"Going abroad, you get to know the lads better and get more from a four or five-day tour than six months of coaching in terms of finding out what they are like."

- Neil Harris,

Photo courtesy of Steve Hawkins

07/12/2012 14:47, Report by Adam Marshall
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Reds enjoy Ypres event

United's schoolboys recently took part in the Christmas Truce Tournament in Ypres, providing more valuable experience for the youngsters.

After winning the inaugural event last year, the Reds triumphed in two games (against Beerschot and Valenciennes) and lost the other two (to Anderlecht and eventual victors Borussia Monchengladbach).

"The organisers expanded it to two teams from each countries and we'd qualified as holders," explained coach Neil Harris. "West Brom also qualified after winning the regional competition at St George's Park.

"It's a magnificent tournament due to the cultural and historical off-the-pitch activities, and I am sure it'll give us added impetus next year to try and win the regional event to give other players and staff the opportunity to experience it next year."

Of course, the trip is more about development off-the-field with some valuable lessons about World War I being taught to the fledgling footballers.

"There are many bonuses about going on tours with young players," explained Harris. "Going abroad, you can sometimes learn more about a player on and off the pitch during a four or five-day tour than six months of coaching. Also, it's a bonus and fantastic opportunity to be playing European football against the different styles.

"But it's more about away from the pitch and the added twist to this tournament was it's all about the First World War and the cultural side of things. Three of our players laid wreathes at the Menin Gate as part of the ceremony. We gave all the players homework before we flew out to allow them to find out more about the War and any United players who fought in it.

"On the Saturday at a function with over 200 people attending, our captain stood up to give a speech about the War and what it meant to him and our club to be honouring

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