Clancy Catholic College West Hoxton Year 10 students Daniel Lopez and Antonio Natale are kicking goals in their sport of choice.
The pair travelled to Portugal for a two week football tour in April with the Blacktown Spartans U15 team where they played against the current U15 European Champions, Sporting Clube de Portugal in the VI Torneio Internacional de Futebol VFR tournament, placing fifth amid tough competition.
They also participated in a second tournament, the Champions in Loures 2015. Antonio, 15, was named captain of the team for both tournaments and gained individual and team respect for his sportsmanship and work ethic.
Daniel, 15, was named Best Goalkeeper of the tournament, his first international award. He was also invited to attend a three day Football Federation Australia (FFA) Australian National U16 training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra on April 20.
When you’re in the game you forget about everything else
Daniel said it was the first international competition for both Antonio and he and he relied on instinct to block many goals.
“The highlight would probably be winning the goalkeeper of the tournament award, and being recognised up against some of the biggest clubs around the world in my age group,” he said.
“We were pretty nervous going into the games against some of the top clubs.
“As a club we trained the whole beginning of the year but we played a tournament just before the [Portugal] tournament and played about five games so that was a good warm up for us.
“We both like the competition of it and the adrenaline rush you get once you’re in the game. When you’re in the game you forget about everything else and you’re fully concentrated on what you’re doing.
“It was a really good experience going over to Portugal and seeing how football there is very different thanks to our coach Paul who made it possible.”
Antonio said he began playing the sport when he was four years old.
“Probably being put captain was the biggest highlight, because I wasn’t back in Australia and it was a good opportunity to be captain through the big tournaments,” he said.
“When I came back the coach asked me to be captain for the full season.
“I think my team mates like it because they like how I lead them out on the field.
“My goal is to continue playing and make it high up in football.”