ALBION Under-15s were crowned Premier League National Futsal champions at St George’s Park on Sunday.
The Baggies overcame futsal-specialists Inter Movistar 3-1, Norwich 5-1, drew 1-1 with Fulham and brushed aside Blackburn 7-2 to win the tournament.
Futsal is a variation of 5-a-side football played with a smaller, less bouncy ball, on a pitch delimited by lines rather than boards or walls.
The Albion youngsters qualified for the national competition after beating Stoke, Reading and Villa in a regional tournament earlier this year.
Lead Youth development phase coach Aaron Danks was proud of his players following their second cup final appearance of the season.
“It was a fantastic achievement for all the players and staff involved at St Georges Park," said Danks.
“For the players this comes after they were beaten finalists earlier in the season in the 11-a-side Premier League international tournament.
“To reach two finals in both the 11-a-side game and now the futsal competition shows the great work the staff are doing and also the effort, hard work and commitment these players are putting in to continue to develop and progress.
“Again the players demonstrated great discipline on and off the field as well as a competitive desire which it requires to win a prestigious international tournament of this kind.”
And head of education Mike Scott praised the Barclays Premier League’s efforts to raise the profile of futsal in England.
“Neil Saunders from the Premier League has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of the game with various Futsal tournaments at all age groups,” said Scott.
“Our under-12s have qualified for another Premier League national finals tournament taking place this week in Leeds.
“The event was another excellent opportunity to develop our culture at the younger age groups along with giving the players an opportunity to play and compete in a competitive tournament at St George's Park.
“Finally, I’d like to send our best wishes to a Fulham player who unfortunately suffered a suspected broken leg in the elite group match against us.
“We wish him a speedy recovery.”
PICS: CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE (Top): Baggies skipper Brad Sweeney during clash with Blackburn (Middle): Sweeney lifts the cup (Bottom): Players celebrate in style (From left to right): Mike Scott (head of education), Tom Brady (coach), Brendan Pooni, James Smith, Callum Pritchatt, Max Melbourne, Brad Sweeney, John Leko, Kyle Edwards, Sam Field, Raekwon Smith, Dan Jezeph, Chay Scrivens, Nathan Wharton (physio), Aaron Danks (lead youth development coach).
Photos courtesy of Steve Hawkins