The 2016 Victory Shield tournament kicks off this weekend at the Oriam, Scotland’s state of the art Sports Performance Centre in Edinburgh.
The Victory Shield is an annual football tournament competed for by the U16 teams of Scotland, Republic of Ireland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The shield had traditionally involved the four home nations, but the FA announced in 2015 that the England team would withdraw from the competition ‘for the foreseeable future’ in order to achieve a more varied fixture list so that the Young Lions would face European and world opposition much earlier in their careers. As a result, the competition has been revamped and for the second year in a row, the Republic of Ireland will take the place of England.
The U16 tournament dates back to 1925 and therefore has a great deal of historic interest and significance in the youth football calendar. There’s not a lot of differences between the playing styles of the four teams, so each will fancy their chances against their counterparts to win the shield.
Scotland prepared for the tournament with a double header against a very impressive France U16 team at the end of last month and will be confident that the depth and quality of their squad, along with home advantage, will be enough to secure the title.
Wales head to Edinburgh hoping to create some history of their own as they look to defend their crown and make it three straight tournament wins. The squad prepared with a double header against their German counterparts at the start of September and will hope that the experience will stand them in good stead next week.
The Northern Ireland squad are also in fine fettle ahead of their Victory Shield mission having played Estonia, Slovakia, and Finland in a series of international challenge matches over the last few months. Elite performance coach, Darren Murphy, will hope his sides thorough preparation will be enough to collect the trophy for only the second time in the competition’s history.
The Republic of Ireland U16 Head Coach, Paul Osman, has named his 22 man squad for the forthcoming Victory Shield tournament against their neighbouring opponents. Osman experienced the tournament last year in Newport, leading his side to draws against Scotland and Northern Ireland before being narrowingly defeated by the hosts Wales. This year’s team have prepared for the competition with friendly matches against St Patrick’s and Bohemians U17s as well as appearing at the Mayo and Galway Cup.
The tournament provides the players with an opportunity to test themselves on the international stage and continue their progression up the development ladder. The experience of playing against new players in a competitive environment will offer a different challenge to our youth players and will ultimately further their education in the game.
The 360 Team are looking forward to watching the games next week and wish everyone involved all the best for the experience ahead.
The schedule for this year’s Victory Shield is:
Sunday 30 October
2pm – Scotland v Northern Ireland
5pm – Wales v Republic of Ireland
Tuesday 1 November
1pm – Republic of Ireland v Northern Ireland
4pm – Scotland v Wales
Friday 4 November
12.30pm – Northern Ireland v Wales
3.30pm – Scotland v Republic of Ireland
Blog by Elliott Fillingham, Head of Football at 360 Sports Consultancy