The Beautiful Game has no direct translation into colloquial Spanish, but that won’t stop Langley players from communicating about soccer when they travel to Madrid.
The Under-12 boys are headed to Spain in March 2017 and will receive some specialty training.
“They will be housed in the Spanish national training centre, which is the home of the Spanish national teams,” said Mark Parker, the Langley United Soccer Association technical director. “The lads will be coached by academy coaches from Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and play games against their academy teams.”
Travelling across the Atlantic Ocean will be 13 kids, 11 parents, and Parker. They leave March 8 and return March 17. But before then, they’ve got some work to do on and off the pitch.
The local boys are training with LUSA technical lead Chelsey Hannesson and Parker as seperate teams.
“As we approach December we will be getting them together as a group and doing some additional training,” Parker said.
LUSA has had the opportunity to send local players to Bolton, England five times since 2010.
“This would be our fifth international trip in six years. The benefits are huge in terms of understanding the true soccer culture,” Parker explained. “The boys will be training two times a day and on game days they will be doing a single training session in the morning of the game. We have seen boys kick on to many different programs, the metro program and the BCSPL programs are beneficiaries from the international program. Spain will give us the extra dimension of residing at the national training centre in Madrid, working with the Real Madrid and Atlectico Madrid coaches.”
These programs do not come cheap.
“The funding is direct contribution from the parents and a whole lot of fundraising is going on at this time,” he added.
The association has set up a crowdsourcing site (www.gofundme.com/LUSAMadrid2017).
The players are expected to learn, and not just on the field.
“Besides the soccer training and learning experiences, the players will learn to travel as a team,” he said. “[There are team responsibilities] like looking out for each other, making sure their teammates are eating and hydrating appropriately. They will be sharing rooms – this in itself will be a new learning opportunity. We will get to see two La Liga games, Real Madrid vs Real Betis and Atletico Madrid vs Seville.”
The trip is possible thanks to Parker’s connections in the soccer world.
“I have been involved with the Canadian Soccer Association’s national teams program for many years,” he explained. “Over these years I have built up many connections around the world, Spain just being one of them.”