The 2010 World Cup fever spilled into local fields all over the world. One Roatanian, the first ever in history, Georgie Welcome, represented Honduras at the FIFA South Africa World Cup games. He provided an inspiration for other islanders to try and improve their soccer skills and perhaps one day represent their home and country on an international stage.
In July, FC Milan Junior Football Camp, an international soccer training program, came to Roatan creating an opportunity to chase the football dreams of many young players, and in some cases, the dreams of their parents.
The camp lasted from July 19 until July 23 and provided an opportunity to over 30 young players. Some of them were as young as five, others as old as 18. They all focused their energy, practiced passing, dribbling, and shooting at the goal – all the sport’s fundamentals. While some participating kids had a superior set of skills, others looked at gaining knowledge about the fundamentals of the sport.
Kix Sports Complex in Coxen Hole provided the venue for the camp. The 80 meter by 50 meter Kix field was in perfect condition. The grass was thick and firm, the border marked by tape. The backdrop of the field was a tropical island forest. In brief, it was the perfect place to develop and hone in on soccer skills.
For Spring and Summer 2010 there were scheduled more than 180 Milan Junior Camp locations all around the world. There are camps from United States to Australia and this year Roatan became yet another such destination.
The AC Milan football camp is an opportunity not only to learn fundamentals of the sport and to match one’s skills against other players, but also to gain an opportunity to participate in an international tournament in Italy: the Milan Junior Camp Day Tournament. The one-day tournament is a venue for scouts for European football clubs to see and even sign young talent.
International Sports Academy (ISA Corp.) represents AC Milan in Central America and conducts AC Milan training camps from Panama to Guatemala. Four locations were set up in Honduras in 2010: two camps in San Pedro Sula, and one in Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba and Roatan. The Roatan three-hour-a-day, five-day event cost $130, less then a half of the $290 the camp costs in San Pedro Sula.
According to Massimilan Vincenti, on of the two AC Milan football camp trainers that came to Roatan in 2009, 15 young Honduran footballers were invited to participate in the Milan Junior Camp Day Tournament. In 2010, around nine to ten players are expected to be invited from Honduras to the Milan tournament, unfortunately no one yet from Roatan.
Two AC Milan football camp trainers had a chance to look at the Roatan talent. “They have the physical conditioning. What they lack is discipline and tactical skills,” Vincenti said about the young island players. The main person in charge was coach Mirko Colombo. Along side with Vincenti and working with the youngest players, was Luis Alvarado, local soccer trainer from Roatan.
While the cost of travel and staying in Italy has to be covered by each child, according to Vincenti, the promising players can expect, and often do, find local businesses that help them as sponsors.
A group of mothers sat in the shade a few meters away from the field. They are watching their sons line up, dribble, shoot and outrun their counterparts. Mirta McLaughlin, a West End resident, had two of her sons participate in the camp: Maximilian, 7, and Alexander, 5, signed up for the camp. “It’s a great program,” said Mirta.[/private]