Two young soccer stars are preparing to trade Enterprise for England to attend a prestigious soccer camp and learn the game from the professionals.
Tyler McDaniel and Robin Javier are players on Enterprise Select Soccer’s 12U team who recently attended a camp in Rome, Georgia to hone their skills and play with other soccer enthusiasts across the country. Though they didn’t know it at the time, McDaniel and Javier’s experience with the Rome camp opened up a very special door for them -- one that would lead to a different country.
“Coach Marco hosted an open event for all the kids on our team to go and train with two RCD Espanyol camps that are from Spain, two RCD coaches, and they had interest in me and they invited me to train in Rome, Georgia. It kind of went from there,” said McDaniel.
“When we went to the camp in Rome, Georgia, they selected us because they saw our true talent to go to England,” Javier added.
According to Enterprise Select Soccer director and coach Marco Lascano, the England camp will provide McDaniel and Javier with invaluable opportunities to learn from the best of the best.
“The camp is going to be putting them through what they do with the academy players,” Lascano said. “Some of the greats like Messi in Barcelona started out as kids in the academy and worked their way up into the professional ranks, so what they’re going to do at each one of these clubs is train as if they’re part of the academy, like all the other academy players. They’ll also play teams from that academy.”
The camp will be instructed by three different Premier football clubs: the Watford Football Club, the Stoke City Football Club, and the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club. Lascano said that the instruction Javier and McDaniel will receive will be geared toward the European style of playing.
In addition to their similar soccer talents, both Javier and McDaniel have similar interests and competitive backgrounds. Both boys have been involved in motocross events -- in fact, it was motocross that pushed McDaniel toward soccer in a roundabout way.
“I used to race motocross, but I got hurt way too much in it, so I told my dad that I want to play a sport where I don’t get hurt all the time,” McDaniel said. “I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps, so I decided to play soccer like he did in high school, and ever since that day I’ve been training in soccer.”
McDaniel’s father Michael said that though Tyler has been playing for a relatively short amount of time, he’s put in the work to improve himself since day one.
“The interesting thing with him is that he started early enough he’s only been playing three years, which is a relatively short amount of time for kids,” Michael said. “He was really good at motocross, but it was injury after injury, so he moved to soccer and he’s literally just finishing three years of it. A lot of kids start when they’re three years old, but he started at eight.”
Javier is new to Enterprise Select Soccer, but he’s definitely not new to the sport. Javier spent time living in Europe as a young boy due to his father’s military service and grew up watching soccer stars play.
“I got into playing soccer by watching all of the professionals playing. We came from Europe watching soccer,” said Javier.
“Robin is a lot like Tyler,” said Javier’s father Rudy. “He raced ATVs when we were in Belgium, and then he started to play soccer here. His goal is to become a professional soccer player. He learned how to play soccer when he was two or three. Back then, every time he’d kick the ball he’d start crying, but he’s progressed and progressed and now, of course, he doesn’t cry anymore.”
In addition to their similar sport backgrounds, Javier and McDaniel have a similar drive to excel in the game. Both boys practice long hours of their own volition, which their fathers said set them apart as players.
“As players, I think it’s their absolute dedication to the game without being forced,” said Michael. “Tyler walks around with a soccer ball in the house, goes out in the backyard and does exercises himself. Even when he went to the national camp I just told him to have a good time -- we had zero expectations that this was going to happen, so his dedication to what he’s doing is all him. As a kid, I just want to make sure that he has time to be a kid outside of this, and it seems to be a healthy balance so far. I think what they’re going to bring back, just the opportunity itself… Who knows what it will do for them?”
“His eagerness is just… He wants to become a professional player out there, and every time we go home, he knows we have practice, and an hour before practice he’s already dressed, already in the garage doing his footwork,” added Rudy. “I injured myself a couple of months ago, and he was in the backyard by himself an hour or two before practice working. The discipline on him is amazing because he wants to achieve that goal. I think to see these two kids play with some of the best kids out there, locally and internationally, that’s the best experience you can have.”
Lascano expressed pride in his players and is looking forward to hearing about their experiences in England.
“The experience these kids are going to get is unbelievable, and as a coach I’m proud,” Lascano said. “What I’ve seen in such a short time from Robin and what I’ve seen in Tyler is their work ethic -- the game does come pretty naturally for them, but they’re hard on themselves and they push themselves. From a coach’s standpoint, I’m very proud of them, and I’m going to pick their brains when they come back and see if they learn some new drills we might be able to use for the team. But it’s a great opportunity for them, whatever their goals may be. I think these kids can do anything because they have the right mindset.”
As for the boys, the things they’re most excited about are the opportunities to play ball with the best of the best.
“I’m most excited for playing with and training with the professionals. I want to see how they’re going to train me,” said Javier. “My favorite thing about soccer is the intensity and how much effort you have to put into it to be great.”
“I’m most excited to go see a premiere league game for the first time, because that’ll be the first time I experience a real FIFA game,” said McDaniel. “I don’t like to be the one to score goals when I play, I like to be the one to assist the goals, and I like it when someone gets the ball in after I pass to them. It’s like, ‘Oh, they couldn’t have done that without my help.’”