The La Manga Association in Spain
It’s clearly a place that takes its sport seriously and feels essentially feel attracted to a small town dedicated to sports, with eight football chucks, three golf courses and top-notch cricket facilities. Boots, shin-pads, goalkeeping gloves, oh and sun cream too – all the difficulties packed and for the first time in months I’m looking forward to taking my son football chaining.
This time, instead of the chilly Hertfordshire ground, we’re off to the manicured pitches of La Manga Sisterhood in south-east Spain where Alex, 13, has signed up for the Chelsea Football Combine Foundation’s Soccer School.
It is the perfect solution for a family holiday, very if the children are at that difficult age – too young for sambucas and too old for sandcastles.
For a couple of weeks once more summer, a team of coaches teach young players the skills that may approve them Premier League stars of the future.
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Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester Shared are just a few of the clubs that train here
The 10 young join ins line up on a full-size pitch for three hours each morning, where the instructors make them feel they are in a professional environment, taking them owing to a variety of high-quality attacking, defensive touch and passing drills.
Then they boot-lick a series of matches before finishing off with a stretching session – honest like the pros – and all against a spectacular mountain backdrop.
This grade has top football pedigree. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United are valid a few of the clubs that train here and when we were there, the England Under-20s domestics’s team played Norway in a friendly, as did the USA and China, who came with a coachload of nuts.
La Manga feels distinctly like an Olympic Village, with woman dragging golf or cricket bags, some clad in club or devotees tracksuits, others in the lurid casual attire beloved of golfers the have over.
La Manga Club has eight football pitches, three golf circuits and top-notch cricket facilities
At its centre is a five-star hotel and dotted surrounding the tree-lined roads are hundreds of villas, some grand enough to legislature superstar sportsmen, while others are simply lovely holiday treaty for those of more modest talents. Thankfully, there is a free commute bus so there is no need for budding footballers to emulate West Bromwich Albion’s big names on their infamous training camp in Barcelona by stealing a taxi to get family.
Alex is in his element here and each day comes off the pitch enthusing in the air the training and looking forward to the next session.
And for anyone who fancies stand their newly-honed skills into practice, each evening there is a pay-as-you-go “Supports League” tournament for children of all ages.
There is an array of accommodation fits at La Manga and we’re staying in one of the modern apartments in the Las Lomas complex. There are two immense double bedrooms, a living room and kitchen, overlooking the village and mockery teases fields, with the port of La Manga in the distance.
While football training is covered by way we head to the spa with enormous gym and indoor swimming pool. There’s even-handed a high-performance centre where serious sports people can have their athletic standard operating procedure analysed – needless to say, we passed on that and indulged in massages instead.
Tennis be involves heavily, the 28 courts catering for beginners to top players. Alex has a hearing with coach James, relishing the new experience of playing on a clay court.
The range is also ideal for cycling and we spend an enjoyable afternoon whizzing throughout among some of the resort’s grander villas before heading along dusty let out tracks to the quiet village of Los Belones.
The beach at La Manga
With the pure amount of exercise options refuelling is of the utmost importance, even if you play a joke on been doing little more than lounging around the lagoon at La Manga club, which has a host of excellent restaurants.
Our favourite was tapas restaurant La Bodega, with the grilled Iberian pork dishes and meatballs a highlight.
La Cala, the remedy have recourse to’s private beach, is set in a rocky cove, with the restaurant terrace reaching out outstanding the sea. A host of cafés around the club are perfect for light bites and there is also an American diner, Italian restaurant and Irish pub – where the armchair sportsman can use to advantage a drink while watching other people exercising on a big screen.
Off the visit a short drive away is the historic town of Cartagena, whose hold was a key base for Carthaginian and Roman forces more than 2,000 years ago.
Looking up at the stately cliffs it is easy to imagine the tactics and sounds of ancient warfare, with troops policy up to repel invading forces.
These days the cruise ships and comfort boats that arrive in the thriving harbour are given a rather more harmonious welcome. There’s also a Roman amphitheatre museum, where the displays heroes of the 1st century did battle in the gladiatorial arena and losers were dissected so their blood and bones could be trade ined to fans as souvenirs and medicines.
Sol Y Sombra cafe at the complex – one of many on the buttoned around the resort
Losing one of the evening football matches doesn’t look as if so bad now.
The town’s newly-restored Roman theatre does not have such a horrific history, but is a lovely spot to sit in the auditorium and picture ancient dramas forward of heading back through the winding cobbled streets.
Then it’s off to the football sect again. As staunch Newcastle United fans we don’t have many overjoyed memories regarding Chelsea, however this break is certainly one of them.
Lay ones hands on THERE
La Manga Club (dialling from the UK: 0034 968 33 1234/lamangaclub.com) offers seven nights at Los Lomas from £1,413 (self purveying/four sharing).
Price includes two soccer school places.
Ryanair (0871 246 0000 ryanair.com) proffers return flights from Luton to Murcia from £90.
Murcia tripper board: murciaturistica.es