Youth Football

Junior Leagues kick off!

A great weekend of Junior Football in the early autumn sunshine as the GFA Youth leagues kicked off. Most of our youth teams were in action both inside and outside. Both coaches and players have put in a lot of hours into this opening weekend. Our thanks to the GFA’s Grassroots Division for organising the leagues and tournaments. All our teams kicked off with their brand new kits modelled on the senior’s. Some great performances but the most important thing is the smiles on the kid’s faces and the sheer enjoyment of being on the field of play!






Youth Focus: Under 6s

The Under 6 age group category has been newly created by the GFA following the restructure of Youth Football over the Summer under the auspices of Director of Football, Desi Curry. Chris Ward and Michael Peliza are tasked with guiding these young footballers as they take their first tentative steps onto a football pitch. The team is comprised from graduates from our Pre-Leagues team and some new signings.


We asked the coaches how pre-season had gone?

CW – The kids this season have had a great pre-season I got them to get  familiar with a five aside pitch and got them to learn their technical abilities. They have really enjoyed it especially when I we are getting brilliant feedback from the parents which helps. The team is having fun and they can’t wait for the season to start especially as next we have our first competitive friendly match.



We asked Michael what their goals were for the forthcoming season.

MP – Our aim this year is to teach the children to play as a team and show them the importance of winning humbly and accepting losses. We also wish to create a team of good sportsmen that show kindness and understanding between themselves and towards opposing team and officials.

Youth Focus: Under 10s

Our Under 10 team is coached by Father and Son team Joe and Liam Franco. Jos is no stranger to local youth football at all levels and even at National Squad level too. Liam is doubling up his youth coach duties with turning out for the senior team having made his debut against FC Bruno’s Magpies Reserves on Sunday. The Under 10s have been together for a number of seasons and are a well gelled and oiled football machine that got to the finals of the FUTSAL tournament and the Under 9 Cup last year. They capped off a great season by participating in the Boni Cup in Marbella in June. It is their turn to showcase their talents today.


Liam, coming from a player who has played at the top level in Gibraltar and internationally, how vital is it the kids get the same type of training you did while playing football?

LF: I think it’s important our players are exposed to the best possible coaching available for them to give them the best chance of developing into good footballers. Our group has worked on a lot of ball work, working on the fundamentals. Pass, RWTB ECT. Joe and myself like our players to be comfortable and creative and we intend to continue working hard throughout the season to reach our goals.

Joe, how has preseason gone so far?

JF: We’ve taken part in friendlies across the border in Spain winning 2 drawing 1 and losing just the one game. This already has been a good learning curve for our young footballers as they’ve experienced firsthand the standard of football across the way. Now that we’ll begin our season the team with follow a strict football curriculum which will cover all areas of the game. The programme has been put together by both of us and we look forward to evaluating ourselves and the players.


Lads, what are you hoping to achieve this season?

LF & JF: Our goals for the season are to see our players grow and develop. First and foremost it will be a job well done if our players improve into good individual footballers whilst performing and understanding their responsibilities as a team.


Youth Focus: Under 8s

It is the turn of our third years to introduce themselves today. They have been coached since the off by JC Diaz who this season is assisted by Nyle March. JC has worked wonders for the team that played in two semi-finals last season. As always JC coaches with a broad smile on his face and it is clear he has a wonderful rapport with his team.


JC, how did last season go with your team?

The children made good progress last year and this was evident in the way they developed their ball skills and tactical awareness. The highs of last season were managing to reach the semi finals of the Cup for the second year running and also reaching the semifinals of the Futsal tournament.

How has training and Pre-Season gone so far?

This year we have three new additions to our squad. These are Keith Medhurst, Anthony Garcia and Najim Harrak. They will strengthen us further. Pre season training has gone well so far. We have played two friendly games including one against Peña Madridista in La Linea. This was a good and learning experience for our players.


A final thought JC?

This will be my third season coaching this team. It has been an amazing experience and I have seen the children make fantastic progress over the years. I am very proud of the effort and work put in by the children throughout.

Youth Focus: Under 5s

Today’s youth spotlight falls on the youngest members of our Club; the Under 5s. The Club has run a successful pre-leagues PeeWees session for the past two seasons under the excellent guidance of Earon Balloqui. The reshuffle of Youth Football carried out by the GFA over the Summer has meant that a new age category was created resulting in the fielding of Under 5 sides for the first time. Our group of young, budding footballers will be lead by Seamus Byrne a longtime supporter and indeed former player of the Club. He was kind enough to answer our questions.


Seamus, how does it feel to be joining Gibraltar United at this exciting time?

It’s really exciting to be part of this new era for Gibraltar United. I am confident the new owners will bring a more professional set up that will raise our standards and ethics, both as a club and for the players. The main beneficiaries will be the children in our Youth Teams.


What are you hoping to achieve with the team this coming season?

Last year, the team players were part of Gib Utd’s Peewees session and trained well under Earon Balloqui. This year, I hope players will improve their technical ability and have more awareness of the game. I hope through the training sessions and matches, players will be able to enjoy themselves and if we can win a game or a few it’s a bonus! Having fun and enjoying the game is our key objective to be able to foster a love for the game that will last a lifetime.


Youth Focus: Under 7s

Today is the turn of our Under 7s that are coached by Chino and Karl Sciortino to introduce themselves. This team went from strength to strength last year and got to the semi finals of the Under 7 Cup. Chino is starting his second year with the team while Karl joins him on the sidelines coaching this tremendous group of kids. Once again they were kind enough to answer our questions.


Karl, how has preseason gone so far?

KS: The Under 7s have had a break during the summer season. In August a meeting was held with parents where the coaches discussed the aims and objectives for this season. The players were also invited to the meeting which was held at McDonalds. This gave the children a chance to meet up and play before the season begins. The team has signed three new players; Jay Hemmi, Joshua Villa and Lucas Becerra Lopez. On Friday 15th of September a friendly match was played vs. Mons Calpe U7 and we will work in training sessions for the build up to the start of the season.6.jpg

Chino, what positives can you take from last season into the new one which starts soon?

KG: Last season was a new experience for me as a coach, one I enjoyed very much. I learned a lot about myself and coaching and I hope to take those lessons learnt into this season.

This is your second year as a coach, how will you use your experience to help the kids as you’re our club captain and a full international?

KG: This season I will be coaching the U7 football team and from my experience as a player; I hope to teach the kids discipline, respect and above all to enjoy the beautiful game. This season though we have a good professional guideline to follow and without a doubt the kids will be learning more specific skills.

Finally Karl, what do you hope to achieve this season?

KS: The main aim for this season is to develop our player to play as a team and I would be really pleased if we could make it into the top 3 teams this year.

Youth Focus: Under 9s

With Youth Football soon to kick off across all age Categories we will be introducing our Youth Teams and coaches over the following days. The kids have been working hard through the Summer and in Pre-Season led by a team of dedicated and committed coaches. Today we introduce our Under 9’s coached by Ian Mañasco and Ernest Costa. We caught up with the team and asked them a few questions.


1. Ian, reflect on how your team did last season.

IM: Last season’s reflection was a very positive one considering it was a new team and our first year together. The team was facing a massive change going from 5a side to 7aside and from the small Futsal pitches to Pitch 2 which is much, much bigger. The team has taken the new scenario very well and given massive steps forward, they have proved they can compete with all the teams in the league, even the second-year ones. Our lowest moment came just after Christmas when all the teams had still not completed the first round of fixtures and the GFA decided to split the league in 2 tiers. Sadly, to our surprise we had been put in the Second tier after we had won all our games beating Under 9 teams of 2nd year. Our best moment and highlight must be finishing off our season playing in the prestigious Boni cup in Marbella with teams from all over Spain. The team and myself have benefited from this massive experience and has given us the right motivation to work even harder in the future.


2. What are you hoping to achieve this season?

IM: For this year I hope to see the team continue with the development and potential shown up to now. Our aim this season will be set on the Futsal cup and the league cup which are the only two competitive titles to play for. The team is already well into pre-season and with the necessary motivation and work ethic to achieve our objectives.


3. Ernest, how has preseason gone so far with your team?

EC: This year we began pre-season on the last week of August in Sandy bay. Training in the beach is hard but it is also fun for them, we have a great group of boys, we really make sure they enjoy their football and their time together. In the last couple of weeks, we have also played two friendly matches in Spain in order for them to begin to get the feel of it after a long summer break. Thanks to Palmones and Peña Madridista for having us. We are really looking forward to begin training more regularly (as soon as the allocations become available) and for the season to begin.

Season in Review

30th June is a marked day in many football calendars around the world as it sees the end of one season and the start of another with many contracts traditionally finishing on this date. As such it is fitting that we post our 2016/17 season review today as the football world begins to turn its attention to the 2017/18 season.

Gib Utd.png

United moved fast and quick in the heady days of the summer of 2016 to secure several marquee signings. GFA regular Jamie Bosio joined from Lincoln FC after completing his studies and he was joined by the Hernandez brothers from Man 62. Jason Pusey, Paul Podesta, Ashley Rodriguez, Aymen Mouehli, Erin Barnett Dani Wink and Jesse Victory all signed for the club in a bid to challenge for a place higher up in the league.

A mixed preseason saw an inconsistent run of results as Manolo gelled in so many new faces into the squad. So many new players in key positions meant that there was an unfamiliarity and lack of chemistry that takes time to foster. Yet as is his want, the manager drilled the squad hard in preseason to have them ready for a late September kick off against Manchester 62.


United’s first game of the 16/17 Season

Robert Montvio promised to carry on where he had left off the previous year by netting a brace that earned United a point when perhaps they should have got three. After one game the league took its first hiatus for International Football and Jeff Wood called up a number of United players and its also provided an opportunity for new players to gel with their new team mates. Games against recently crowned European Champions Portugal and the first FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for Gibraltar followed.

The league continued mid October with United facing tough opposition in champions Lincoln, 3rd placed St Joseph’s and in Mons Calpe the surprise package of the season. 3 defeats left us 7th hovering above Europa Point, Lions and Lynx FC. Our first win of the season came against the latter with yet another Montovio goal. United had showed great maturity in their play and the results against Lincoln in particular showed the progress made.

United were dealt a major injury blow early in the season when defensive stalwart, Brad Power, succumbed to a major injury that was to leave him out of the game for a long time. Jason Pusey stepped into the breach and became the defensive rock Manolo built his defence. Erin Barnett was his constant companion flanked by Pishu and Perez. A dour 0-0 draw against Lions FC augured what was to come however.


Robert in action vs Lincoln Red Imps

The Red and Whites next tasted ‘victory’ in a forfeited match in early December but broke off for the Christmas with a tremendous morale booster of a 3-1 win over Man 62 in which Paul Podesta scored a spectacular long range effort to seal the win. The Red and Whites however entered a very negative spiral of results that threatened to unhinge the whole season.

In a run of 12 matches from January to April, United garnered two points and went 6 games without scoring as the dependable John Wayne (aka Robert Montovio) found that his powder had gone somewhat dry. A 93rd minute loss to basement club Europa Point saw United at their lowest ebb as the spectre of relegation loomed large. January had also seen club stalwarts Jared Buhagiar and Carl Thomas leave the club, they had a combined appearance total of 125 and would now don the claret and blue of Glacis United. EL Andalussi and Marquez were transferred to Mons Calpe while evergreen Robba resigned for the club alongside Paul Grech.

Gibraltar United also showed that it was committed to its civic duties when it supported a charity initiative by Stuart Felice and joined him for his Dip a Day on a cold, wet but fun March afternoon at Camp Bay.

April 2017 however brought the most momentous news in the Club’s recent history. News broke that former Real Madrid and Spain international Michel Salgado, alongside Dubai based banker Pablo Dana, had bought the club. There was an immediate stir of excitement, not only among United supporters, as Michel Salgado landed on the Rock on the 4th April 2017 to announce not only his purchase of the club but also a partnership with Turicum Private Bank as the club’s main sponsor. Michel met all the teams in the Youth Division as well as the Senior squad. Morale was on the up and the effect was immediately felt on the field.

Turicum Logo 2016, white on blue background, two lines - 2 June 2016

United had rediscovered their form. A battling point against St Joseph’s was followed by two more draws and a much needed victory against Glacis United that pulled United away from the relegation places and into safety. Both Hernandez brothers scored against Glacis United with Pishu showing a composure beyond his years to seal the win very late on. Despite a catastrophic result against Europa FC, United saw the season out in 7th place, an improvement on last season and with solid foundations being laid for a more promising 2017/18 season as the Salgado era began.

The club finished the season with a massive recruitment drive and held youth trials at the stadium for over 130 young  players and held a charity Gala night in which £5,000 was raised for the Calpe House trust. Club legend Adolfo Ramriez was named the Club’s Life Honorary President. Oh yes and just the small matter of a World Cup and Champions League Winner, Brazil legend called Roberto Carlos being the club’s guest of honour!


Vi et Animo, Ad Victoriam!

Michel meets the Youth Divisions

After the formalities were over Michel was keen to get to the pitch to see our Youth Divisions at work. He has already stressed the importance of the grassroots level of football in his press interviews and he spent a whole training sessions with our youth teams, from Pre Leagues to Under 11s. As the President introduced him to our Youth Coaches Michel stopped here and there to shake hands or give pointers to some star struck boys and girls. He certainly had caused a sensation if the avalanche of photograph and autograph requests at the end of the session is anything to go by.


The Future of Gibraltar United


Michel passes on some tips from on defender to another.


Star struck youngsters meet the new owner


Dip a Day With Stuart Felice

Our Futsal Keeper Stuart Felice has been carrying out a Dip a Day challenge with a view to raise funds for RICC. He has set himself the goal of having a dip in the sea everyday between Boxing Day 2016 and Boxing Day 2017. Last Friday it was Dip Number 89 and the club decided to support Stuart in this most worthy endeavour.

Grey skies and pouring rain and a drop in temperatures did not deter the Gibraltar United family from doing its Civic Duty and players, officials and coaches from the Youth all the way to the Senior Division all joined Stuart in his Dip. It was great fun and indeed Stuart has already surpassed his initial target and is now ploughing ahead to new goals.

A welcome drink was had by all after the shock of a wintry,March Dip!