When FC Connecticut co-founder Jonathan Bradley travels with his teams over to Sweden this July for the annual Gothia Cup, it will be his organization’s 19th straight year going to the world’s largest youth soccer tournament. FC Connecticut usually travels with 150 people or more over to Sweden, and this year they have five teams making the trip.
Global Team Events, the official tour provider for FC Connecticut, has helped take the group’s experience to the next level with detailed planning off the pitch to make the trip smooth and enjoyable for the players, coaches and parents. Jonathan believes every youth soccer player should experience an international soccer tournament like the Gothia Cup, and Global Team Events is available to make that happen.
Q: How did your idea first evolve in getting your FC Connecticut team all the way over to Sweden for the Gothia Cup?
Jonathan Bradley: Scott McBride, who runs the tour with me, he did his first one in 2000. It’s obviously the biggest youth tournament in the world, and there was a lot of demand locally. So, they started out with one team going in 2000, and it’s grown since then.
Q: What is it about the Gothia Cup that makes you want to attend year after year with your teams?
JB: It’s the biggest tournament in the world. Last year there were 78 countries. There’s always around 80 countries. There’s lots of great and different competition, the facilities are excellent, and the tournament is excellent. Scandinavia, that time of year, is just beautiful.
Q: How has Global Team Events enhanced your travel experience for your teams?
JB: They have taken care of the off the field stuff that has made our trip really smooth, with the hotels, the ground transportation, the chaperones. They’ve really allowed us to grow and feel comfortable from A to Z so parents don’t have to worry about anything. We have a unique situation where we have a local chaperone per team which no other team from the U.S. offers. We have two adults looking after the teams, a coach and a local guide, so we don’t have to rely on the parents to worry about the kids. We believe the parents can have just as good of an experience as the kids.
Q: How would you describe the experience for your teams both on the pitch and off it?
JB: I think the international experience is invaluable, with kids being able to travel overseas at such a young age, not just to experience soccer but to experience different cultures. We have a trip to a castle, we do a couple canal cruises, we do a lot to allow the kids to take in the different cultures, which I think is really important.
Q: Do the players get the chance to interact with players from other teams?
JB: This year we’re going to Stockholm and Copenhagen, so the kids get to experience two different countries. Last year, the kids played a team from South Africa. We try to get them to mix and mingle with as many nationalities while we’re over there.
Q: What are some of the things your players and/or parents have said about the trip when you’ve returned home?
JB: It’s unbelievable the amount of positive responses we get. They love the soccer, they love the interaction with people from other countries, they love the educational component of the tour. If you asked 100 people, 100 of them would come back and said they had a positive experience traveling with FC Connecticut.
Q: What would you say to a team considering taking an international trip to play in the Gothia Cup or any other international tournament?
JB: Every kid who plays soccer should experience an international tour at least once. Just that international component of traveling overseas, the educational side and experiencing something different, with the added bonus of unbelievable competition from teams all over the world, I’m a big advocate of international travel for kids. It gives kids an added responsibility, which they don’t sometimes have here. I think it helps them mature a lot quicker. We’ve had kids come back and win school projects on the trip. Every kid should travel at least once to an international soccer tournament.
For more information on how Global Team Events can help your team experience an international tour, e-mail [email protected] or call 844-893-1199.