Soccer players plan Eurotour

Phil Sandoval
Post Independent Staff
Post Independent Photo/Kelley Cox

Soccer evokes a lot of passion. And it’s love for the game that has stoked 16 area teenage players to pony up almost $5,000 each to play in Europe this summer.

“One of the things that’s very important to us is (the kids’) passion for the game and their desire to learn the game further than what we can develop them as local club players,” Glenwood Springs Soccer Club coach Brad Jordan said of the three-week Eurotour 2005 the team takes in July.

“A lot of them have the ultimate goal of going on and playing in college,” Jordan said. “This is a great opportunity for the kids to play at a higher level, see where the rest of the world is at (in soccer), and to take their play to a different level.”

It’s an opportunity Taylor Parsons, an eighth-grader at Glenwood Springs Middle School, has waited four years to take.

“About four years ago, we were supposed to go to Europe,” he said. “Then 9/11 happened, and we didn’t get to go. I’ve been practicing hard and trying to get better to go this year, finally.”

The trip, Jordan said, differs from other youth soccer team tournaments.

The National Soccer Association-sanctioned Eurotour 2005 focuses on development. Player selection is not based on the ability to afford the trip. The final decision is passion-oriented.

“If a kid comes to me and says: ‘I want to go to Europe and play soccer,’ I’m going to ask them, who have you played for? Where have you played? Or do you want to go because you enjoy the game and have the passion to learn at the level we teach?” Jordan said.

Before making the jump over the big pond, Jordan’s group meets up with 34 selected players from Northern California for four days of intensive training at the University of California, Davis, before going to tournaments in Denmark and Sweden.

Those tournaments ” The Dana and Gothia Cup ” feature more than 1,600 select 11-19 boys and girls club teams globally.

Wins are a bonus. What the NSA stresses is for players to understand how to play the game.

“What we’ll do is take (the kids) over, get them set up where they need to be and then we’ll have games,” Jordan said. “In between games or on off-days, we’ll have training sessions with a certain player or work with a group of them because they don’t completely understand.”

Jordan and Glenwood Springs Soccer Club assistant director Andre Du Bois are among a staff of seven to eight NSA-certified coaches who will be making the trip.

“Each of us coaches will have the opportunity to work with different teams throughout the course of a little over two weeks and two tournaments.”

The tour is an extension of the NSA’s philosophy of coaching.

“The NSA simplifies the game so the kids have a better way of understanding,” Jordan said. “Fun is always the first and foremost process we go through. We coach when we do training sessions. When the game begins, the game is for the kids ” not the coach. That’s where they are forced to make decisions.”

To afford the trip, Jordan said players write explanation letters to family members and conduct car washes and garage sales ” or in one case, sell personalized water bottles and tubes of lip balm.

Along with playing, it also gives the team a chance to meet kids from other countries and cultures.

“That’s the thing that excites me the most is getting to meet other people,” said Silt resident Emily Johnson, 13. “That will be so much fun, especially at the tournaments.”

But Johnson’s thoughts about the European trip don’t stray much from soccer.

“I just need to step it up and practice every day and just play soccer, soccer, soccer. That’s got to be my life this summer,” the Riverside eighth-grader said.

“I consider myself athletic, but soccer’s the one sport that I’m good at. I think I’ll stick with soccer.”

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