Porto Dragonforce Academy coaches lead the coaching sessions during the tour.

School Travel Organiser speaks to PE teacher Richard Alderson about Northfield School and Sports College’s recent Inpiresport football tour to Portugal.

Inspiresport aims to introduce elite sports to a new generation by offering football, rugby, hockey, cricket and ski tours that connect pupils with professionals in the sports.

Northfield School and Sports College in Stockton-on-Tees has taken students on numerous successful Inspiresport trips in the past, including to Holland in 2013, and was looking to explore a new country on this year’s tour. After a recommendation by Inspiresport, the school chose to take a mixed ability group of 12 to 15 year olds on a Porto Football Tour in Portugal.

The five day trip included football coaching by Porto Dragonforce Academy coaches, tickets to one of Porto’s Portuguese league games, a tour of Porto’s stadium and museum, as well as a city tour.

“Football is the main sport at the school and we wanted to reward the pupils who attend school football clubs and play for the school football teams,” Richard Alderson, Northfield’s PE teacher and football coach, explained.

However, as well as acting as a fun reward for the pupils’ work ethic and dedication to school sport, there were curriculum, character education and cultural benefits to the tour too. There was the opportunity to experience different coaching styles in a new environment at Porto’s academy facilities, as well as experience Portuguese culture.

“I think all the pupils learnt something new and showed progression throughout the five days. They all improved their technical ability and tactical understanding,” Alderson said.

“The pupils experienced living and playing football in a different country, which can be very good for life skills and experiencing something different away from home and family.

“Some really grew up and took responsibility for themselves living in a foreign country away from their parents.”

Skills associated with playing sport, such as teamwork, leadership and giving 100 per cent are also nurtured on Inspiresport trips, whilst students often come back with increased confidence and self-belief too after experiencing what Alderson described as a “trip of a lifetime”.

Alderson also praised the organisation and management of both Inspiresport and Porto Football Club, which allowed the trip to run smoothly.

“The Porto organisation and management was excellent. I filled in a questionnaire before we left based on the pupils’ age and ability. The coaches then planned the sessions based on this information. Throughout the five days, all the coaching was to an excellent standard and the coaches were first class.

“Porto has excellent coaches, the facilities at the academies are first class, and everything is organised for the pupils to enjoy themselves in a disciplined and safe environment.

“All the pupils loved every minute. They responded to the coaching and really enjoyed the sessions and the games,” Alderson said. “The stadium and museum tour was also a highlight for them.”