Tony Carr and a selection of the club's up and coming talent are heading to Asia this week to take part in the Hong Kong Sevens.
The prestigious 16-team tournament takes place between Friday 23 May and Sunday 25 May and features a host of top clubs including defending champions Aston Villa, Celtic, Rangers and PSV Eindhoven. Tony Carr's side have been drawn in Group A against two local sides as well as Japanese outfit Urawa Red Diamonds. Each group game is played over seven minutes each way with a one-minute half-time, with all matches played at the main Hong Kong FC ground.
Carr is looking forward to the challenge, having seen his Under-18s enjoy a successful domestic season that saw them challenging for their league title throughout the campaign. "It is a tournament we went to about six years ago in its infancy," he said. "It mirrors the rugby sevens. It is seven a side on a full pitch and it is a real spectacle. It is all-action stuff. The first goal is vital and you certainly have got to have people that can run."
The academy director expects his young charges to take plenty from the trip, and not just in terms of footballing development. "I think it is great for them to go to somewhere like Hong Kong in the first place," he said. "A great lesson for life and the football experience will be something else as well with the heat and humidity. It is a great experience for the lads. I don't normally like to take end of season tournaments but this one was a little bit too special to turn down."
Some high-profile academy graduates played in the previous West Ham United trip to Hong Kong and Carr said the benefits were there for all to see. "I learn a little bit more about the players and their characters from trips like this. The last time we went we took Glen Johnson, Anton Ferdinand and Elliott Ward. They all looked back on it fondly. Hopefully we all have the same experience we had last time. We are all looking forward to it."