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Players from the Scottish FA Women's National Academy at Stirling University enjoyed a warm-weather training camp in Cyprus thanks to the Leonardo da Vinci Fund.
The group of 13 players traveled to the island for two weeks of individual testing, technique development, fitness, and strength and endurance training. The group also trained with, and played against, Cyprus Women's Premier League side Apollo.
Before leaving Scotland, the players learned about the history, geography and culture of Cyprus as well as basic language skills. On the island they had time between training sessions for cultural trips to the Amathous Aphrodite Cultural Route, Carob Museum and Pafos Religious Route.
National Academy high performance coach Pauline Hamill said: "Our main aim was to get the players away for two weeks of intense training in a warm climate, to really prepare them for the start of the season.
"The opportunity to play a couple of games against Apollo was ideal, because you can train as much as you want, but match sharpness only comes with game time.
"A number of the Academy players are part of the women's A and under-19 squads, so this kind of intense pre-season camp will prepare them for the international season as well as the start of the club season in March.
"We've had some great feedback from the players. They all feel they benefitted from the training sessions and they enjoyed the fact that, although there was a lot of hard work, the environment was relaxed, the weather was great, and they had some new experiences.
"They enjoyed meeting up with the Apollo players and absolutely loved the cultural trips. They were training twice a day almost every day and the three trips gave them a chance to do something completely different, and something that they maybe wouldn't think of doing."
The Scottish FA's women's academy structure provides players with the opportunity to combine football with their studies and creates a pathway into the national teams.
Funding from Leonardo da Vinci allows young players to develop their skills and cultural knowledge by taking part in placements around Europe. The fund is part of the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme. For more information, visit www.leonardo.org.uk.
(Report and photo courtesy of the Scottish FA)
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