Young Lions have a ball at Oakham
A mixed group of Millwall players from the U10s and U11s enjoyed three days of football at the Oakham Festival in Rutland.
This annual festival gave the club's youngsters an opportunity to play the likes of Bradford, Leicester, Peterborough, Aberdeen, Watford and Sheffield United – all teams they wouldn't normally face.
The Millwall contingent were accommodated at the Oakham School and had exclusive use of a house which had a pool table, TV, table tennis, its own small kitchen and also a swimming pool on site.
The 18 boys were accompanied by Paul Palmer (Lead Foundation Phase Coach), Mick McDuff (Academy Physio), Mel Jeffries (Head of Academy Coaching) and FA Youth Coach Educator Ben Bartlett.
"It was a fun and relaxed atmosphere, and a great experience for the boys," said Millwall's Head of Academy Coaching.
"It was great to see the boys enjoying themselves, both on the football pitch and off it.
"The coaching staff took the opportunity to take a back seat and give ownership to the boys in terms of picking the teams/formations for each fixture, managing the substitutions and delivering the team talks pre-match, at half time and post-match.
"The level of knowledge the boys displayed and the commitment they dedicated to the task wasn't a surprise to the staff."
The youngsters clearly had a great time too, with Henry Swann from the U11s saying: "I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of playing at Oakham and playing against teams I wouldn't have even have thought of playing against.
"My team scored lots of goals, won most of our games and played some very good football. We had great fun at night as well and it was good to meet the other teams."
Those sentiments were shared by Miller Hales from the U10s, who added: "I really enjoyed playing my first Football Festival with Millwall Academy. I played against teams across the UK from Sheffield United to Aberdeen Football Club.
"All the games were competitive and most of all, really enjoyable. My favourite game was against Peterborough United. We were three goals down at half-time but got back into the game and it finished 3-3 at full-time. That is the great spirit and belief we have at the Millwall Academy.
"In the evening we did everything from swimming to table tennis. I really enjoyed hanging around with my team-mates. The food was great too!
"I liked travelling with my team-mates on the minibus and the Festival set-up was fantastic. The whole experience has made me want to be a goalkeeper at Millwall Football Club for as long I possibly can."
The travelling party in full was as follows:
U11s - Archie Taylor, Dillon McGrath-Luker, Charlie Nicholas, Kyle Smith, Jack Gray, Deniz Yildez, Yusof Hoque, Darko Gyabi, Henry Swann, Harry Brooke, George Belsham, Harrison McBreaty and Chin Oroli.
U10s - Joe Elliott, Ben Ley, Miller Hales, Cemal Osman and Joshua Mason.