By Tara Murray
A group of western suburbs teenagers are about to embark on the trip of a lifetime as they head to Spain to play in the Elite Football Tours’ International Players Cup.
The African Australian Elite Team will travel to Madrid in early January to compete against teams from across the world.
The team, which is based in Caroline Springs, is playing in the inaugural tournament.
Players spent three months trying out for the team, with six players from South Australia joining the 12 Melbourne western suburbs players.
The Charan Foundation, which provides financial assistance for youth in sport, is helping the boys make the trip.
Team manager and The Charan Foundation community engagement officer Oscar Ncube said it was exciting for the group, who train at Caroline Springs
George Cross’ facility. “The team is highly talented and competitive,” he said.
“We have been drawn against the powerhouse Athletico Madrid in the tournament and Rayo Vallecano is in our group.
“Keilor Downs College, who are also one of the Australian teams, is also in our group.” A-League club Brisbane Roar is among the Australian clubs sending a team.
The African Australian Elite Team includes players from Werribee City, Green Gully, Caroline Springs George Cross, Moreland City, Pascoe Vale and Preston Lions.
Some teenagers are already playing at under-20 level, while one of the goalkeepers is part of Caroline Springs George Cross’ senior National Premier League squad.
Ncube said while there was prize money on the line at the tournament, the trip was about much more for the group.
“For us, it’s all about showcasing African Australian migrants talent on an international stage,” he said.
“We hope some of our boys will use this trip as a learning experience to enrich themselves and maybe one day play in the A-League.”