After thousands of entries, it all comes down to this. The Chance UK Final has arrived. Up for grabs, three places at the Global Final in Barcelona. SoccerBible was pitch-side following all of the action. The selected 100 from all reaches of the UK arrived at Salford City Stadium ready to stand up and stand out.
The UK Final is a four day process used to identify the final 3 players that will represent the UK at the Global Final in Barcelona. Day one kicked off with a presentation that explained the opportunity that The Chance is bringing to these individuals.
The 100 finalists were introduced to Nike's prestige panel of judges, including Neil Banfield (Arsenal First Team Coach), Matt Wells (Tottenham Hotspurs Coach), Jimmy Gilligan (Nike Academy Head Coach), Jon Goodman (Nike Academy Performance Director and SPARQ Performance Expert) and Neil Smillie (Head of Nike Talent Identification).
Jimmy Gilligan welcomed the 100 UK Chance Finalists and encouraged them to work hard and prove themselves. “Take on board what the coaches say to you, don’t ignore it. Show your hunger, today is only the beginning. Play fierce”. Gilligan also told them about the Nike Academy and explained that a place could be up for grabs.
The 100 finalists got changed into their personalised Nike Chance training gear and headed out onto the pitch for a 2 hour SPARQ training session to gage accurate readings of each players athletic/skill statistics.
After being fully briefed on the afternoon ahead, the coaching assessment quickly began. The 100 athletes were split into 2 groups of 50. One group performed drills and fitness workouts. The second group played 11 a side matches. These groups then rotated.
Coaches deliberated and decided which 50 athletes proved themselves enough to go through to day 2 of The UK Chance Final. They were taken to the prestigious Mottram Hall for dinner and to watch the European Championship semi final in the Nike players lounge within the hotel. The remaining 50 were immediately sent home after the announcement.
Reflecting on day 1, Jimmy Gilligan said; “The day has been extremely successful. The final 50 players need to look after their bodies tonight to be game ready tomorrow. They need to fuel up on carbs and water, manage their injuries and go to bed early. We expect the boys to keep impressing us from here on out.”
“The competition has brought in players of a fantastic standard. They need to ensure they use this chance as a vehicle to get noticed. The Chance UK is a huge opportunity for these boys. They are playing in front of some of the most influential people in the world of football. This visibility is a great opportunity for them all if they take it.”
“We’re looking for 3 guys that can affect a football match. They need to stand out by expressing themselves and showing composure on the ball. We’re looking for 3 finalists that will represent The UK Chance in the highest esteem, being credit to us all.”
Stay tuned to SoccerBible as we'll be following the UK finalists all the way to the Global Final in Barcelona. Check back tomorrow for all of the action from day 2 of The Chance UK Final.