Mariners Academy tour to China Daily Blogs

Click Here to read the latest from the Mariners' Under 12's, Under 14's and Under 16's Junior and Youth Academy tour to China

Blog 1, Day 1 by Harry Brown (16years Youth Academy)

"Big first day. Travelled from 6pm to 7am and the boys were pretty excited to finally be in Beijing. We jumped onto our bus and met our tour guide John who is very funny and gives us a history lesson every bus trip. After a 40 minute bus trip we made it to our Hotel called the Royal King Residency Hotel. We all unpacked our bags, got settled in, went for a walk and just looked around the hotel. After this we went to the Birds Nest to have our first chinese meal, oh yeah and a tour. We did not eat too much as it did not look like chinese food back home. The coaches have nicknamed one dish the 'chuck' dish as we are all not sure if it is chicken or duck. The head was served on the plate and it looks like a chicken but it tastes like duck. After this we had our first training session and it was just a light session on astroturf. There are astroturf pitches everywhere and they all have normal goals and goals you can put wherever you want. Then we had another chinese meal which was a bit better as we tried more things. Got back to the hotel and still feel hungry. We want to go to Maccas. It is about a 10 minute walk and is very tempting."

Blog 2, Day 2 (Friday) by Tom Law (16years Youth Academy)

"Wake up call was at 730am. We went down to breakfast which did not look like anything I had seen before. Not many players went near the buffet as there were things like black eggs on it. A chef up the back of the room then cooked us normal eggs which was great. We all then went to the supermarket which had everything and was the biggest I had ever seen. We stocked up on drinks and snacks. We walked back to our hotel, went for lunch and then got ready for our first game against Beijing Team Olympic. We watched some local guys have a game on another field before our game and the keeper went down with cramps. They had no physio so the other players were just kicking his legs and his feet to get rid of the cramps. We had not seen this before and all the boys laughed. There were plenty of photos and official stuff before all the games. The 12's had a 2-2 draw and the goal scorer was Darian Fanayan (2). The 14s lost 7-1 and the goal scorer was Nicholas Ballard. We won 4-0 and the goal scorers were Duane Tennant, Harry Brown (2) and Marcus Zarantonello. We then came back to the hotel for our showers and headed out to our next Chinese meal. Many of the boys did not eat much tonight so all the squads headed to our first Maccas meal. It was great."

Blog 3, Day 3 (Saturday) by Nicholas Dimitriadis (14years Youth Academy)

"The day started off with a relaxing walk and stretch, led by our physio James Pearce. We then met up with the parents at the Jade Factory, which looked more like a museum. We were taught that the best type of Jade is cool to touch and when put up to a light it is cloudy not clear. Our biggest challenge came next, the Great Wall of China. The views were sensational and it was an experience that I will never forget. The stairs were extremely steep. We walked for about 25 minutes on a 75 degree angle and did not get near the top. The way down was much quicker but tough on our legs. I think we will all be sore tomorrow. We then went to lunch and then the markets. The markets were fun as we would try to get different things for as low as possible. We had to stick together though as the sellers can bug you a lot and don't let you leave until you buy something. At 630pm we arrived at the Workers Stadium to watch the underdogs Beijing take on 2nd place Shanghai. It was a big culture shock to see the atmosphere of this game compared to our Aussie football games. They go crazy the whole match but there is plenty of security to make sure that nothing gets out of hand. The Australian player, Joel Griffiths scored the first goal for Beijing and the crowd went crazy. The score was 1-1 at half time and then Beijing got a player sent off. Because there was 50,000 people at the match, we left 10 minutes early and the score was 2-1 to Beijing. On the way back to the bus, we heard the crowd roar twice and Beijing had scored 2 late goals to win 4-1. We went back to the hotel and had dinner. It was a very long, but great day."

Blog 4, Day 4 (Sunday) by David Sarac (14years Youth Academy)

"Today started off with the usual breakfast at the hotel until the first activity of the day which was to visit the Summer Palace. During the trip there, Johnny, our tour guide, explained that the Summer Palace was a really massive beautiful garden for the Emperor. However, it also accommodated a mini parliament, religious buildings and statues. There were many statues of large rocks which all had a different meaning, including the bankruptcy rock which Johnny did not let us take a picture of as it could come true. After visiting the Summer Palace we headed off to lunch in one of the top floors of a Beijing Skyscraper. The view looked down on other gardens and modern chinese buildings.

We were served an assortment of Chinese cuisines that the group had been accustomed too over the tour. We were always served straight away and we knew when the meals stopped coming out as a platter of watermelon was always the last dish served. After lunch we set off to our next lot of games to play against the Beijing Muslim Squads at a very large school. The school's stadium that we played at was great as the games were very tight and very tough. The 12's lost 5-3, while the 14's went down 3-2 and the 16's won 2-1. We then headed to dinner at our hotel and went to bed. It was an enjoyable and fun day."

Blog 5, Day 5 (Monday) by Fergus Worrall (12years Junior Academy)

"On the 27th of September, 2010, the Central Coast Mariners Squad woke up to eat breakfast. We had to eat before 9am as we were meeting in the Lobby of the hotel for a 9am for a refreshing walk and stretch.

When we got back we had 2 hours of free time so we could choose to go to the sports market or the supermarket or stay in the hotel.

I went to the sports market. The 14s coach, Peter, told us that these brands were real and not like the markets we had been to before. He also told us that these prices were about half of the price back home and you also got a receipt if you bought something. We never got receipts at the other markets.

Next we went to a delicious lunch and most people thoroughly enjoyed the honey soy chicken.

Johnny does not eat with us much as he says it is too westernised. This means they make the food a bit like at home for us. After lunch we went to the markets and had a very fun time bargaining.

We then went from the markets to the acrobatics show. I personally think the acrobatics was awesome because of all the flips and cartwheels. There was also bike riding, juggling and a man balancing on chairs near the roof. No one was allowed to take photos in the building but I think some people tried.

For dinner we had macca's and I ordered a double cheese burger with large chips and a chocolate sundae. Finally we all got to the hotel.

The coaching staff told us to clean the soccer balls so we did that for a while and then went to bed, some stayed up and some went to sleep."

Blog 6, Day 6 (Tuesday) by Adam Buchmasser (12years Junior Academy)

On the 28th of September, 2010, the CCM squads had 630am - 9am to wake up and have breakfast. Breakfast looked the same as lunch and dinner. You could always choose what you wanted to eat.

Most players got eggs made for them and then just added toast for breakfast. When the boys had finished getting ready for training we walked to the fields behind the hotel.

They were not real grass fields. My under 12s team had to bring all the balls as we were asked by the coaching staff to clean them last night. Our coach Alex was telling us about our game that we were going to play later that day.

We then trained for 1 hour. The balls were starting to get dirty again from the rubber on the field.

After training we went to lunch and it was nice this time. After lunch we hopped on the bus to go to our games. Whenever we asked our tour guide Johnny how long till we get there, he would always say 30 minutes depending on traffic. There is a lot of traffic and bikes are everywhere on the road too. There are no road rules in China.

When we got to the field we played the first game. We lost 2-1 but the player who scored the winning goal was offside and Jacob scored a cracker. All our under 12 team were on the bench for the under 14 game.

Fergus Worral, Jacob Robertson, Nathan Lozado and Darian Fanayan played a lot in this game. We lost 1-0 in this game but it was still fun to be part of it.

The under 16 team won 1-0 thanks to Duane. They have not lost a game yet. After the games we came back to the hotel for dinner which was nice. After dinner we went to bed."

Blog 7, Day 7 (Wednesday) by Nick Marr (15years Youth Academy)

"On the 7th day in China we had a very busy day. We visited the Forbidden City, Tianamen Square and in the evening we watched a live Kung Fu Show.

In the morning we did our usual stretching session with our physio James. We then went back to the hotel and embarked on our journey to the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was very interesting and greatly designed. The city was the emperor's home and was so big that we only saw half of it after walking around for over an hour.

After we visited the Forbidden City, we walked to Tianamen Square about 5 minutes away. It is the biggest square in the world. We were told that there will be nearly a million people in Tianamen Square on Friday as it is a National Holiday. We were allowed 20 minutes of free time to walk around the square which allowed us to see the well crafted gardens and monuments.

Our last trip of the day was to the live Kung Fu show, Chun Xi: Legend of Kung Fu. The show was about a chinese boy on his journey to becoming a monk. It showed the different stages and challenges he had to go through to become a monk. The show had a lot of culture and meaning behind it and was very vivid and interesting.

After the show we got the bus to dinner at one of the many restaurants we have visited since being in China. After dinner we headed back to the hotel to rest up before tomorrow's last game."

Blog 8, Day 8 (Thursday) by Nicholas Ballard (14years Youth Academy)

"We started the day with a breakfast at the buffet. Then at 9am we all went to the park next door for a stretch but too our surprise we did core strength exercises which killed. We then got the option to go to the shops or stay at the hotel. After we had relaxed for an hour we departed for lunch.

After lunch we went to the ground for our last game. The 12s & 14s both played 8 v 8 on half a field. Unfortunately the 12s lost 3-2 after taking a 2 nil lead early and we lost 2-0 to a very strong side. The 16s was a very exciting match as they had not been beaten yet and took a 2 nil lead early. At half time the score was 2-1 and then the Chinese Western District side scored 2 early goals in the second half to take the lead. But in injury time, Harry was fouled inside the penalty box and the referee awared the penalty. Harry stepped up and put the ball in the top right hand corner to make the score 3-3. Beijing Western District kicked off and the referee blew full time. The 16s remained undefeated and earnt themselves a tour winners trophy organised by the Chinese organisers. It was a great way to finish the tour.

Blog 9, Day 9 (Friday) by Wade Giovenalli (16years Youth Academy)

Today was the last full day of the tour. We started the day as usual with a Chinese breakfast. We then had an hour and half fun training session to finish off the tour. After a warm up from James, we each did one 20m sprint and had a 100m race in our teams and then played a game against the coaching staff. The teams were the 16s and the 12s against the 14s and the coaching staff. We lost 4-3 but it was great fun.

After training we had 1 hour before lunch and then we went to the Yashow Markets for any last day bargains. After a couple of hours of bargaining, all the coaches and parents and players were broke so we headed off to the final presentation dinner.

At the presentation the coaches gave out a players' player award and a coaches award for each player. The 12s players' player award went to Nathan Lozado and the coaches award went to Jacob Robertson. The 14s players' player went to David Sarac and the coaches award went to Nick Dimitriadis. Finally, the 16s players' player award went to Harry Brown and the coaches award went to Marcus Zarantonello. When this finished the boys had their own presentation to the staff. Damien Brown received a Beijing Guan jersey signed by the boys on the tour. Seb and John received a Mariners Academy training jersey signed by the boys. The coaches then all received a sports Jumper. Then the physio James received a signed I Love Beijing shirt by the boys and a jumper. It was a great last day.