Tony Glavin U15/16 Boys in Glasgow, Scotland
Will Faherty and Trey Haman have been invited to the Super Y League National ODP Camp to be held in Bradenton, FL
Pair of TG U-15's cross the pond to train with Celtic Youth Academy
The thought of eating it turned their stomachs.
Will Faherty and Trey Haman couldn’t believe it when they heard what it was.
The two locals -- Faherty is a sophomore at St. Dominic, while Haman is a sophomore at St. Louis University High -- were in Scotland training with the Celtic Football Club. Through an affiliation with the Tony Glavin Soccer Club, the duo had been invited to a week-long training session with Celtic's Youth Academy. They flew over for a week from the end of May until the beginning of June. The hope was to get a better understanding of how the players in Europe, and at Celtic, train on the path to becoming professional soccer players. They learned how the game was played, how the players worked and, as they sat there at dinner, what the players ate.
On the menu that night was haggis, and Faherty and Haman, both 15, weren’t exactly thrilled. “Haggis, it’s kind of gross. I think of calamari. If you don’t know what it is, it’s OK. Then I learned what it was and I can’t eat that,” Haman said. Haggis is Scotland’s most traditional dish. It’s a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs stuffed inside a sheep stomach.
Sounds tasty, no?
“I didn’t think it looked that good,” Haman said. “But then they brought it out fried; it looked like a hamburger. I ate it and it was pretty good. I need to eat that more often when I’m here.”
If the Celtic players are eating it, then both Haman and Faherty would eat it again. Both locals said the players, in their own age group, were bigger, stronger and faster than players of the same age here. They were struck by how physically imposing their Scottish counterparts were.
“They’re all big and muscular. The midfielders and defenders are really big,” the 5-foot-10, 155-pound Faherty said. “They were definitely bigger, stronger, faster,” said Haman who is 5-9 and 134 pounds. “I’ve been a short guy my entire life. Generally, everyone is a big person.”
Once they got over the size difference, it was the speed of the game that really caught their attention. The Celtic players move the ball with a faster pace than either had seen here. Haman was impressed by how comfortable the players appeared on the ball even in the face of intense defensive pressure.
“When they were under pressure, they would look up and play the ball. You wouldn’t see that here,” Haman said. “When you’re under pressure, everything needs to be sped up in your mind and you can make a mistake. It almost seemed like they never made mistakes.”
It took some time but, eventually, both players picked up the speed and grew more comfortable in the training sessions and scrimmages. Their nerves disappeared and it just became soccer training, albeit at an awfully high level.
“After the first day, I was used to what they were doing,” Faherty said. “I got used to their style of play quickly. I really liked it.”
The structure of the academy was a new experience, too. The players rise early in the morning for a training session, clean up and then head to school. After school, they take a bus to the main club team’s training facility, where they do homework, eat and then have a second training session. The two-a-days were a tough adjustment for Haman and Faherty.
“They do two training sessions a day, five or six times a week,” Faherty said. “It kept me in shape. I didn’t have to worry about doing exercises on my own. They have one day a week they do lifting and cardio.”
Both players said they took some lifelong impressions from the week in Scotland. Faherty saw the importance of giving everything you’ve got, no matter the situation —whether in training, scrimmages or a match.
“It kind of showed me and taught me to try your best even if it’s just a training session,” he said. “Always try your best so you can impress whoever is watching you.”
Haman felt the pace of play was an important lesson. The speed at which decisions are made and the ball is moved stuck with him.
“It seemed to improve them a lot,” he said.
That -- and maybe the haggis.