Hong Kong boys' dream trip to Spain

Rebecca Tsui

Fourteen boys from FCBEscola Hong Kong, a local soccer training school, left for Spain on Saturday on a trip they will remember for the rest of their lives.

During the 10-day visit, they will hone their skills at Spanish soccer giants FC Barcelona and then take part in the Terres de l'Ebre International Youth Tournament in Spain.

FCBEscola Hong Kong was jointly established by Barcelona and local soccer club Kitchee last year.

It teaches soccer skills to more than 220 children three times a week for free, using Barcelona's training methods. The top 14 boys from this group were selected for the trip.

The players - aged between eight and nine - will attend a three-day soccer camp at Barcelona's home ground, the Nou Camp.

This will be followed by the youth tournament in Tortosa, where they will pit their skills against 15 other teams, including those from Barcelona, Spain's Villarreal CF and Italy's AS Roma.

All the boys were excited about the trip. Captain Dai Wai-tsun said they were confident about beating the top international youth teams.

'We're ready to take up the challenge. I think it would be great fun,' said nine-year-old Wai-tsun.

Besides the exciting matches, the boys may even meet some famous players. 'All I hope for is to meet Lionel Messi [who plays for Barcelona] in person!' Wai-tsun said.

Vice-captain Samuel Down said he was a little nervous about the trip.

'It's the first time I'm travelling to Spain. Everything is new to me but I'm really looking forward to it,' he said.

The 'dream tour' will also be recorded on film.

Renowned local filmmaker Alfred Cheung Kin-ting has offered to write the script and direct the documentary for free.

His son, Jonathan Linux, is in Spain with the squad.

'In a society like Hong Kong, it is amazing to find a soccer school that teaches children for free. Moreover, it is teaching them not only soccer skills, but also promoting the importance of a positive attitude towards life,' Cheung said.