Everton Football College’s Under-18s have returned home after their stunning run to the final of the Dallas Cup, one of the most prestigious youth tournaments in the world.
The final, which saw Everton Football College’s side take on Inwood SC ID Houston Legends at the Toyota Stadium, home of MLS side FC Dallas, was also shown in the US on ESPN3.
The team had a fantastic run in the tournament, defeating Sporting FC (4-1) and drawing with Tableview FC (1-1) and host side FC Dallas (0-0) to progress from their group.
They went on to overcome Chelsea East SC (2-0) in the last eight, before a victory (1-0) against ASSPF Soccer Paradise Banfield booked them a place in the final.
While the showpiece event ended in a 3-1 defeat against the tournament’s stand-out side, the students reflected on a fantastic week, packed with development opportunities and having made lifelong memories.
🇺🇸 WE ARE GOING THE FINAL 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/IJkVNKbQkh— Everton Football College (@EvertonCollege) April 16, 2022
The College’s female Under-19 side - the first English female team to participate in the tournament - went all the way to the semi-finals of their competition, and the male Under-17 team narrowly missed out on the knockout stages, winning two of their three group games and losing only to the eventual tournament winners.
Each year, more than 100,000 spectators watch teams from across the globe play in both elite and general competition at the invitation-only event, held in Texas.
The tournament is potentially life-changing for some of the students, with scouts from US universities and football clubs watching the games.
As a result of playing in previous tournaments, a number of former Everton Football College and Everton Academy students have earned football scholarships to study for degrees at US universities in subjects including Business and Management and Engineering, and others have gone on to play for US Clubs or secure coaching roles stateside.
Steven Baker OBE, Principal of Everton Football College, said: “I’m so proud of how well our students performed, and of our coaches, who prepared our students magnificently and supported them in Dallas. They were all incredible ambassadors for the College – and the Everton badge itself - and we are looking forward to returning to Dallas even stronger next year.
“This trip was about the football, but it was also about personal development. Some of the students got to see what it is like to live and study in America, as they stayed with host families, including fellow tournament players. Others may even go on to play and study in the US as a result of playing in this tournament. We are proud to be able to give such potentially life-changing opportunities to our students, who were a credit to themselves and our College.”
John Keegan, Curriculum Coordinator of Post-16 Sport and Football Coaching at Everton Football College, said: “It has been a privilege to see the students through the preparation stage, to actually being here and experiencing what the Dallas Cup had to offer. Every student has taken advantage of the opportunity of being here and has given it their all, succeeding in an international tournament that they had never experienced before. They have learned so much during the trip, and many of them now have a better outlook on what they want for their own futures. The students and staff also really valued having our new Principal Steve Baker cheering them on.
“We are delighted that due to their performances at the tournament, some of our students have begun talking to US universities regarding football scholarships once they have finished their education with us here at the Football College.”
Also joining the students for the first time in Dallas was former Everton player, and now Everton Football College Coach, Joe Parkinson – who lifted the FA Cup with the Blues in 1995.
Joe, Under-17s coach for Everton Football College, said: “This was my first time at the Dallas Cup, and it has been a privilege to be part of the coaching staff. The standard at the tournament was incredibly high. For all of our teams to achieve what they have, shows how dedicated they are as players, and what it means to them to be part of Everton Football College. Every student here has been focused on being their best and making themselves, and us, proud, and I am sure that they will reap the rewards of this for a long time.”
As well as the Dallas Cup, Everton Football College students have also had opportunities including five-month coaching placements in Aruba, and football tours to Martinique and Valencia – and there are plans to visit New York in July.