Local teens to take their game overseas | PostIndependent.com

Local teens to take their game overseas

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Contributed photoFrom left, Sierra Martin, Paige Libby and Natasha Jordan take a break from washing a recreational vehicle during a Saturday fundraiser held to collect money for their trip to Denmark and Sweden for the National Soccer Academy's EuroTour.
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Sierra Martin has listened to EuroTour tales from her older sister, Mariah, and is eager to create her own memories playing soccer overseas.

In just a few days, she’ll hop on a plane and do just that.

Martin and five other Roaring Fork Valley youngsters are bound for Europe, where they’ll experience three weeks of soccer and culture via the National Soccer Academy’s EuroTour.

Martin hopes her experience rivals that of her older sister.

“She told us a lot of stories,” said Sierra, a 14-year-old Glenwood Springs High School sophomore-to-be. “It sounded like she had a really good time. When she left, she was bawling in the airport. She made a lot of good friends.”

The NSA is an organization that stages a series of camps and tournament-centered tours to Scandinavia, South America and within the United States. Its EuroTour features a collection of young soccer talent from throughout the country.

“This year, we have kids from Hawaii and California,” said Brad Jordan, the NSA’s Colorado director and the Glenwood Springs Soccer Club’s director of coaching. “In the past, we’ve had kids from Oklahoma, New York, Florida, the Las Vegas area, Reno, southern California, northern California, Oregon. Different years, it’s different people. We actually have two from Champaign, Illinois, going this year.”

The local contingent will meet up with the rest of the NSA group in Seattle and then fly to Copenhagen, Denmark. From there, players take a bus trip up the western coast of Sweden to Gothenburg, where NSA players train and live alongside Danish and Swedish athletes for about a week.

Then comes tournament play.

“From there, we go to Denmark to play in the Dana Cup No. 1,” Jordan said. “When we’re done with that, we come back over to Gothenburg and play in the Gothia Cup.”

The NSA’s entries into the prestigious tournaments feature both its own players and a handful of the organization’s young Danish and Swedish training partners. It’s the blending of cultures that makes the EuroTour about much more than soccer.

“We try to create a fun environment for the kids, first and foremost,” Jordan said. “The tour is set up because we know soccer, but that’s a very small part of it. It’s more to get these kids the culture.”

That’s not to say there isn’t some high-caliber soccer awaiting tour participants. The soccer is why Paige Libby, an incoming GSHS sophomore, signed up.

“I think it’s just the experience and being able to play soccer over there,” she said. “That’s what I’m most looking forward to. Traveling there is awesome, too, but I think the advantages of playing soccer there will be amazing.”

Natasha Jordan, who will be a freshman at GSHS in the fall, has experienced the soccer firsthand. She’s set to make her fourth EuroTour trip.

“It’s way more competitive and there’s more contact than here in the U.S.,” she said.

Beyond the soccer, Jordan’s made all sorts of friends during previous EuroTour journeys.

“It’s been a ton of fun and you’re just always meeting new people and learning more about soccer,” she said. “I keep in touch with a lot of the people from the last year I went, which was 2009.”

And she’s become a better soccer player through her travels to a soccer-crazed corner of the globe. That’s something Martin looks forward to as she heads overseas.

“Soccer is a whole lot more popular over there,” she said. “I’m really excited to be surrounded by people where it’s a big part of their life, because it’s definitely like that for me. It’s a huge part of my life.”

And it’s soccer that’ll take Martin and those five other Roaring Fork Valley youngsters on a trip of a lifetime.

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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