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Liverpool and England Ladies’ Natasha Dowie (front row, centre) with the Spanish youngsters here from Guadalajara, near Madrid
Spanish youngsters have been exploring Merseyside, learning English and sharpening their sporting skills in a project led by University of Liverpool, in partnership with Liverpool FC Foundation and Madrid’s Academia de Futbolistas (ADF).
Throughout the final week of July, the 21 7-14 year-olds have been staying at the University’s Carnatic Halls of Residence and utilising the Wyncote Sports Grounds as their daytime base.
They have also paid visits to the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral, played golf at Formby Hall Golf Club, visited Albert Dock and Sefton Park, as well as playing basketball, badminton and using the University Sport and Fitness Centre’s climbing wall.
The youngsters even tried Aqua Running, a technique used by compatriots Real Madrid FC in the team’s regular training sessions.
The week is the fruit of efforts made by University Sports Operation Manager, Pete Sampara.
Pete said: “This partnership ticks a number of boxes for the University. We’ve now formed this partnership with the LFC Foundation and ADF, which we hope becomes a long-term arrangement.
Natasha Dowie (left) shoots, as her fellow players from Spain look on
“It allows us to engage with the local community, with local teams such as Woolton Tigers, coming to Wyncote to play our visitors. The LFC Foundation has even taken a team of English youngsters over to Madrid and they’ve played out there. They’ve really benefitted from that experience. Some of these kids have never been out of Liverpool before, never mind out of the country.”
Pete is now taking calls from organisations in other countries, such as Iceland, interested in coming to Liverpool to take part in the scheme.
Learn about different cultures
He said: “The ambition next year is not just to encourage other countries to be involved but also to really engage with the community and have other local teams here for the whole week, so they can learn about different cultures.
“It’s great to have ADF staying at Carnatic as well. They’ve been living the life of students and have got a sense of what it is like to go to University here, which could potentially happen for them in the future.”
The week culminated in a visit from Liverpool FC Ladies and England Ladies star, Natasha Dowie. Striker, Natasha took a training session with the youngsters and spoke about her experience as a footballer.
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