AMAZING: The fledgling Nerang U8 HPM squad showed they can match it with some of the state’s best U8s last week when they took on a bevy of NPL and elite academy teams at the Gold Coast Youth Champions Cup tournament held at Mudgeeraba.
A crushing first day saw the young Eagles take a well-earned lead over visiting Brisbane City FC side only to fall in the last few minutes, and again go toe to toe with the Southside Dragons to fight back from 4-1 down to agonisingly run short on time and finish just shy at 4 goals to 3.
By tournament’s end the HPMs would learn that they were placed into the strongest pool of teams in Pool A and were up against the tournament’s best players from the start, with not one single team from Pool B even making the semi finals.
Despite the early narrow losses the team showed brilliant character and effort to never let up against a range of opponents, including the formidable Brisbane Olympic FC outfit who our boys, despite losing by 6 goals, managed to hold scoreless for much of the first half and put the first goal away against – much to the visible dislike of the Olympic coach and team.
A tough battle with Magic United’s best on the second day showed promise but fell short again with our boys looking a little worse for wear, leaving the final day of playoffs for the Eagles to get their chance.
On the last day, the relentless push from Nerang finally paid dividends as they flew out of the gates strong and dominated a visibly tired Brisbane City FC team for an early win. This match was followed immediately by a back-to-back final game against NPL powerhouse club Peninsula Power who sent their best U8s to tackle the tournament.
The boys opened early with a first-minute goal, showing total attacking dominance over the Power defence, however the two teams would go at it for the full match, trading goals and chances in this do-or-die finish – a few missed chances by both sides. A shot at half way from Kyal found the back of the net, which lifted the entire Nerang team (and sideline cheer squad!) who then rallied to work together and push forward, allowing Joshua to score the winning goal from an excellent team move up the right flank.
Great defence from Jackson, Jaxon and Ethan and some powerful midfield plays from Roman, Damon and Max ensured our attackers were well supported throughout the tournament. A fantastic left foot individual goal from Ty on the last day set the tone for the Eagles strong finish. Goalkeepers Jaxon, Brock and Kyal all pulled off some classic high-quality saves each day.
The Eagles conquered and came away victors in the last game with a 3-2 win to lift to 7th place overall in the tournament, an amazing achievement as the first ever HPM team coming out from Nerang and the Academy of Football Australia. The results follow on from their Runners Up finish earlier in the month at the Ormeau U8/U9 Carnival where the U8 HPMs bested a series of teams including three U9 teams.
The HPM (High Performance Minis) program is a new expanded program seeing veteran Nerang and Academy of Football Australia coaches shaping some of the club’s brightest young stars with additional academy training, advanced football tutoring and rapid skills sessions whilst placing teams into the development and Kangaroo divisions of the Miniroos competition on the Gold Coast.
The new program, entering its second season in 2020, hopes to expand and this year attract more talent to the club, and offer even more for young players chasing extra success or even potential professional pathways through football.
Topping off an amazing Champions Cup tournament effort for the U8 HPMs, tournament selectors – who had been watching all of the games intently – selected Nerang’s own Kyal Sorensen in the Allstar Team of The Tournament, awarding him the position of centre midfield. An incredible honour which places Kyal – who netted 8 goals at the Champions Cup this year – alongside some of the top U8 players in the state.
Congrats to the coaches, parents and the boys on an exceptional performance filled with courage, tenacity, character and sportsmanship!
This week our U13JPL team is challenging the region’s best in their run at the Champions Cup, you can find the draw HERE – Good luck Jono and team!