At the end of last month, 12 members of Slough Football Club’s Under 16 team the Slough Town Juniors (also known as the Rebels) visited Austria to compete against two local teams, making their international debut in the process.

Hotel Birgkarhaus, COINS Foundation’s social enterprise hotel were key sponsors of this tour, playing a vital role in instigating the event also playing host to the team during their stay. Located near to Salzburg, nestled at the foot of Hochkonig, the second largest ski area in the Alps, Hotel Birgkarhaus is the perfect destination for both a summer and winter break. The intimate size enables an emphasis on quality, which is evident throughout all aspects of the hotel. The delicious menu, contemporary style rooms and spa and wellness suite is the perfect reward after a day exploring the mountains. For those larger groups, you can even hire out the hotel, making it the perfect venue for corporate retreats. However, the main appeal of the hotel is not in its spectacular views or quality service but in their sense of responsibility, not only to their customers but also to the wider community. Operating as a social enterprise 90% of their profits support disability skiing, working in conjunction with Snow Therapy, who offer coaching both in Austria supporting families on their skiing holidays as well as in the UK. The remaining 10% goes to their local mountain rescue charity, so you know that when you stay at Birgkarhaus not only will you enjoy a fantastic break, but you know that others will benefit too.

Thank you from Hotel Birgkarhaus, (Muhlbach am Hochkonig), sponsors of the football event in Austria. An amazing success, we will repeat the event for sure and also offer the experience to many more teams.

Emma Franklin – Director of Hotel Birgkarhaus

Having arrived in Austria on Monday 23rd looking smart in their new sponsored tracksuit bottoms, the following day brought their first match against local team, Altenmarkt before facing Muhlbach am Pinzgau later in the week. Strong performances from the Slough Rebels resulted in convincing wins in both matches, despite facing talented sportsmen and some great playing from both teams.

It was good to experience how other European countries style of football differentiates from ours.

Joshua Smith – Player at Slough Town Juniors
Slough Town Juniors with Austrian Team - Altenmarkt

Austria is a beautiful Country. The hotel was above and beyond my expectations and friendly staff were very accommodating to our group of fussy young boys. This trip took our boys away from a noisy, busy lifestyle and into a quiet laid-back retreat. The hotel arranged the football equipment, t-shirts, football coaches and transport and we are so grateful for their support. Would recommend this hotel 100%.

Kelly Turner - Secretary of Slough Town Juniors F.C

Between matches, the young players from Slough were put through a rigorous training session with Austrian trainer Andreas Scherer and Alex from Radstadt. A fantastic opportunity to learn new styles and skills, the boys all appreciated the quality of the Austrian training grounds and pitches as well as the expertise shown through the coaching.

We were invited on tour to Austria and although I have stayed at the hotel before, I still think the food, Jacuzzi and staff are amazing. We also were allowed to stay in the apartments, which was fantastic. We beat both teams but both matches were friendly and their grounds were amazing. My highlight was training with Andreas and Alex as they thought of games which helped to improve fast direction changes and other skills. Altogether a brilliant trip!

Tom McFarlane – Captain of Slough Town Juniors U16 Team
The team outside Hotel Birgkarhaus

The hotel was brilliant; the food was delicious and the staff really looked after us. The opponents didn't speak any English, which was a bit tricky to communicate but the 2 coaches Andreas and Alex that came to give us a training session, planned out a good lot of tasks for us. We even had a chance to explore, climbing up the mountains and going on the ski left to Dienten. I’d definitely like to do this again!

Alfie Turner – Player at Slough Town Juniors

The trip was organised together with COINS Foundation, the not for profit organization of the COINS Group. We use enterprise to address issues of social justice and our aim is to use the power of business to create a better and more sustainable future. It is our job to change perceptions so that we can influence the next generation to think differently about the world around them. Introducing these individuals to social enterprises such as Hotel Birgkarhaus demonstrates how companies can use the success of business to make a difference to the world around them. As consumers, we have the power to shape companies’ behavior by supporting businesses with strong values and a sense of responsibility.

Slough Town Juniors & their second opponents - Muhlbach am Pinzgau

When the idea of an U16 tour to Austria was first discussed, I had several expectations and objectives that I wanted from the tour. Although it was obviously a football tour the objectives were not simply to win games. They were more to do with bonding a group of 15 year olds, who only meet for a couple of hours a week into a team. I also wanted the boys to embrace a different style of football. For these things to work the boys needed to be happy and relaxed in their surroundings and Austria and Hotel Birgkarhaus exceeded all expectations for both the boys and the adults. The scenery and settings for the training and football grounds were simply breath-taking and inspiring. The staff at the hotel were magnificent and couldn't do enough for us and the food was first class. The boys had the unique opportunity to be coached by two well respected Austrian coaches and took on their training objectives. The boys responded to their settings by listening and training well, and this resulted in two superb performances and results against well set up Austrian opposition. They encompassed their change of style and we saw the results on the pitch. Off the football pitch the boys were simply blown away by the mountain scenery and loved the excursions to the mountains - they even took themselves off for a mountain stroll one evening after dinner.

I can't thank Tundi, Sophie, Rob and Emma for all the work that they put in to our stay. The tour surpassed my expectations on every level.

Dave King – Manager at Slough Town Juniors

Huge congratulations to the players and a thank you to all involved in making the week such a success – we look forward to introducing similar events in the future.

Very well organised, very good food, very relaxing, great team bonding, lovely room and incredible fun. I would love to do something similar in the future.

Ted Salt - Player at Slough Town Juniors
English and Austrian coaches enjoying Hotel Birgkarhuaus