Sport is about much more than the physical challenge, it offers a unique learning experience. Sport helps to break down human barriers when dealing with others, and it naturally challenges the individual in a multiplicity of ways. The benefits that sport offers and the skill challenges that the participant faces, from team building to communication, from leadership to personal self-improvement should never be underestimated. It was with these benefits in mind and with those arising from international encounters that the ISA decided to organize this sporting event.
The unique experience offered to the ISA was not just that of a “Tournament” that would be a focal point for ISA Schools around the world. The unique experience was to live for a week and in an international environment, the life of a professional sportsperson. Participating students were given the opportunity to experience and understand the aims and activities of a European Champions League football team.
Valencia CF, the third largest club in the Spanish La Liga had offered to open its doors through the help of Saffron Sport and to host the ISA event. It was the first time in the club´s history that such a request had been considered and approved.
Valencia CF not only opened its doors to the ISA, it allowed the Association to become part of the Club for 7 days. The club supplied the ISA with its top youth coaches, who willingly offered advice normally reserved for its youth academy. Each ISA team participated in 6 training sessions concentrating on all aspects of the game.
The Club´s training facilities were made fully available and the Director of the Academy, Carlos de Lera, personally greeted ISA students and arranged for many of the first team players to come to meet and talk with them. A private shirt signing and photography session was arranged followed by a talk on the history of the Club and a private tour of the stadium and stadium facilities. Tickets were also arranged for the group to watch the Liga match between Villarreal and Levante in order to complete this unique soccer experience.
But the tournament offered much more. It allowed the travelling groups to play Spanish teams and enjoy all that you would expect from a foreign experience and more. Each member of the travelling sporting group from the coaches down to every last player was challenged with a new set of sporting ideas. Advice on training methods, diet, discipline, teamwork, leadership, pressure, disappointment with defeat, desire for improvement. All were experienced, discussed, and assimilated.
The Argentinean representatives proved to be the strongest ISA squad winning the Tournament Trophy. They also scored the most goals and received the Golden Boot Award. The Malaysian representative team proved themselves worthy winners of the Fair Play Trophy.
It is also important to emphasise that there was also a significant international focus beyond the sport during these 7 days. The four-star hotel which was home for this memorable week was situated at the training facility and was witness to groups from the ISA, who had never met before, bonding together despite at times a language barrier. It was equally impressive to note that young people coming from various parts of the world, were easily able to form a common ethos and understanding. The ISA group ate together at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The groups travelled together for their evening activities, including a memorable guided cultural tour of the historic city of Valencia.
We are sure that new friendships have been forged and that the event has led to a greater understanding and appreciation of what internationally-minded schools and the ISA together can achieve.
We look forward to greater support for future international sporting activities of a similar standard and would like to thank Saffron Sport and also to all those who participated this year.
Until next year.
Education is the best instrument to build a better world. Living in peace is achieved by working together and celebrating our cultural diversity and similarity.