Academy set for trio of overseas trips

The domestic season may be coming to a close, but West Ham United’s Academy sides are set for an exciting summer of action overseas
The domestic season may be coming to a close, but West Ham United’s Academy sides are set for an exciting summer of action overseas.

The Hammers’ youth team will complete their Barclays U18 Premier League campaign at Everton on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Development Squad will hope to end on a high when they travel to Hull City for the U21 Premier League Cup final second leg on Wednesday 4 May holding a slender 1-0 advantage.

On the same day, the Academy will also send an 18-player squad to the prestigious FC Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup tournament in Zurich, Switzerland.

Then, between 20-22 May, a squad will take part in the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens 2016 tournament in Hong Kong, where the Hammers will look to go one better than last year, when they finished as runners-up.

In July, a West Ham United XI will travel to partner club VVV-Venlo for a special match honouring the Dutch club’s former player Herman Teeuwen, and a second game against PSV Eindhoven’s U21s.
Academy Director and Head of Coaching and Player Development Terry Westley said all three would be of huge benefit to the Club’s young players.

“As an Academy, we always look to give our young players the broadest possible footballing education, and these three events will certainly help us to do that,” said Westley.

“With regard to Venlo, we are coming to the end of the first year of our partnership and it has gone very well. They are doing very well and are just a handful of games away from gaining promotion, so we wish them all the best in their Play-Off matches.

“Sam has gone there and benefitted from training with the first team on a daily basis, has been involved on matchdays, and also developed his life skills away from the pitch.

“Manchester City have recently agreed a partnership with NAC Breda, so they too can clearly see the benefit of sending young players to a technical league in Holland.

“The ultimate aim is to have an arrangement similar to that which Chelsea have with Vitesse Arnhem, where their young players are playing against the likes of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord and top international players.

“We are looking forward to sending a squad to the Netherlands in the summer and spending a week training at Venlo, while also playing pre-season matches with PSV U21s and Venlo’s first team.”
With regard to Venlo, we are coming to the end of the first year of our partnership and it has gone very well
At the FC Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup, the Hammers have been placed in Group B and will face U21 squads from Chinese club Guangzhou, Belgian giants Anderlecht and Swiss sides FC Zürich and FC Luzern in matches of 20 minutes per half.

West Ham will play three matches on Wednesday, kicking-off against FC Luzern at 3pm before facing Anderlecht at 4.40pm and ending the day against FC Zürich at 7.10pm.

Thursday will see the Hammers tackle Guangzhou at 11.40am before taking part in a play-off match to determine their finishing position in the afternoon.

Group A contains host club FC Blue Stars, Dutch side Feyenoord, Portuguese club Benfica, Germans FC St. Pauli and Swiss outfit Grasshoppers.

West Ham will be competing in the FC Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup tournament for the first time since 1983, when Tony Carr took a squad containing Alan Dickens and George Parris to Switzerland.

Prior to that, the Hammers finished second to Manchester United in both 1966 and 1968 and third behind the same winners and Italian club Verona in 1959.

Looking further into the future, the Academy will send a West Ham United XI to the Netherlands for two pre-season matches against PSV U21s and partner club Venlo.

The PSV fixture will be played on Wednesday 27 July, while the Herman Teeuwen Memorial match will be played at Venlo’s Seacon Stadion on Saturday 30 July 2016 at 3pm local time.

The game will be the centrepiece of a week-long training camp – reciprocating an arrangement which saw the Dutch squad train at Rush Green for a week during their January mid-season break and play out a goalless draw with the Development Squad.

Venlo have benefitted from the arrangement this season, with young defender Sam Westley playing his part in the club’s challenge for promotion from the Dutch second tier.

With one league match remaining, Venlo sit second in the table and will face fifth-place Go Ahead Eagles in a two-legged Nacompetitie promotion play-off in mid-May. Should they win that tie, Venlo will go through to semi-finals and potentially a final round in the hope of being promoted back to the top flight after a three-year absence.

*The Academy will complete their Barclays U18 Premier League Group Two Play-Off campaign with a visit to Everton on Saturday 30 April at 11am. The Hammers have drawn five of their six Group Two fixtures but can end on a high by defeating the Toffees at their Finch Farm Training Ground.