Norfolk football team set their sights on the Youth World Cup
PUBLISHED: 11:38 23 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:54 23 May 2018
While the world's best football players are taking to the main stage at the World Cup, Norwich's finest youngsters will be playing for their own trophy against youth teams from across the world.
Costessey Jets Under 14s have qualified for the world’s largest youth tournament the Gothia Cup - nicknamed the Youth World Cup. The squad made the cut after they won the nine-a-side SKF Cooper Cup in Kings Lynn.
Manager Richard Graveling, 44, praised the boys’ performance and is looking forward to the tournament which is held in Gothenburg, Sweden, every year.
The father of three said: “It was a really good performance and to be fair they have had a wonderful season, so it’s a great reward for them all.
“I think the boys are more excited that they are missing school but it will be an experience for them.”
The Jets have a large squad that this season has split for matches between two teams, Costessey Sports in the Norfolk Combined Youth League Premiership and Dereham Town in the Eastern Junior Alliance - the only Norfolk side in that competition.
Between them, this year the Jets have won the NCYFL Kappa Cup, the Stuart Dracup Norfolk County Cup and come second in the EJA, as well as having several players who are part of the Norfolk Schoolboys and Norwich City shadow squads.
Mr Graveling added: “This will be different from league football of course, and the ages are also different as in Europe they count from January to January, which means that some of will be up against players nearly a year older.
“But I’m sure they’ll enjoy the challenge as with tournaments it’s different football and different tactically. The hard job for me now is getting the squad down from 28 to 16 for the trip, but it’s going to be huge, it’s going to be fantastic.”
The team join 1,700 other teams on July 15 from across the world to prove that they are the best in youth football.
The trip will be all expenses paid by SKF Cooper Bearing in Kings Lynn who also sponsored the tournament.