The country's under-19 team heads off for the GCC Games
Time Out Bahrain staff
As you’re reading this a group of determined young Bahrainis will be in Qatar giving their all in a bid to bring footballing glory to the kingdom.
The national under 19 squad, led by coach Anthony Hudson, are taking part in the Under 19 GCC Games, which run from September 1 to 11, hoping to emulate the success of the senior team which took gold at the first GCC Games last October.
Fresh from a far eastern tour with the under 22 team for the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup qualifiers, where the Bahrain team took a respectable but not quite good enough, third place, Hudson was handed the task of training the GCC Games squad with around eight weeks to prepare.
Calls to the country’s foremost teams asking that they put forward their best players resulted in Hudson and his assistant seeing around 100 hopefuls in a series of matches over four days.
Of these 30 were picked, a 23-man squad plus seven players who are constantly ready to step up, then began a round of fitness training and practices to get ready for the games.
And since much of the build-up came during Ramadan, the teen players were fasting during the day and then playing and training late into the evening.
The result is a team Hudson feels confident will be able to hold its own.
He said: “Of course we want to win and we’re going there to win but what I really want is to see that we are disciplined and competitive.”
Coming back to the game after a break since the end of last season, the players started out with a light conditioning programme moving on to a series of more gruelling sessions as the games approached.
And Hudson said: “I’ve been impressed at the increase in discipline and the improvement of the work ethic and I’m pleased with the talent we have here and with the position we’re in right now.”
The Bahrain lads will initially play the other members of their three-team group, Saudia Arabia and Oman, with the teams in first and second place going on to play their opposite numbers from the second group, of Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, in the semi-final and ultimately the final.
But the story doesn’t end there for the under 19s, Hudson’s alternative hat is that of Olympic coach tasked with developing a squad to vie for a place in the next Olympics in 2016.
That team will be under 23s – the current under 19s – and he will spend the next few years working with them to get them up to Olympic standard.
The selection process is also ongoing with at least another 100 top-team hopefuls for the coach and his assistant to see on their return from Qatar before they start scouting the island’s lower leagues in their search for the very best of the island’s footballing talent.
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