3 Jamaican players, namely Jamaica College attacker Shadane Lopez (who went to Portugal with HVFC in November), HVFC and Reggae Boyz U17 invitee goalkeeper Denzel Smith, and left-sided midfielder/defender Trevaune McKain from MRC Academy owned by Onaje Bell.

L-R: Shadane, Denzel and Trevaune

Traveling across the island, the young men boarded the 11am Knutsford Express with our General Manager Clyde Jureidini, heading to Montego Bay airport for a 4:55pm Condor Airlines flight to Frankfurt, Germany and then onto Barcelona, Spain.

Upon landing at about 1:30pm, they met some of the other 32 persons participating while waiting on the 6pm pick up of the Luxury liner. More than a hour later, they arrived at the Cambril’s Sports Park in Salou area to register, find rooms, eat dinner and go to bed.

Training Day 1 in Barcelona

Breakfast at 7:30am, followed by 10am training at the 8-Field Complex with 16 new players joining the 20 existing Lank FC players who have been in development since January 2019.

New uniforms and coaches, including HVFC legend Hubert “Junior” Groves from his Masters Academy in Toronto, Canada. Parents are present with the cohort in full support, swelling reservations to about 76 in total. The first session was a warm up, getting to know styles of the players , stretching and coordinating with ease.

GK Denzel Smith with Junior Groves

Lunch at 12:30pm is a blessing to rest as the second training session began at 4:30 – 6pm. The second session was much more tactically executed in high gear to be ready for the top class opening game against Espanyol FC, who leads the Under 19 ahead of FC Barcelona. Dinner, meetings and players resting early closed off the night, tomorrow is the big day for the boys at Lank FC.

Training photos by Jamaican-Canadian photographer, Karl Reid, whose son Ethan is in Barcelona to play in 2 trial games. Karl also represents Junior Groves’ Master’s Academy in Toronto.

Match Day 1: Espanyol FC vs Lank FC

A moment of silence was observed for the passing of the father of our player Casseam Priestley ahead of the game. This was the biggest of the 4 games scheduled against Espanyol FC U19 Spanish club. Lank FC arrived at their stadium for the game starting at 3:30pm local time.

An excellent display from a newly-formed squad brought smiles to the faces of the Coaches, Managers, Players, Parents and the Lank FC officials as they left the Spanish establishment at RCB Espanyol.

Defensively sound in the first half, good discipline in team formation and skills in counter-attacking worked, as few chances were created by both teams. Coach David and his Technical Team made 2 attacking substitutions at halftime with the skillful pair of Tyreek Magee and Che-Bennie, began to hold the ball and take control of the midfield area to open up their defense. 2 goalscoring opportunities were missed, the Espanyol struck right after down the left side to squeeze past Tafari Chambers in goal, 1-0 at 53 minutes.

Another chance was missed by Lank FC as Espanyol found a right-sided weakness again to go 2-0 in the 67th minute. The game was still open as both clubs traded attacks, with Magee, Alex, Jabari with Che-Bennie now swinging it towards Lank FC’s favour. The goal comes as Magee waltz by two more midfielders to hold up play, as Alex overlapped give Isiah and he played a diagonal to tee up the substitute Romario to tap in 1-2 at 78 minutes. Substitutions a plenty on both teams see out the game at the same score.

We drove back to camp a proud bunch, as all 97 persons get ready to head to the UEFA Champions League game as Barcelona hosts Lyon the next day. 2 more games scheduled for the next Lank squad here on trials on Thursday morning and evening. Last game for this squad on Friday.