CORMACK Kyle Payne enjoyed every minute of his first taste of international soccer with Team Canada in Spain earlier this year, but he's really excited about participating in a training camp in St. John's.
Payne, a 17-year-old Level 2 student at Elwood High in Deer Lake who was born with mild cerebral palsy, helped Team Canada claim the gold medal at the 7th International Trophy of 7-A-Side Football Tournament held earlier this summer in Barcelona.
He was added to the roster for the Barcelona journey after a team member broke his collarbone and couldn't make the trip.
No doubt, Payne got all caught up in the excitement of being a member of Team Canada for the first time and had a good time seeing all the sights and meeting new people.
He had a great time, but he admits that having a training camp close to home is something he embraces because it's not too far away from family and friends.
He also likes the fact that his dad Troy Stuckless of Cormack might be able to go watch him now that it's held in his home province.
"It's a big load off my shoulders that's for sure," Payne said earlier this week from his home in Cormack.
He also feels like no matter where he plays, he has a sense of family when he is with this group.
"You do miss home, but when you are out there the soccer team is your family," he said. "So, to have a family reunion perse is good. It's going to be good to see all the guys again."
Payne was the only player on the team from eastern Canada with the nucleus being from out west so he was worried about how he would fit into the group.
It turned out he had nothing to worry about and he found himself surrounded by a very supportive group which he appreciated very much.
"They took me in with open arms and they encouraged me. It's a very hopeful environment," he said.
Now, he has to find a way to impress head coach Drew Ferguson at the team's last camp for the year.
Ferguson was pleased with the play of Payne in Barcelona with his limited minutes, but told the prospect that he must work on his game to improve his stock.
No big deal for Payne. He has been working at a steady pace to improve his endurance and improve his ball control, two things pointed out to him by coach Ferguson after the trip to Barcelona.
He has been working on his endurance by putting some miles on his sneakers, riding his bike to work and spending countless hours on the treadmill at the family home.
"You need to be able to keep up with the other players, especially being a defender," he said.
As for being more comfortable with the ball, he admits he was a bit overwhelmed with the quickness of the game in Spain where it was all new to him, but he's feeling a lot better now that he's punched more time doing drills and juggling the ball.
He spends a lot of time kicking around the ball with his dad and has also managed to play a few pick-up games in Corner Brook over the summer.