International football tournament success for Perse pupil
Lynden Long (Year 9) kicked off the football season in style by helping Norwich City’s youngsters win a major tournament in Finland.
The talented midfielder captained the Canaries’ combined U14/U13 team to victory at the HJK Cup in Helsinki.
Before the tournament began, Lynden and his team-mates had a rare opportunity to explore their surroundings, which he felt helped the side when it came to their togetherness on the field.
He said: “Because we didn’t have any matches on the first day, the coaches made a big effort and we got to walk around Helsinki, which is a great city.
“When you spend more time with your team-mates off the pitch, you get to know them better and it helps on the pitch in achieving what you want to do.”
Lynden was delighted to be awarded the captaincy, after giving a speech that received most votes from his team-mates, and Norwich got off to an excellent start with a 3-0 win over Estonian side Nomme United in their first group match.
They followed it up with a 2-0 victory against Finnish side Vasa and despite being held to a 1-1 draw by host club HJK, the Canaries topped their pool.
In the semi-final, Norwich faced another Finnish team, HoDy, but after being two goals up, they were pegged back to 2-2 late in the game.
Lynden said: “As captain, I felt I needed to give some advice, so I told the team to stop taking too many touches and to play it quickly. We calmed the game down and played some nice passages of football.”
There proved to be a bittersweet finish to the match for Lynden, who went on to score as Norwich ran out 4-2 winners, but also picked up a groin strain that meant he could not play in the final against Estonian side Levadia.
He still had the honour of leading his team out and lifting the trophy after Norwich won 5-4 in a penalty shootout following a goalless draw.
Lynden said: “It was a great experience on and off the pitch. Although I couldn’t play in the final, I still managed to help from the sidelines and it was brilliant to come home as champions.”