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Budding soccer players primed for trip across the pond


Forty-two local soccer players will be riding the edge of their seats until they board the plane that takes them across the pond on a first class soccer adventure Friday evening. The seven-day soccer tour of England is something they have been fundraising for all summer long and they are

Chris Hodges, right, along with Phil Ezekiel, left, give some last-minute travel instructions to soccer players heading to England Friday. Star Photo by Chris Noseworthy

Forty-two local soccer players will be riding the edge of their seats until they board the plane that takes them across the pond on a first class soccer adventure Friday evening.

The seven-day soccer tour of England is something they have been fundraising for all summer long and they are

When the idea for the trip first emerged last year, Haley Kawaja said it took her all of two seconds to decide that she wanted in. Kawaja will be one of 21 girls making the journey with an all girls team. She said she is looking forward to seeing some new sights and learning some new aspects of the games.

The whole thing started as a trip for 21 of the Subway Under-14s boys squad, but quickly expanded as word got out. The week long trip will expose kids to a higher level of soccer and a different atmosphere.

"It is going to give them a bigger knowledge of the passion that there is in Europe for it," Chris Hodges, WRSA technical director, set the trip up on the English side under the guidance of Ian Marshall Soccer Tours.

He said just seeing the attitudes of people and how soccer rules their lives will be a lesson for these kids.

"They will see soccer in a completely different way (after this trip)," he said. "It will be an eye opener for them. The whole aspect of professionalism in the approach and the facilities will be a real experience for them."

The itinerary for the trip is brimming with activity. After a Saturday morning arrival in Leicester, the young footballers will take in a Football League Championship match between Leicester City and the Queens Park Rangers.

They will also take in a Barclay's Premier League - the most elite of the British football leagues - match between Newcastle United and Derby County.

There will also be train most mornings with a variety of football coaches and see some game action as well in the afternoons. Several stadium and facility tours are planned including the opportunity for the local kids to watch a Leicester City Football Club practice.

It won't be all work and no play however. One day will be devoted to a trip to the Alton Towers amusement park and a sightseeing tour of the capital city of London prior to coming back.

One of the highlights will be a match between the Under-14s and a local school team.

Brandon Wall was another player for whom it "took not very long" to make up his mind that the English experience was what he wanted.

Still he thinks the local kids are in for a tough time when they play the British kids.

"It is going to be a lot harder," he said. "The players are going to be a lot better."

Phil Ezekiel has been with the process since the beginning. For him, it has been a labour of love.

"It is an awesome feeling," he said. "I have spent a long time with this group. It's been 10 years now. To finally be going to England that is pretty exciting."

cnoseworthy@thewesternstar.com

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