Local youth soccer team heads to Sweden for an international tournament
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A 15-member youth soccer team from Tulare County will take on the world â" the youth soccer world that is.
The team from the South Valley Chivas Academy are traveling to Sweden to participate in the Gothia Cup, described as the World Youth Cup.
Nick Pritchett, the team's coach, said preparations for this trip started 18 months ago.
The trip will serve as a learning experience.
"This is a big thing to grow up to," he said. "They had gotten better and better and not just as players but as persons."
Esmaldo Hernandez, the academy's president, agreed, saying th e team members will get the chance to learn a lot.
The team can also see how it measures up against other youth soccer teams.
"It is a chance to grow as a person. It is a chance to grow as a player," Hernandez said. "We are trying to get them out of Tulare County area and seek the highest competition."
This team did well at a tournament in Northern California, Hernandez said.
The Gothia tournament will draw 1,731 teams from 78 countries. Nearly 4,400 matches will be played and 196 teams will compete in the boys under 14 division.
Pritchett, a Visalia attorney, said the local team members will get a chance to meet peers from all over the world.
"They can't wait to play in it," he said. "They can see they can play with these kids."
Hernandez said this tournament will give the players a window into the world.
"It is a great way to learn the world playing a sport you love," he said.
Chivas Academy has two locations in Visalia and Porterville. The team will feature players from Visalia, Tulare, Exeter, and Porterville.
"They are respectful boys," Pritchett said. "They appreciate sports. They appreciate they are athletes. They are competitive. They will compete at anything."
The players are: Garret Babb, Oscar Reyna-Sanchez and Kareem Mohsin from El Diamante High School; Jeffrey Meeks, Alexis Garcia-Falcon, and Alex Acevedo from Mt. Whitney; Cole Pritchett, Max Dwelle, and Hector Mendez from Redwood; Tulare' Jesus Godinez; Exeter's Cameron Powell; Ridgeview's Alex Kirkman and Jacob Perch; Alastair Batchman from Green Acres and Holden Feller, from UPHS.
The players will experience a completely different culture in Sweden, a country that recently participated in FIFA's World Cup, Hernandez said.
"They will see the true meaning of soccer," he said.
The Gothia Cup will follow the s ame format as the World Cup: four-team groups and each team having three matches.
The South Valley Chivas will play teams from England and Sweden.
But there's no reason for the local team to be intimidated by the setting, Hernandez said.
He said he has simple advice.
"Play the way you know how. Play the way you always play and you will be fine," he said.
The soccer academy has 18 teams featuring more than 300 players up to 18 years old.
Hernandez is pleased this team is representing the academy. It's an example of the philosophy that serves as a guide at the academy, he said.
"Shot for the sun and if you land on the moon, you are doing all right," he said.
Coach Pritchett said he wants his team to do well.
"I like to think they can do anything," he said.
The local team has ties to Chivas, a professional soccer team in Mexico. Chivas is goats for Spanish.
The Mexican team, b ased in Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city, and with a great following in the United States, got the nickname, according to lore, when a member from the crosstown rival club pejoratively described the way they play.
"They all run behind the ball like a bunch of goats," the player said.
Coach Pritchett said didn't know how to say goats in Swedish. He also said he didn't have a prepared answered for when asked what is a team from California carrying the name of a Mexican team.
However, he said his team is a reflection of Tulare County and the state.
"We are a good representation of where we live," he said. "It's an example of California."
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More: Measure N money to be used for youth programsRead or Share this story: https://vtd-tar.co/2L50oNgSource: Google News Sweden | Netizen 24 Sweden