European football is the business, but not everyone gets the chance to put their skills to the test against the continent’s elite – but that’s exactly what AC Hoylake U15s will be doing this weekend as they head off to the Netherlands to take part in the Easter Open International Youth Tournament.
What is the Easter Open?
The Easter Open is a junior football tournament that’s played in the Netherlands over the Easter weekend. It’s split into three sections, each of which is played in a different part of the country.
Easter Open South is played in North-East Brabant, Easter Open East takes part in Overijssel at Gramsbergen, while Easter Open West is played at Sassenheim, which is, oddly, in South Holland (and it’s anyone’s guess what’s happened to Easter Open North).
The official opening will take place on the evening of Friday, April 19, at one of the Easter Open South sports parks, followed by the group matches on Saturday, April 20. The final matches will be played on Sunday, April 21.
2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the tournament, and a total of 609 teams will be taking part, 173 of which are from the UK.
But there’s only one team we’re interested in – AC Hoylake U15s, who will be playing in the Easter Open South section of the tournament.
What will the competition be like?
The Easter Open South U15 age group has a total of 28 teams taking part, including Wirral schools F.A and Luton Town – so the competition is sure to be tough.
AC Hoylake will be placed in a group of four, along with another English team, a Dutch team and a Danish team, and possible opponents include the following:
- Chesworth Rovers (ENG)
- FC Engelen (NED)
- Luton Town FC 1 (ENG)
- Luton Town FC 2 (ENG)
- Sc’t Zand (NED)
- Deysbrook Juniors (ENG)
- Stiphout Vooruit (NED)
- FC Silkeborg 1 (DEN)
- FC Silkeborg 2 (DEN)
A 30-strong party, including 15 players, will be leaving Manchester on Friday morning for their base in Sittard, leaving plenty of time to prepare for the matches on Saturday and Sunday.
The area the team are staying in really is a hotbed of Dutch football. North Brabant is home to eight professional football clubs, more than any other province in the Netherlands, three of which - PSV Eindhoven, Willem II and NAC Breda, play in the Eredivisie, the highest professional football league in the Netherlands.
Everyone at AC Hoylake would like to wish everyone the best of luck at the tournament, and we hope they all have the most amazing time – it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience for all involved.
Updated 16:28 - 18 Apr 2019 by Les Roberts