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On Monday 31st July, 8 English U18 team headed out to the Netherlands for a 2 week pre-season trip. Players from Barnsley FC, Burton Albion, Coventry City, Exeter City, Fleetwood Town, Hartlepool United, Wigan Athletic and Scunthorpe United are participating. They further their preparations for the new season by testing their skills against their peers from top Dutch clubs.

Gregor Rioch (academy manager Wigan Athletic): "We are looking forward to how our players cope with the differing styles of play as we play against quite a generic style of football when playing domestically. It will be interesting for us to see how our players make 'in-game' decisions when playing against different formations and against individuals who can influence a game. In addition, it provides an opportunity for the coaching staff to implement the 'Wigan Way' over a two week period that will continue when we return home".

Each English club is partnered with a top Dutch club, to promote development and the exchange of ideas between coaches and players in both countries. Barnsley FC and Scunthorpe United will receive guest coaching sessions from NAC Breda, while Coventry City and Exeter City will be hosted by Sparta Rotterdam. Burton Albion and Hartlepool will receive training sessions and a presentation from FC Volendam, while Wigan Athletic and Fleetwood Town will learn more about FC Twente.

The teams will play friendly matches against Eredivisie clubs like Feyenoord (the Dutch champion), FC Twente, Excelsior Rotterdam, Sparta Rotterdam and ADO Den Haag. They will also experience a range of cultural activities, including a visit to the Johan Cruyff Shield (which will be played between Feyenoord Rotterdam and Vitesse), sightseeing in Amsterdam and a typically Dutch bike tour.

Rioch: "we will be in a football environment for 2 weeks, living and breathing football with very few external distractions, which will enable us to implement standards and values within the group and build team spirit for players and staff. The trip offers us the chance to understand the good and bad habits of the players, how they prepare for training, their recovery strategies, behaviour, food habits and so on. It will benefit us greatly off the pitch as players and staff will gain so many life experiences of the two weeks that will broaden minds and inspire them in the future. It will take us out of our comfort zone and provide us with life long memories. It will be fantastic to learn about day-to-day life in Holland, as well as meeting new people and learning how to communicate in a foreign country."

To help players and staff to adjust to life in Holland, each team will receive several lessons about the Dutch language and (football) culture. Each team will travel with an tour manager, who will make sure the trip runs smoothly. organizes these pre-season trips in cooperation with our English partner League Football Education. Over the years, we've hosted clubs like Wolverhampton Wanderers, Accrington Stanley, Blackpool FC, Shrewsbury Town, Blackburn Rovers, Ipswich Town, Millwall, Derby, Middlesbrough, Carlisle, Bury, Crewe Alexandra and Rochdale.

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