WHILE England’s national football team crashed out of the World Cup in dismal fashion, a small junior club from Kendal enjoyed a much more fruitful trip to the Americas this summer.
Featuring a record turnout of 1,060 teams from 21 US states and 19 countries, the Schwan's USA Cup, held in Blaine, Minnesota, is the largest youth football tournament in the Western Hemisphere.
And among teams taking part were Ibis under 16s, who train at Jubilee Playing Fields.
The plucky youngsters competed against teams from USA, Mexico and Finland but were eventually edged out in the final.
“We worked hard all season during training and over the last few seasons played some of the best football in our league,” said manager Peter Leonard.
“We carried on our form going into the USA Cup and the lads showed how good they were. We were very unlucky in the final and if we had a full squad I have no doubt it would have been a different game.
“However, we what we achieved was fantastic for local youth football in this area.”
Over the past two seasons Ibis fundraised in excess of five thousand pounds giving themselves a massive boost towards going to the 2014 USA Cup.
Entrance to the cup, flights, accommodation, food and other expenses meant Ibis needed to raise around twenty thousand pounds and were helped out by generous donations from local businesses.
The team also organised a number of community events including fun days, penalty shoot-outs, quizzes and raffle and race nights before setting off to the tournament on July 12.
Landing in Minneapolis, they trained for two days to acclimitise to the heat and used the pool to stretch and recover.
"The opportunity to train at a complex that owned over fifty full sized pitches and an eight and half thousand seated stadium was amazing," added Leonard.
Ibis dispatched NLS Galaxy 2-0 in their opening group game through goals by Jack Watson and Blane Dixon before heading to the tournament's opening ceremony.
"The capacity had been extended with additional seating and the team walked out in front of a ten thousand plus crowd," said Leonard. "The ceremony was fantastic and gave the lads an experience they will never forget."
The next day Ibis played live on National Soccer Center TV and lost 3-1 to Tenancingo from Mexico with Chris Harper bagging the consolation goal for Ibis.
Knowing they needed a victory in their final game, Ibis ran riot against ESPC Vipers.
A one-sided game ended 9-1 with doubles from Josh Kirkby and Thomas Read adding to goals from Harper, Angus Pinkney, Jack Watson, Alex Fearn and a Jamie Cooper penalty.
The quarter finals saw Ibis take on Minnesota-based outfit Park Valley United.
A close first half ended with slender lead 1-0 thanks to another Kirkby goal. The game opened up in the second half and Watson and Harper secured the victory.
Colegio Vista of Mexico, who defeated Tenancingo in the last eight, awaited the Kendal team in the semi-final.
A tight first half saw the teams battle out a 0-0 draw at half-time but just minutes into the second half Dixon opened the scoring for Ibis with a left footed shot across the keeper.
The scoreline was made even more handsome moments after the restart when Harper doubled the lead with a spectacular left foot volley sending the Ibis players and coaches wild.
Just four hours later Ibis found themselves on the wrong end of a 7-2 drubbing in the final by FYLKIR 1329 ISL - with both Ibis goals scored by Canadian loan singing Jack Monyard.