Darin Killpartrick has spoken of his pride at leading the England Colleges squad into action in an international tournament.
It’s the third year in a row the Rocks coach and head of the Chichester College football academy has managed the side in the four-nation Caput Mundi Tournament in Rome.
The England Colleges team is made up of the best college-based players from across the country.
This year two Sussex-based players – Worthing College students Fintan Walsh and Matt Boiling, currently playing for Whitehawk and Loxwood resepctively – were involved.
Killpartrick was delighted with how the whole squad played and conducted themselves.
The squad of 20 were away for a week and kicked off by facing the Romanian national under-18 team, securing an impressive 0-0 draw before losing in a penalty shootout.
Next up was a tough test against the Italian development squad, which ended 4-0 to the hosts and was watched by more than 30,000 online.
England’s team ended on a high note with a 5-1 win over the Welsh Colleges team – a game that was closer than the score suggests.
The Romanians went on to win the competition.
Killpartrick said: “It was a fabulous trip and the players and I all took so much from it.
“The lads showed really good progression over the week and will only have benefitted from playing against players of that calibre from different countries and backgrounds.”
It’s Killpartrick’s third season as manager of the England Colleges team and it’s a role that gives him great pride.
He is grateful to the college and the Rocks, each of whom have no issues with him taking time off to fulfil the role.
It means he can pick up methods and ideas on the international stage and put them into practice back here in West Sussex, both at the college and at Nyewood Lane.
The 2017-18 programme for the England squad has also involved a win over an Australian national student side at Sheffield and training days at the FA’s national football centre at St George’s Park.
Still to come is a game – or possibly two – against the Welsh in April, the details of which have yet to be confirmed.
Killpartrick said: “There are some very good players in our set-up and it’s nice for me to be able to help them develop.”
Walsh, who had a spell on the books at Bognor, was made captain for the Italy game.
For Killpartrick, it was back to basics after he returned as he soon found his way back to the training pitch at Nyewood Lane.
First was a midweek session which took place in temperatures around -6C.
Then Saturday brought a postponement of the Rocks’ home National League South game with St Albans – but that did not mean a day off for the club’s players and coaching staff, who instead used the opportunity to squeeze in an extra training session.