Coach Darin Killpartrick and a crop of talented young players are helping put Chichester on the international football map.
The head of the football academy at Chichester College has just returned from Italy where he led the England Colleges under-18 side into battle with other nations in the Roma Caput Mondi.
A number of teenagers from Chichester and other Sussex colleges were in the squad, who played Italy, Albania and Malta but just missed out on a semi-final spot in the eight-team tournament.
Where as England and Wales send college-based squads to these tournaments, a number of countries send their national under-18 side – meaning the standard of play is very high.
Killpartrick is in his second year in charge of the England side and says he regards the role as a great honour.
The squad who spent six days in Italy included some top Sussex talent – midfielders Tommy Block and Joseph Clarke, full-back Fintan Walsh and strikers Luke Brodie and Charlie Coppola.
Block goes to South Downs College in Hampshire and is on Bognor FC’s books while Clarke is one of Killpartrick’s students at Chi College and has been impressing in Selsey FC’s Southern Combination division-one team.
Walsh and Brodie both go to Worthing College, with Walsh another who the Rocks are keeping tabs and Brodie with their Ryman premier neighbours Worthing FC.
Coppola goes to college in Brighton and plays for Ryman one south outfit Lewes – and he was on target as England beat Malta 3-1, a result which was not quite enough to help the team progress following 2-0 losses in good, competitive games against Albania and hosts Italy.
Killpartrick said the trip was a fantastic experience for him personally and for all the players.
“It was an unbelievably good week,” said Killpartrick, who is also coach at the Rocks.
“The tournament was so well run, we were really well looked after and the tournament was excellent.
“The standard of football played by all the teams was very, very high, chiefly because a lot of the other teams are not just college sides, they are international under-18 sides.
“We have a very strong England squad – it has got stronger over time – but the fact we didn’t qualify from the group tells you how strong the other sides are. We gave it a good go and can be pleased with what we achieved.
“The England Colleges Football Association has really progressed in the past few years. Colleges around the country are starting to push football in a big way and have some great courses and programmes.
“I like to think Chichester College is at the centre of this and has pioneered things.
“The college have been supportive to me and their students who have made the squad in allowing us time to work with the ECFA and I think our involvement has really put Chichester and in fact the whole of Sussex on the football map.”
Killpartrick feels a number of the England squad are destined to play their domestic football at a good level.
Squad skipper Ben Goodliffe is doing well at National League premier side Boreham Wood, where he has former Rocks keeper Grant Smith for company.
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