Eclipse Soccer Club U16 Boys Tour Europe

The Eclipse 96 Premier U16 boys soccer team, traveled 5000 miles from their Sugar Land area training fields to tour cities in Spain and France, and to play in the prestigious Donosti Cup in San Sebastian, Spain.

The team took their game to Madrid, Spain first. They spent their first three days in Madrid at the invitation of one of the world’s finest professional soccer clubs, the Real Madrid Club de Fútbol. Their first full day in Madrid was “Real Madrid Day” where they toured and trained at the Real Madrid Training Facility with one of the club’s coaches. They toured the locker rooms, media room, club café, and toured the professional team’s training facilities. They also spent the afternoon touring the Real Madrid’s famous Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

They spent two more days touring Madrid, including a view of the world’s second largest bull fighting ring and the historical city of Toledo, a former capital of the Spanish Empire and place of remarkable coexistence of Christian, Jewish and Muslim cultures.

After three days in central Spain, they traveled north to the Basque Country, to the beautiful city of San Sebastián, also known as Donostia (Basque). It is a city located in the north of Spain, on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and 13 miles away from the French border. Most importantly, it is the site of the annual Donosti Cup, one of the most prestigious international youth soccer cups in world. The Eclipse boys were undefeated in three games as they competed against opponents from Spain, the Basque country, and Brazil to earn a spot in the winners bracket of the single elimination playoffs where they won their first game and then lost their second game to a strong Spanish club team.

Along with all of their own soccer cup action, the team managed to work in a lot of other activities and wonderful memories. Their first night in town, they watched Spain defeat Italy in the Euro Copa 2012 final with a huge crowd on a big screen in downtown Donostia, toured the city by bus and on foot, and explored the beautiful beaches of San Sebastián.  Later in the week, the team traveled the short distance to France and explored the beautiful city of Biarritz, France, a city which lies on the Bay of Biscay, on the Atlantic coast, in south-western France. It is a luxurious seaside town and is popular with tourists and surfers.

The boys experienced much of the European soccer (or “futbol”) culture, a way of life and a touchpoint for European cultures.  They played on some of the finest soccer pitches they’d ever seen, explored cities where time is measured in centuries rather than decades, and experienced first hand the Spanish, Basque, and French cultures.  The weather was fabulous, the scenery inspiring and the local girls attentive.

After twelve days, the boys arrived back in Houston exhausted, with new European friends, drawn closer together in relationship with one another, and content that they had measured themselves against some of the finest youth clubs in Europe and the South America.  Each one had stories to tell, and memories to keep with them, on what was surely a trip of a lifetime for them.

Eclipse 96 Premier, one of 40 select soccer teams in Eclipse Soccer Club, trains at Lost Creek Park in Sugar Land, TX, and was the runner up in the National Cup State Championship this past spring. In the fall they will be competing in US Youth Soccer’s Region 3 Premier League, reserved for the top teams in South Texas, North Texas and Oklahoma. The team will be attending college showcases in Houston, Dallas, North Carolina, and Las Vegas, as well as playing their regular season games across Texas and Oklahoma.