by Jeff King
Thanks to a generous grant from The Turing Scheme, Park View Academy has been able to set-up and deliver trips abroad for their U-17/U-18 Football Academy, their Rugby Academy, Girls Football Academy, Cricket Academy and Athletics Academy.
The Turing Scheme is the UK government’s programme to provide funding for international opportunities in education and training across the world.
It supports Global Britain by providing an opportunity for UK organisations from the higher education, further education, vocational education and training and schools sectors to offer their students, learners and pupils life-changing experiences to study or work abroad.
Also as part of the scheme, the U-18/U-19 Football Academy which also forms Chester-le-Street United's first team have just have just returned from an 11-day trip to Milan.
They played three fixtures against Serie C side Pro Vercelli FC's Under-19 side, then FC Lugano of Switzerland in Switzerland finishing on the last day with a huge fixture which will be featured on local TV news in the coming days.
Utilising their squad that travelled in games played in heat they would not normally encounter the youngsters of Park View/Chester-le-Street United acquited themselves superbly doing their school and the area proud.
They lost narrowly to Pro Vercelli 3 - 2 where United regulars Jay Gibson and Ryan Muldoon both scored and the Italian winner came in the last minute. This was a game that the travelling squad was utilised to the full as they youngsters acclimatised.
The second game saw a little jaunt to Switzerland where Park View/CLS United beat the Youth side of FC Lugano 2 - 0 with goals from Joe Malone and Ben Milburn.
Both goal scorers were regulars in the United side in their inaugural year of senior football in the Wearside League in 2020/21 and have since moved to higher step of the FA structure. Part of the philosophy of Park View/CLS United to give players an opportunity to play at a higher level.
On returning to base camp in Novarello, the travelling party were advised that they had been offered an unbelievable opportunity to play a friendly game against the Italian Under-19 National Side.
The Italians were also training and preparing at the same facility as their English counterparts finalising their squad for the forthcoming Under-19 European Championships which start this weekend.
The Italian coaching staff and officials had been watching Park View/United go through their training and been impressed by what they saw. So much so they made the offer of the friendly fixture. The Park View officials had no difficulty in accepting.
So, on Wednesday morning before the squad flew home later in the day they trotted out to take on a side that included several players attached to such Serie A giants as Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan and other Serie A sides also.
Indeed United were informed that some of the opposition had in fact played in Serie A. The Academy lads had also during their stay had the chance to watch the Italians in action and had been mightily impressed and expected a tough encounter.
So it proved but The Academy/Chester lads put in a superb effort and tremendous performance that saw them earn a 1 - 1 draw against a team full of players who have already started their professional journey.
The United/Park View starting XI showcased ten players that are still at The Academy and one who only left the Academy in March to move to Cheshunt United of the Isthmian League Premier a Step 4 Club that won promotion to Step 3, The Vanarama National League South.
That player was Ebenezer Addo who actually scored the United/Park View goal with a tremendous 25-yard drive that flew into the top corner of the Italian net. The side that started a game that was without doubt the biggest and most prestigious in both The Academy and Club's short history so far was.
Mauro Asikaogu - Jaden Timmis - Josh Crews (c) - Alex Fil - Ebenezer Addo - Josh Ward - Taylor Robinson - Ryan O'Connor - Ryan Muldoon - Elliott Day - Jay Gibson.
Names that will go down in the history of the Academy and Club and players/youngsters that will never ever forgot the experience and day they played against future Serie A stars.