THERE were over 100 members from Banbridge Rangers FC in attendance at Ibrox on the May Day weekend when Glasgow Rangers FC picked up the League Trophy. Banbridge Rangers were formed eight years ago this month by a set of players who were linked by their support of Glasgow Rangers and have endeavoured to support the club through affiliation.
This year’s trip was more than just an excursion to see Glasgow Rangers but to cement a link between the two clubs and over the course of the three days in Glasgow the Youth Teams at Banbridge Rangers had the opportunity to spend a weekend in the life of a professional footballer. BRFC Youth teams at Under 14, Under 12, Under 10 and Under 8 age groups got the chance to test their skills against the cream of talent in Scotland, the Elite Rangers Academy Teams, and perform in front of full time coaches and scouts.
The games all took place at Murray Park, the multi million pound training complex at Rangers, over the first two days of the trip with Rangers Elite Teams putting on an impressive display of attitude, passing and movement. There were some very good performances from the young players from Banbridge with Luke Brown scoring a superb goal in the Under 12 match and Lee Chapman forced a goal for the Under 10s to cap off a year in which he was selected for the IFA Regions team.
The Under 14s played on the Saturday evening with Craig Robinson showing great ability in nets whilst the Under 8s had the chance to showcase their skills in an indoor 3G pitch at Murray Park the following morning.
The Banbridge Rangers youth teams were all given a tour of the impressive Murray Park facilities and got the chance to understand the complexities and importance of nutrition and conditioning that professional players undertake through talks and demonstrations from the experts. The staff at Glasgow Rangers couldn’t have been anymore facilitating and took all of the players, parents, coaches and staff on a tour of Ibrox Stadium including a stop off at the club’s Megastore where some of the Banbridge Rangers contingent got to meet former Rangers player Jorg Albertz who was in Glasgow ahead of a Legends game taking place against Manchester United.
The tour of Ibrox was completed with the Rangers staff laying on a superb banquet for all in attendance in the VIP Argyle Suite inside the stadium with impressive views of the pitch whilst dining. The three days also included other activities for the young members with ten pin bowling which was particularly competitive on the Sunday evening. On the Monday the entourage set off on their way back to Banbridge with the young footballers now knowing what is required to turn their passion into careers.
Glasgow Rangers FC are keen to set up a regular link with Banbridge Rangers FC who will continue to send teams across the water and give their young players every opportunity to follow their ambitions. It is a feather in the cap of the local club who are entirely volunteer based and are all about developing the stars of tomorrow. If your son or daughter would like to join Banbridge Rangers FC they can come along to one of their open training sessions on Monday or Thursday evenings at Cheney Park from 6-7pm.
Thanks to John Patterson and Mark Wilson for their flawless organisation and to all those who helped fundraise and sponsor the trip and to Mark Rice who was instrumental in the intitial approach stage with Glasgow Rangers FC.