Footballing students get to play sport in Spain


FIVE lucky Haslingden High School students got the chance play football in Madrid.

They are all members of Lancashire County Player Development Programme. This year both the county’s U14s team and U16s team won the national titles.

Ocean Flanagan, Darcie Dixon, Dixie Thirde, Holly Thomas and Miriam Aliouane were in the squad that flew from Gatwick to Spain for the five-day visit.

Goalkeeper Holly, 15, said: “There were a few pupils from Years 5 and 6 but most were secondary school students. We had three training sessions at Real Madrid and we played friendly matches.

“It was a really good experience and hopefully we will also get to go again next year and we hope it will be to Barcelona.”

As well as playing football, they got to tour the Real Madrid Stadium and that of Atlético Madrid.

Centre Midfielder and Defender Ocean Flanagan, 14, said: “The first day it was raining, but it was still warm. We trained for 90 minutes during the day and then played our matches in the evening.”

They played teams of a similar age and Ocean also played against an U18 side.

When the U15s match ended 1:1 at full time it went to penalties and Holly saved one and then scored her own goal sealing the win.

Holly and Ocean said they were all impressed with the amount of English the Spanish players knew and some were attending English boarding schools.

When Ocean joined an U16s side of people she was not used to playing football with, they found themselves facing tough opposition.

She said: “The opposition was very cohesive as a team and they worked very well together and were used to playing together. They had also recently beaten Barcelona.

“It was really good to play abroad and I now know how it feels. I am hoping to get a scholarship to continue football in America.”

Ocean was selected for the England U15 team this year and she currently plays for Accrington Stanley where she hopes next season to be playing with the U18s team.

Holly has been playing for Blackburn Rovers.

They will both be trialing for places in the Lancashire teams and, because of being in the squad this year, they automatically get a place in the second of three trials which lead to the squad being selected.