March 1, 2024

Over the February half term, Adam Demetri and Evagoras Mandrides’ Omonia Youth FC Under 18 Silver team embarked on a football tour to Cyprus…and it was a resounding success.
The Under 18 Silver embarked on a memorable journey to celebrate their final year as youth football team and importantly stepping away from the usual constraints of football to focus on a singular, invaluable objective: forging memories and stories destined to be cherished for years.
Team coach Adam Demetri initiated this football odyssey 11 years ago with a belief that the essence of the game was only half about football; the other about cultivating friendships and instilling confidence in the boys both on and off the pitch.
For Adam, true victory was never about the score on the field but about ensuring these young men remained friends long after their football days; equating enduring, long lasting friendships to winning every trophy available. The tour was a poignant reminder that these moments were not just about closing a chapter but about celebrating their journey together.
To ensure the trip was unforgettable, flexibility was paramount. A 6-bedroom villa was secured,  complete with a games room and swimming pool, and the coaching staff hired self-drive minibuses for unrestricted movement. The villa and transportation exceeded expectations, offering the squad a seamless blend of schedule and spontaneity.
Matched were lined up against AEK Larnaca, Anorthosis, and Omonia Nicosia. Adam and Evagoras took on roles far beyond coaching, becoming cooks, cleaners, mentors, and more, embodying the spirit of versatility and care.
Facing AEK Larnaca, the boys were eager yet anxious, driven by a desire to showcase their team spirit and footballing philosophy. Adam shared their nerves, hoping above all that they would relish the experience and play as a unified team. The match ended with Adam beaming with pride at their heartfelt performance, marking a successful start to our games.
The excitement of the first match fuelled an energy that was impossible to dim, keeping the boys awake until 5am. Engrossed in a whirlwind of playful pranks, bursts of laughter, and endless storytelling, the night turned into a memorable bonding experience that only strengthened their camaraderie. Nestled in their private villa, the boys had the freedom and space to truly be themselves, away from the restrictive confines of a hotel setting. It was in these unguarded moments, amid jokes and shared laughter, that the true essence of team spirit was celebrated. Such a night of bonding and friendship highlighted not just the value of the chosen accommodation but also the importance of allowing these young athletes the space to create lasting memories together.
Anorthosis Famagusta welcomed the Under 18 Silver warmly, setting the stage for a match where the boys, buoyed by their previous game, played with a heightened sense of competition. Yet, a halftime reminder from Adam about the true purpose of our journey shifted the focus, leading to an even more commendable second-half performance.
The match against Omonoia Nicosia was more than just a game; it was a symbolic homecoming that touched the hearts of everyone involved. Given our London team’s foundational ties with Omonoia Nicosia, stepping onto their pitch felt like returning to a place of shared heritage and mutual respect. The game itself was a closely fought battle, a testament to the skill, dedication, and sportsmanship of both teams. Every pass and play was charged with emotion, each moment on the field a reflection of the deep bonds forged between these two clubs over the years.
The respect extended far beyond the final whistle. The post-match ceremonies were a profound expression of the connection between the teams, highlighted by the exchange of gifts. Receiving a bag of official Omonoia merchandise was a symbol of kinship and a tangible link to Cypriot friends. Similarly, our gesture of gifting the Omonia Youth FC scarf to the local team was the Under 18 Silver’s way of cementing this newfound bond. These exchanges went beyond mere formalities; they were heartfelt tokens of a shared journey and mutual admiration, capturing the essence of what this trip was all about.
A special highlight and immense gratitude to Androulla from Bourne Hill Car Wash for her extraordinary generosity. Her sponsorship was not just a donation but a testament to the community spirit and support that makes dreams like ours possible. Androulla’s contribution, given with wholehearted enthusiasm, was pivotal in bringing this unforgettable journey to life. The Under 18 Silver team would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to Panayiotis Gionnou of AEK Larnaca for his invaluable assistance in organising the games, making the tour a smooth and memorable experience. Acknowledgements must also go to Evagoras, whose partnership with Adam was crucial in turning this dream into reality.
The journey was enriched by the warm welcomes and supportive spirits of all the local teams, their players, coaches, assistants, and crew, who played a vital role in crafting the memories the players, the coaches, parents ad carers now hold dear.
The trip transcended the realm of football, weaving a tapestry of laughter, adventures, and unforgettable memories. While the joy and bonds formed are the real trophies of this journey, for those inclined towards the competitive aspect, our record was commendable: we played three games, winning two and losing one. Yet, this statistic barely scratches the surface of the team’s true achievements; success lay not in the numbers but in the journey itself. When Adam and Evagoras retired for the evening, the sound of laughter was the real scorecard, marking a victory in the champions league of life, a triumph that no one can take away from them.