As we launch our new brochure, Mike looks back on the reasons behind the locations and what the new season has in store.
“People like expertise; I think that’s a given. What I set out to do with our football product was to focus on specific locations, based on our contacts and strengths in those areas, to deliver itineraries that went beyond the usual.
Outside of MSG I work alongside a lot of excellent coaches, both within academies and school-based agencies and all our product is designed with them in mind.
One thing we felt immediately is that simply associating your tour with a big club such as Barcelona or Inter Milan, is no guarantee of a good trip. Often what this serves to do is increase the cost whilst feeling more like a commodity than a valued guest. It’s my belief, backed up by experienced colleagues in the game, that touring groups are seeking that personal touch and enthusiasm from the clubs they train with and play against.
So when Joseph and I started mapping out the where, why and how of our football tours, we had this sentiment at the front of our minds. The first thing was to strip back our offerings to show the quality of our destinations as opposed to focusing on the quantity.
The Basque was a no-brainer. We operate extensively in the area and it’s the base for our European office. The footballing history and the incredible achievements of the academy systems of Bilbao and Sociedad in particular, meant that it was the perfect start point. We affectionately dubbed it the ‘Tiki-taka Tour’ as a homage to the passing style developed by the Spanish. It also reflects the feel of this area, with everything in short reach, meaning your tour builds and builds into something more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps I’m overreaching my metaphors here!
I spent a lot of time in Italy across the year, particularly at Chievo where I was blown away by the family feel of the club and its acceptance that, in an era of multi-million pound transfers, they must operate within their limits and focus on youth. The coaches here have incredible tactical knowledge and it’s a side of the game I found fascinating to learn about as it’s very different to the current aims of our own FA. Given our goals of partnering with clubs that mutually benefit from hosting our groups, Chievo and Brescia alike were the perfect fit. Verona, where we’ve chosen as our main base, is quite literally football mad and the surrounding scenery, particularly Lake Garda, is stunning.
Greece was a location that wasn’t immediately on our radar. We had looked around for a location that would offer sun, great training and value for money but that’s a tough combination to come by. Enter Sportcamp. The training base and accommodation in Loutraki is made for touring groups. With all your facility needs met on-site, along with great value, full-board options, it means you can take advantage of the Mediterranean sun without breaking the bank. We were also aware of the passion for football in the city and the opportunities this presented for pro-training and live sport.
Further afield we developed great links in New York and feel that the itinerary here is of the highest quality. It’s such an exciting time in the MLS but we opted for New York given the great air fares from the UK and the sheer variety of excursions. A favourite of mine was Socceroof and the chance to train at the top of a skyscraper.
Argentina was the ultimate on our bucket list. One of the most iconic footballing countries in the world and a chance to train alongside the nations two biggest rivals in Boca Juniors and River Plate. We’re confident that, as the costliest of our football offerings, it represents the wow factor that we set out for.
With such a streamlined set of destinations, we’re confident that booking a football tour with us means booking a tour that will deliver the unexpected. We’re here to offer you the expertise and guidance to go beyond the standard football tour and deliver a truly unique and tailored experience. You’ll benefit from the hard work and research that shines through in our brochure, which is downloadable here. You’re only a phone call away from your next tour, so get in touch!”