Three Enterprise Select Soccer players recently took advantage of an opportunity to take their game to the next level and tour the world in the process.
Robin Javier, Tyler McDaniel and Olivia Palfreeman previously participated in a national soccer camp in Rome, Georgia; due to their exceptional performances, the players were invited to attend exclusive soccer camps in England and Spain to learn from the pros. Now back on American soil, the young athletes were excited to share what they’d learned on and off the field.
Javier and McDaniel went to England and attended special training sessions with the Watford Football Club, the Stoke City Football Club, and the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club. Both boys thoroughly enjoyed their experiences with the teams.
“It was a blast. We learned a lot of things, like how to pass, how to read the game, how to set the play… It was amazing,” said Javier. “We were all together learning drills anyone can play, and my favorite part was practicing with the pros. At the end of every session we got to talk to the pros and ask them any questions we had. It felt amazing.”
“There’s a lot of great moments I got from training,” added McDaniel. “My favorite team to train with was Watford because I had so many different training sessions with them. I got to understand their style of play because I had the most training sessions with them. I really liked their activities because they didn’t just do soccer, they did stuff to help your soccer.”
As part of the experience, Javier and McDaniel were able to tour historical sites in England and attend a professional league game, which McDaniel said was one of his favorite aspects of the trip.
“I really liked the game, mainly because I really liked the atmosphere of the game and I had really good seats in the stadium -- I was smack dab in the middle behind the goal,” McDaniel said.
Palfreeman, who attended an elite camp in Spain, had similar experiences to McDaniel and Javier; however, she trained primarily with RCD Espanyol, a premiere La Liga team. Palfreeman’s father Jason said the experience was extremely positive for her.
“Being able to play with really quality kids from all over North America, because there were kids from Canada and the United States there, going over and being part of a culture that really breeds soccer was a great experience for her,” Jason said. “They all played together, so she got to do some work on the field as well as in the goal. They wanted to give the kids a well-rounded experience.”
“I would definitely do the camp again,” Palfreeman added.
Palfreeman’s experience also included attending a professional match, which she said was her favorite part of the trip.
“I loved going to the La Liga game. It was RCD Espanyol, which was the club I was there visiting and playing with, and they played against Getafe,” Palfreeman said.
McDaniel’s father Michael and Palfreeman’s father Jason said that the camps, though in different countries, provided great insight on the European style of play that their children couldn’t have learned as effectively anywhere else.
“Probably one of the things in terms of their learning was the style of play,” Michael said. “It’s a lot different, the focus is different. The focus isn’t on the kid that can score the goal, that can hold the ball -- European style of play is very different than American style of play.”
“I think the biggest difference is that Spain is really rich in soccer players,” Jason added. “I think the biggest thing we see differently is it’s their number one sport -- they live it, they breathe it, it’s on just about every channel over there, basically all the kids play it… Basically the thing I would take away from it, not just for Enterprise Select Soccer but for soccer in the U.S. in general, is it needs to be just part of the culture if we’re going to be successful as far as playing at the international level. Over there, that’s what they do -- where we divide our kids up between football and basketball and baseball and volleyball, they just do soccer. Kids start playing as soon as they’re able to walk, and it doesn’t matter if it’s on the street, on a field, wherever -- they find a place and they start playing.”
As for Javier, McDaniel and Palfreeman, all three players said they believe the experience will affect their game for the better.
““I think it’s going to affect my game a lot, because now that I know what the pros do, I think I can use that all in a game,” Javier said.
“I think it’s going to help me individually,” said McDaniel. “It’ll also help Robin. But with myself individually, I feel good.”