A Langley United Soccer Association U12 girls team heading to Bolton

UK trip offers Langley United girls crash course in soccer

Langley United’s annual Bolton Wanderers exchange, set for March 2016, has a new wrinkle.

For a group of Langley United Youth Soccer Association U12 girls, an expedition to Bolton, England during their spring break promises to be a football (as it’s known outside of North America) adventure of a lifetime.

This will also be a historic occasion for the association when 15 girls between the ages of 10 and 12 and their parents and chaperones, along with Langley United technical director Mark Parker and coach Brittany Flanagan, jet to the UK.

In 2010, ’12, ’13, and ’14, LUYSA has sent boys to Bolton.

This year marks the first time the association has had girls going on the trip.

Flanagan said it’s an honour to be accompanying the girls in Bolton, which is in the Greater Manchester region.

“It’s exciting,” Flanagan said. “It’s a privilege to be able to do this. It will be unique to be so close to a group of girls and walk with them as they experience this. This will be something they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

Parker has been part of the past four tours (LUYSA didn’t send a team to England in 2011) and said because the association’s girls program is growing at such an exponential rate, “the demand is there” to send girls to Bolton this time around.

“We’ll give the girls the same opportunities that we gave the boys,” Parker said.

England is steeped in soccer culture, much like hockey is woven into the fabric of Canada.

That’s what makes the experience so special, Parker said: “They get put into 24/7 English soccer, they’re in the hotel which is attached to the stadium, so they can walk down to the fields there… it’s a huge experience for them.”

Parker said when it comes to soccer, the culture gap between Canada and England is “huge.”

“It’s immense – from players, parents, coaches – it’s a complete religion,” he said.

The only prerequisite for the girls going to Bolton was an interest in taking part.

“They showed interest, their parents showed interest, and we gave them the options of a number of different tours, and this one is highly focused on development,” Parker said.

The girls will play just a pair of games during their 10-day visit.

The rest of their time will be filled with training sessions twice a day, every day, with the exception of a “football culture day,” when they’ll be visiting Old Trafford (Machester United’s stadium) Anfield (Liverpool’s home turf), and museums, and will be able to have an up-close look at the premiership trophy.

The payoff for the girls is to “see what it really takes to be a footballer, in terms of commitment and dedication,” Parker said.

On top of the training, the Bolton Wanderers club will put the Langley girls through nutrition and psychological programs.

The Bolton Wanderers professional club plays in the Championship League, one level below Premiership, and the girls will have an opportunity to see the Wanderers in action.

“Bolton is playing at home when we get there so chances are, they will definitely get to meet the players,” Parker said.

The girls involved play at different levels and include Anna Klaver-Valdez, Camryn Lyon, Celeste Collie, Crystal Collie, Danielle Jack, Emily Berry, Kaeli Lamothe, Kate Vendramin, Kaylyn Williams, Maddison Baldwin, Marissa Leeds, Megan Traversy, Paige  Miller, Payton Montana, and Shanna Quennell.

What the players are saying:

Kaylyn Williams, 11: “It is something really cool. It is going to be a lot of training, but I know I’m going to get something out of it, so I’m looking forward to doing it.”

What the players are saying:

Kaylyn Williams, 11: “It is something really cool. It is going to be a lot of training, but I know I’m going to get something out of it, so I’m looking forward to doing it.”

Danielle Jack, 11: “I’m looking forward to playing soccer with my team, and getting to practice in England.”

Maddison Baldwin, 11: “I want to become a better soccer player and make more friends in the league and everything. There will be a lot of training but it’s going to be fun. Soccer’s fun.”

Camryn Lyon, 11, from Surrey United: “They were talking about it when I was with Langley [United], and I never really got the chance. I asked if I could do it and they said, ‘Yes.’”

Marissa Leeds, 10: “I’m really excited. I wanted to take part in this because I wanted to be a better soccer player, and it’ll be really, really fun.”

About seeing a pro game in England, Marissa said, “I’ve been to a lot of Whitecaps games, but this will be a lot different. They take soccer very, very seriously.”

Fundraising continues

The team continues to raise funds for the trip, including bottle drives until March 1, with a goal of raising $60,000 which will help cover the costs of airfare, accommodation, ground transportation, food, and other incidentals.

The team will be hosting a tree chipping, bottle drive, and used clothing donation on Jan. 3, 2016 at the George Preston Recreation Centre.

As well, on Feb 13, there will be a Murrayville Pub Night, with tickets on sale for $25. The event includes a silent auction and door prizes, and a roast beef dinner provided.

Anyone interested in attending the pub night can email Rachel at luysa2004girls@hotmail.com.

As well, a gofundme page is set up as part of the fundraising efforts. Click here to link to directly to the page.

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