Final Round up from Malta 2013-04-08 22:34:00

DAY 9 - THURSDAY 4TH APRIL 2013

Is that it?
Hard to believe that this is our last day! The nine days have simply flown. It has been great fun and an unbelievable and unforgettable wonderful experience for everybody.
We were down for breakfast for after nine with the plan to finish the packing and then hit the pools for one last time. It was all going well until shortly after ten when hotel staff started putting pressure on everyone to start checking out. Our itinerary had given us a 12 noon check-out time but housekeeping and reception on the phone were harassing fellas to clear the rooms and check-out. Not a great way for the hotel to conclude what was otherwise and generally an enjoyable stay in the hotel.
Daniel's last efforts at working on his tan were thus thwarted! Soon lads were packed up and checked out and starting to gather in the lobby. Happily we were soon on our way and after a Group photo outside the hotel we were packed up and on our way.
We had lunch in a spectacular hillside restaurant. The food was fantastic and the panoramic views were amazing even if it was very windy.
After lunch we headed for a Tour of the Maltese National Stadium, the Ta'Qali Stadium. This was very good. We had access to the VIP sections, the Boardroom with Jordan taking the Chair, then visited the dressing rooms and were out on the pitch. It was all very impressive. We had a short talk from the Maltese FA about how they prepare their national sides and the work they do on a daily basis with players our age and older bringing them in after school and giving them specialised training. We also saw their plans for a Sports Science Centre.
It was also interesting to learn that one of the few occasions in which the Stadium was packed were for the Papal visit in 1990 and for games against Italy and Germany and for the game against Ireland in 1989 when two John Aldridge goals saw Ireland qualify for a World Cup Finals for the very first time. Aldo and the Pope!
After that it was into Valetta to do some shopping for a few hours before heading out for the airport at just after 6.00pm. Our flight is at 8.50pm local time.
We were soon checked-in and managed to get everybody through the security checks. There was good fun and good craic as we waited to board. Soon we were up and away and on our way home.
We landed in Dublin just before midnight. "It is very cold here in your country!" One blast of the cold air and most wanted to go back up the steps to the plane!
Our bus was waiting for us and after a welcome shop stop on the way we were back in Athlone for just five minutes after 2.00am taking a fantastic trip into a 10th day, albeit briefly.
We were met by a huge crowd. Lads soon went their separate ways each with their own special memories and stories of a fantastic trip to Malta. Brilliant!

OVERVIEW

By any standards the ADSL Tour to Malta was an outstanding success.
True, we did not win the Tournament but that was never the sole objective. It was always going to be hard to defend the title won in such fine style by the lads last year once the decision was made to enter two evenly matched teams and not to select "A" and "B" Teams. That decision was vindicated as thirty players got plenty of very competitive game time in meaningful matches. The general consensus was that the standard this year was better. It also must be said that the Scholars did give it a real go and were unbeaten all week with four wins and a draw from five games only to eventually go out in a penalty shoot-out. That was some effort.
The Saints also did well and showed great character to keep playing and doing the right things even when things were going against them.
There was also a number of outstanding individual performances and on both sides. The overall standard was very good and it should also be noted that the Scholars won the Fair Play Award as voted by the Tournament referees. That says a lot.
The thirty players had a great football experience and education. Their collective and individual development has been enhanced by this exposure and experience. On a football level then this Tour was an outstanding and unqualified success.
But this trip was about more than just football. Thirty lads had the opportunity to travel and to experience something different and see a different country and culture. They also hugely enjoyed each other's company. It was very pleasing to see how such a large group successfully integrated. You never saw the same few together whether at the dining table, on the bus, at the matches or out and about. They got on famously together and it is not often you could say that about thirty young lads under-14 years away for nine days.
They were also a credit. One lost count of the number of times they were complimented by others in the hotel or when out and about as to their behaviour and impeccable manners and conduct. They each and all did their families, their Clubs, their League and their Country proud.
The trip was also a great experience for the families who travelled with the boys. Their presence and their help in so many ways considerably enhanced the enjoyment of the trip for all the boys. We hope the parents and families enjoyed this trip as much as the boys themselves.
So, on so many levels this was a hugely enjoyable and successful trip. It will have to go down as probably one of the best ADSL Tours.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The ADSL would like to sincerely thank all those who made Malta '13 the outstanding success that it was. We want to sincerely thank the following:
• Tommy, Sher, Gudgie and Paul for all that you have done and are doing for these young players;
• Seamus McWalter for all that only he can do and in such a dedicated and generous way. The man is a legend!
• To all the parents out in Malta for all your help. Special thanks to the "Challenge Annika Crew" on their relentless search for a laundry and all their good work in washing and drying the lads playing gear. We must also acknowledge the Dads for their splendid advices and sound suggestions in these ventures!
• Thanks to Bernie for organising the Karaoke and the Birthday cakes;
• Thanks to Fiona for all the photographs;
• Thanks to all the little (and sometimes not so little) brothers and sisters for your contribution to a great trip;
• Thanks to Alex for all his good work in Malta and to Hamrun Spartans for hosting and organising a magnificent Tournament;
• Finally, the biggest thank you to the most important people of all - the thirty young players on the trip. You are magnificent young people and a great credit to your parents and families. You did your League proud and it was a pleasure and a privilege to be associated with you. Thank you very much.

Now, what time are we down for breakfast in the morning?





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