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2014-02-25T15:27:00 Updated 2015-02-18T22:34:49

Eastbury get set for Sardinia!

For 12 of Eastbury Comprehensive's year ten pupils, all roads lead to Sardinia this summer.

National futsal champions last year, partner school Eastbury are set to take on the world this time around, as they prepare to represent England at the ISF Futsal 2014 World Schools Championships.

With the big kick-off in Italy set for 28 April, the countdown is well underway at the Barking-based school, with whom West Ham United have forged a strong relationship in recent years.

The travelling futsal party are currently coached by the Hammers' Community Sports Trust and have been for several months. It is an arrangement that is already proving its worth, as the talented footballers gear up for April's tilt at an international title.

Eastbury Comprehensive
Eastbury will be hoping to collect yet more silverware this summer

Senior deputy head teacher Keith Coffey led the tributes to his dedicated staff and pupils, both shocked and delighted that Eastbury will be flying the flag on the continent.

"Whatever happens next is a complete bonus," Mr Coffey confirmed. "It came as a complete shock and a surprise, a wonderful surprise to us, but the fact that they're out there competing is a wonderful thing.

"The boys come in at seven in the morning three days a week, which is credit to the staff as well. We've got them coming in during holidays, weekends, they've put in a huge amount of time.

"West Ham's coaches have played a massive part. We've got really good links with West Ham and it's great from my point of view as a West Ham supporter! But just seeing what they're helping our boys to achieve has been wonderful for us."

The feeling is mutual, so says futsal sessional coach Ross Williams, who is revelling in the chance to work with the talent on show. If the boys are excited, so is Williams, who is doing all that he can to ensure that they do themselves justice in Sardinia.

"It's a great achievement, not only for the boys, but for us as well," Williams reflected. "As coaches, we don't get the opportunity to work with this standard of players every day. So it's testament to what the Club and the Trust are doing together, to actually put young people like myself in this situation.

"As I said, it's not often that you get to work on a project like this, so we're buzzing as much as the kids are. We can't wait to get them out there and get going."

When Eastbury's futsal delegation flies off in April, they will do so with plenty of local backing. Higgins Group PLC, the official sponsor of the Hammers' Trust, is on board, as is Club partner Lycamobile. Their support is such that the school's success is imbued with a strong sense of community, to the delight of the two businesses involved.

As for the futsal itself, team manager Lloyd Wood is only too happy to wear the underdogs tag ahead of the tournament. As recently as three years ago, futsal was neither played nor on the curriculum at Eastbury, making their ascent all the more admirable.

"What this particular group of very talented footballers has achieved in such a short space of time, through their hard work, effort, dedication is something to be proud of and the whole school are behind them," insists Mr Wood.

"The big thing for us is that we're really looking to develop our players by testing them on the world stage against some of the best futsal players. There are a lot of countries who are better known for their futsal, so for us as the underdogs, we're going there with nothing to lose and everything to gain. We're really excited to see what we can do out there."

The magnitude of the occasion is certainly not lost on captain Bradley Sach, who admits the trip to Sardinia is likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He too offered a vote of thanks to the Trust's coaches, who he reckons bring the best out of the boys.

"It's a dream come true, everyone dreams about playing for England," said Sach. "The boys have been working so hard!

"The West Ham coaches are brilliant when they come in. It improves you as a footballer, it makes you more focused, when it's West Ham, you work harder.

"We now hope to bring back the trophy from Italy. It may not happen again so we've got to make the best of it."

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