Youth coach Mark Phillips believes the opportunity for youngsters to play in international tournaments will help elevate them towards greater success.
Despite the under 18 squad losing in the final of the Hong Kong Soccer Sevens last week, Phillips said there are a lot of positives to take from the experience.
Having only missed out to a golden goal against a strong Atletico Madrid side, the coach said: “Obviously we’re slightly disappointed, but also really encouraged when you think about the age of us and the age of the teams we played.
“We came here mostly for experience and hoping we’d do well, but I think we’ve been fantastic. Every one of the ten players have been ideal. I can’t think of a player that hasn’t done well.
“A couple of them really elevated themselves, but the whole team, the effort they put in in heat and humidity, I really am proud of them.”
It was the first time since 2012 the club had sent a team to the tournament, and despite being one of the youngest squads, the players turned in a series of mature performances.
Having remained unbeaten in the group stages, and beating Newcastle United in the semi-final, the final defeat was a bitter pill to swallow for the young squad, especially after leading the Spanish team 2-0.
But Phillips said: “It’s a good lesson to learn because they’re playing against men, which is what they’ve got to learn for the future.
“The strength and the age didn’t matter that much because of our pace.
“We had to work out how to play the game. We’ve been the best technical side here, but sometimes not always the best technical sides win tournaments, there’s a lot more things that come into play.”
The coach reserved special praise for the organisers of the tournament and said he hoped the team would return in future to try and go one better.
“The boys have absolutely loved it,” he said.
“I’ve been to tournaments all around the world and nothing compares to this. Its well run, the way you’re looked after, the organisation – absolutely superb.”