What a weekend to remember! On Friday 25 March, 66 boys from Years 5 and 6 and 10 members of staff set off on a coach bound for Paris. The excitement was palpable as a jam-packed weekend of activities lay ahead; even the ferry crossing was an occasion in itself as blue skies and sunshine made it really feel like the start of a holiday. On arrival at the hotel, the boys had a fishy Friday in true Surbiton style before heading to AS Meudon Football for some free time and a chance to stretch their legs on a fantastic pitch.
Saturday morning was soon upon us and the boys fuelled up with some traditional French foods, including pastries, cheese and meats. Our first stop was the Stade de France in the Saint Denis area of Paris. The boys were chaperoned around the stadium in two groups with access-all-area passes to experience the stadium in all its glory. They saw players’ dressing rooms, had pitch-side access and visited the hospitality areas. It was superb to get so close to the action. A highlight was all the boys coming through the tunnel with the sound of 80,000 fans blaring out of the speakers. Our next stop of the day was the eagerly-anticipated Paris Saint Germain, where the boys enjoyed selecting some souvenirs. Our lovely English-speaking tour guide then took us on a trip around the heart of the city. The boys learned historical facts and key information about the beautiful city of Paris. We drove past famous landmarks, including the Champs-Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, stopping off for photos at the Eiffel Tower. Having been on our feet for a long time, we went back to the hotel for a quick dinner and re-charge before heading to the Stade Jean-Bouin for a rugby match between Stade Francais and Bordeaux Begles. We had fantastic seats for this floodlit match and were in the thick of the action. The standard of rugby was inspiring and the boys learned so much from seeing these professional giants in action.
On Sunday, we headed to Racing 92 for a training session with their coaches. The training included a mixture of contact, handling and positional game-based activities. The facilities were outstanding and to experience coaching from the highest calibre was fantastic. It was the turn of football next as we headed to three separate locations for fixtures; FC Versailles, Athletic Boulogne (the home of Newcastle star, Allan Saint-Maximin) and FC Meudon. The boys had a brilliant time and the celebrations when we scored will stay with the staff for a long time. We were looked after so well by our hosts and would welcome them to the UK in a heartbeat if the opportunity ever arose. Later that afternoon, we went to Paris FC for a professional coaching session with six staff at the highly successful club. The group participated in a round-robin style series of activities, including shooting, fitness work, small-sided games and various individual challenges. The boys’ competitive edge was flowing as we rounded off the day with some bowling; a brilliant way to finish the day.
Our final morning arrived and, after departing the hotel, we went back to Racing 92 for one final coaching session and tour of the complex. The boys were taken round the training ground and were lucky enough to meet and have a question and answer session with the academy players; a fantastic experience. One of the players had recently become professional and passed on some words of wisdom to the group.
It was a phenomenal weekend and the boys have memories that will last a lifetime!