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Camden Elite set to face Premier League clubs’ youngsters

Footballers to represent the borough against Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Southampton and newly-promoted Brighton

20 April, 2017 — By Steve Barnett

Camden Elite Under-13s

A YOUNG squad of wannabe footballers will be looking to make the most of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when they go head-to-head against top academy teams from a host of professional clubs on Saturday.

Camden Elite won the right to represent the borough at the Pro Touch Soccer Academy Pro International Invitational Festival which will be held at Market Road in Islington.

The Under-13s side will be lining up alongside a number of Premier League clubs, including Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Southampton and newly-promoted Brighton.

The Championship will also be well represented with youth teams from Reading, Fulham, Norwich, Nottingham Forest and Queens Park Rangers also all taking part.

“The players are being handed the chance to show what they can do in front of coaches from some of the biggest clubs in the country,” said Elite coach Sebastian Eurico, a former academy player at Nottingham Forest.

“It doesn’t get much bigger than this. If the players believe in themselves, and perform to the levels that they are capable of, I have no doubt that they can compete alongside the academy boys.

“But they have to stay focused, they can’t freeze. It’s a big occasion and they have to prove that they can handle it by performing on the day.” Camden Elite are no strangers to upsetting the odds – they beat Liverpool 2-1 in the final last season to win the cup.

Among the scorers was Caleb Mensah, now creating a name for himself as a leading striker at Norwich.

Elite’s current crop of stars already have the same winning mentality, having won the London Cup and the title in the Camden and Islington Youth League.

“I expect my boys to handle the pressure,” added Sebastian.

“The team we had in the competition last year were physically stronger, but these boys are no push-overs. They work well as a team, have a tremendous battling spirit, and the squad is full of intelligent players.

“I can’t see any reason why we can’t retain our crown – providing the players don’t let the occasion get to them.”

The “battling spirit” that Sebastian highlighted was there for all to see in the qualifying tournament as Elite won on penalties in the quarter-finals, the semi-finals and the final, where they overcame Crown Pro Elite from Hackney.

Among the stars of the show who the pro clubs might just want to keep an eye on come Saturday was Ryan Hammond, who was voted best goalkeeper of the tournament, and midfielder Luc Achermann-Stanfield, who was voted the best player of the tournament.

“I can’t even remember how many penalties Ryan saved. Without him we probably wouldn’t have made the finals,” said Sebastian.

“Luc was also brilliant, he was our driving force from midfield. He’s our David Beckham and can ping passes all over the pitch with either his right or left foot. He’s an incredible player.”

As part of their prize for winning the qualifying event, Elite were presented with £500 worth of kit by sponsors Kitlocker.

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