RANGERS under-15s earned a major win in Europe at the weekend as they lifted the RKMSV tournament in The Netherlands.
The Light Blues were excellent throughout the competition, before defeating Sparta Rotterdam and then one of Holland’s top Academy sides AZ Alkmaar in the final.
The team were led by former Gers players Kevin Thomson and Stephen Wright, and Wright was thrilled with the manner of his side’s performance.
Speaking on this week’s Official Rangers Podcast, he explained: “On the balance of the tournament, we got better as it went on. Historically, Dutch players will let you play, and that is exactly what happened over here.
“Ironically, Honved from Budapest beat us 1-0, and they were direct, physical and in our faces, which was a different experience for the players, but in the main, we tried to play the way we played.
“But as you get closer to the semi-final and final, you try and manage the games a bit so you can get over that line.
“There weren’t many players you would swap our players for and, in general, we were absolutely delighted with the way our players played.
“I think we can compete technically with a lot of these teams in Europe, and we have shown that over the years at a lot of different age groups.
“Now, with the game model we are doing, the players know how to tactically handle these games. You can never take away the Scottish style and the Scottish hunger to win games and challenges.”
A number of players who travelled attend the Rangers performance school at Boclair Academy, where they combine both their academic study with daily football sessions with coaches from the Hummel Training Centre.
Wright believes that setup is beginning to bear fruit, and continued: “We have a lot of good, technical players in the Academy, and we had a number of the players with us on the trip, the 2004 group, who have been with us now for a couple of years, and they are getting football practice every day and are getting technical and tactical information every day, as well as stuff on their lifestyle, their diet and their nutrition.
“When they are working in that school programme, it is not until you go away to these tournaments that you are having to come up against these different styles and different cultures, you’re eating different food and you’re preparing differently in terms of sleep.
“So the school programme has massively benefited them as we do look to get as much information to them as possible, albeit it is now every day rather than just two or three nights a week – they have so much more contact time.”
Gers also included four players from Northern Ireland, as they continue to expand their scouting operations there.
On their performance, Wright added: “Phil Cowen works so hard over there, and the players he has brought over through the years has been fantastic. We have four players over with us just now and they have been absolutely brilliant and have fitted in really well.
“Because they are over so often – in holiday periods and they come over for games – they quickly adapt to what the Rangers style is and how we play.
“There are a lot of clubs after some of the boys in Northern Ireland, so hopefully these experiences, coming over with Rangers, we can get these boys into our club and it is a benefit to them in the future.”