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Youth

Festival 'makes you feel like a first-team player'

9 Sep 2018
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As PL Under-9 Welcome Festival gets under way, two Arsenal youngsters share their experience from last year

More than 500 boys made their first step towards Premier League football on Sunday at the League’s Under-9 Welcome Festival in Warwick.

It will be their first tournament in the Premier League Games Programme, which goes all the way up to Under-23 level.

Two boys from Arsenal, Teshaun and Brando, spoke of their experience at last year’s festival.

"I couldn't believe that I was in a Premier League tournament," Teshaun, 9, said in the video above. "You feel like you're one of the first-team players."

Brando, also 9, says at first he was overawed by the event.

"At the beginning you kind of feel nervous and you kind of think, 'What happens if I play really bad?'" he said. "'What happens if I concede the ball and let them score?'"

But they added that playing matches and the noise from the crowd soon eased their concerns.

The festival introduces the boys to competitive football involving the country's best teams as well as players from different backgrounds.

The Arsenal pair enjoyed the test at Warwick last year.

"Premier League players have better touches, they were more calm on the ball," Brando said. "And they pressed you a lot harder."

Their Arsenal Under-9 team did not claim a trophy at Warwick but it was the platform for a successful season at the various tournaments the Games Programme provided, including futsal.

"Last year was a really good year for us because we just kept on winning tournaments," Brando says. "I think we lost one tournament, and all the rest we just won."

Also in this series

Part 1: Nelson: My chance came from hard work
Part 2: Nelson: You have to be ready when the call comes

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