beaten 1-0 in the second match. Our keeper didn’t realise it was a pass back from our defender and kicked the ball out of her hands. This resulted in a penalty. It was a really cruel way to lose the game.
Our spirits picked up a great deal because we played Cranou in the third game and won 4-0. Another clean sheet!
With the sun beating down on us, we drew 0-0 against Nantes, who were one of the best teams in the tournament. Our coach was very pleased and said it was the best match we played. We lost our penultimate game and then drew 0-0 in the final match against another hard team. They were very rough, elbowing us and kicking, but we did it just as hard back to them.
The 0-0 draw was not enough to put us through to the finals. We tried our best and were happy with how far we had come in the tournament. We were then called up onto the podium where we were given medals and nominated for the “Fair Play” award. Our organiser, Dawn, suggested I could lift the trophy on behalf of the team and we were each given a pendant with our names printed on them.
I was very happy because I also won the trophy for Parents Player of the Tournament!
It was also great to stay with a French family. My home had hens and sheep so it was a different experience for me.
Our final flight from London to Belfast was delayed for about one hour so I had some time to reflect on my experience. It was amazing to play football in France with such wonderful local support. It was also great to experience French life with my French family!
Olivia L (Y9)