Coaches from two-time European champions Benfica received a warm welcome to Thurso in the rainy north of Scotland as they delivered football sessions to kids aged from four to 15.
The event at the Naver pitches to celebrate Thurso Football Academy’s 10th year went down a treat with all involved.
Former Benfica and Ukraine international Serguei Kandaurov and highly-respected coach Joao Rosmaninho visited Caithness to pass on top-level skills to around 100 youngsters.
The visitors also delighted the hosts by bringing a replica of the European Cup – which the Portuguese giants won in 1961 and 1962 by beating Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively.
The coup came about due to the Thurso academy’s close relationship to world-renowned soccer training course providers Coerver Coaching, who also provided support coaches to help throughout the event.
A practical coach education course was also laid on for local coaches, who went through various drills and techniques used by Benfica in their set-up.
Ex-Benfica star hails far north hosts
Kandaurov was delighted to have made Thurso one of their coaching destinations during their visit to Scotland, having also visited Elgin.
He said: “It was a great pleasure for us to travel around Scotland with Coerver and visit the likes of the Thurso Academy in the north of Scotland.
“We had a fantastic time with the academy’s head of coaching Alyn Gunn, his partner Leanne, and Richie Campbell, its club development officer, as well as all the other coaches in Thurso.
“The hospitality from our host was very much appreciated and we hope that, as SL Benfica, we passed on some of our beliefs and methodology to everyone in what was a great experience.”
A fantastic weekend in Thurso with @slbenfica_en @scotlandcoerver with 100 youngsters attending despite poor weather conditions a great way to mark year 10 of the academy ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/6XOLqIil99
— Thurso Football Academy (@AcademyThurso) October 23, 2023
Top training drills and techniques
Gunn was grateful to have Benfica and Coerver’s coaches put on such great sessions for the youngsters.
He said: “It was a fantastic experience to have coaches from the two-time European champions in Thurso for the weekend.
“In true Caithness style, it lashed rain for us, so it was good for them to experience what we have to put up with on a weekly basis”
“Football-wise, it was great seeing the kids adapt to new training drills and techniques.
“The coaches were of a really high standard and quite clearly believe in their methods.
“As this our 10th year, it was important for me to have a high-profile club here – and I’m delighted it went well.”
Coerver director Gordon Craig added: “It was great to have our guys and Benfica up with Thurso Football Academy.
“Despite the weather, the feedback has been fantastic.”