US Youth Soccer Region I ODP Boys recently had the amazing chance to travel to different locations within Europe to compete against some top level talent in different countries. Below are some pictures and quotes from the teams that help us understand the benefits of international trips.
2001 Boys Travel to Scotland
”Our 2000 Region 1 players and coaches were so fortunate to experience the Scottish culture and the exquisitely beautiful cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Stirling. On the field we competed against the top Scottish youth professional academy teams including the fabled Celtic and Rangers Academies. Players and coaches were forced out of their comfort zones competing against future full time professional players. The facilities and matches were top class and the highlights for the players and staff were competing against Celtic and Rangers and watching first hand professional matches with Celtic vs Kilmarnock at Celtic Park and Rangers hosting Partick Thistle at Ibrox!” -Todd West
2001 Boys Travel to Italy
"How do we continue to truly develop our Regional-select players and be true to our ODP acronym? You travel to very competitive tournaments that stretch your players and expose them to the best talent in the country, while also providing an international learning environment for the coaching staff in the shadow of the Italian Dolomite mountain range.
The 2001 Boys Region 1 team traveled and played in the provinces of Verona and Modena in Northern Italy and competed against teams from both Serie A and Serie B, Italy's 2 top leagues. The team was competitive, especially playing a full competitive year up, against the 2000 Academy teams of Carpi FC, Vincenza Calcio, SanMichelse Sassuolo Calcio, and the Swiss League 1 outfit F.C. Mendrisio. Getting out of your comfort zone and being paired against the best was a development experience our boys would not get in the U.S., and will never forget. Add in watching a live Serie A game--Sampdoria vs. U.S. Sassuolo Calcio--and being immersed in a culture famed for its Calcio, cuisine, and architecture and you see up close what the "D" in ODP truly means." -Craig Stone
1999 Boys Travel to Spain
"Mes que una aventura. Our Region 1 1999 boys group experienced the beautiful Costa Brava region, located in Northeast Spain just miles from Barcelona. We spent our days playing soccer in fields just minutes from the Mediterranean ocean and our evenings experiencing the sounds, culture and history of Catalonia. We were fortunate to tour Camp Nou (one of the world's most iconic stadiums), watch Barcelona vs Real Sociedad and fulfill my dream of seeing the little magician Messi get 2 goals and 1 assist. On the field, we played against teams from all over Europe including Spain, Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland. We travelled with an experienced group that included 9 guys who will be playing Division 1 soccer next Fall and managed to win the 2017 Copa Santa tournament on penalties in front of 2500 fans. This group will look back very fondly on their trip to Spain and will have memories for a lifetime. What a way to end their Region 1 careers!" -Bryan Harkin
2002 Boys Travel to Spain
"The 2002 Boys had also the privilege to visit Spain. Staying at Lloret de Mar in Giron we were able to be right on the beach of the Mediterranean sea. It was spectacular to see how those young gentlemen enjoyed and bonded in a landscape of rich political history and culture. The opportunity for them to play, train and compete, and at the same time experience the city of Barcelona was something that will stay with them for a lifetime.Playing in the MIC (Mediterranean International Cup) the boys faced the challenge to compete against teams from Spain, Israel, Japan, and Qatar.
As the tournament continued the boys progressed and learned how to compete on a different level, the team reached the finals in the Consolation Round, where the team lost vs Aspire Academy from Qatar in penalties. As emotional this loss was, the kids had the pleasure to watch Messi and Barcelona play vs Real Sociedad in the Camp Nou Stadium, as well as the rich culture of Barcelona with the important Architecture f.i of the Barri Gotic quarter in the centre of the old city, where many of this buildings date back to medieval times. Furthermore, to experience Antoni Gaudi and his most famous work, the church Sagrada Familia, was an impressive cultural statement for the kids.This was an amazing Soccer experience for the boys, sugarcoated with long lasting cultural influence." -Manfred Kapper
2003 Boys Travel to England
"The coaches are extremely proud of the transformation we saw over the course of 10 days. In that very short time, these boys grew from a collection of talented players to becoming a real team. They increasingly accepted responsibility as individuals and for each other on and off the field. By the end of the trip, every player on the team had a nickname. That was only possible because they had genuinely learned about each other. It took a big investment of energy and it’s something that the coaches called attention to at every opportunity.
The loss to Leeds in the Manchester Easter Cup final, though painful, was meaningful. It said a lot that many of the players fought back tears. We showed great desire to win and the boys will go back to that day thousands of times in an attempt to discover why they fell short. They will remember that Leeds were unified and connected, and found a way to hold us off to win on penalty kicks.
The players are now able to look at the game, and what it means to be a team, in a new way. Our Region 1 boys brought these lessons home and are there right now taking responsibility to help their teams become better teams.
These are the seeds that produce leaders." -Mike Kleinert