Siouxland Soccer Team Sets Sights on World’s Largest Youth Soccer Tournaments
For Immediate Release
Officials from the BSX Soccer Academy, the Diablos Soccer team and the Norm Waitt Sr. YMCA gathered Monday afternoon to formally announce the team’s participation in two international youth soccer tournaments to be held in Sweden and Denmark in July 2016. This will be the first time any Siouxland team has had the opportunity to compete in either of these prestigious events.
Coached by BSX Soccer Academy Director Carlos Saenz, the team is made up of 20 young players, ages 14 and 15, from Bishop Heelan High School, North High School, East High School and South Sioux City High School. Many of the players have been together for nearly a decade, playing under the Diablos banner with the South Sioux City Soccer Club.
“This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these kids,” said Saenz. “Not only will they be traveling to Europe for the first time, but they will be able to experience a level of soccer they have never seen before. Many of the soccer superstars they look up to today came through these very same tournaments.”
The team’s competitions will begin with the Gothia Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden, July 17-23. The world’s largest youth soccer tournament, the Gothia Cup will include nearly 1,600 teams from over 80 countries. By week’s end, nearly 5,000 games on over 110 soccer fields will have been played.
Immediately following the Gothia Cup, the Siouxland team will travel to Hjørring, Denmark, for the Dana Cup, July 24-30. The world’s third largest youth soccer tournament with just over 1,000 teams competing, the Dana Cup is Denmark’s single largest sporting event.
A veteran of international tournaments himself, Saenz says the tournaments are about much more than soccer and competition. His contacts made through his own participation as a teen helped secure 2016 invitations for the Diablos.
“This is all about the full experience. These kids will meet others from all over the world, form new and lifelong friendships in a matter of days and it will expose them to new ideas and cultures they would otherwise never experience. And they get to do it all while playing a game they love.”
Monday also officially launched the group’s efforts to raise funds needed for the trip. Players, coaches, parents and chaperones will all participate in the groups’ fundraising efforts, which will require about $80,000 for the 15-day experience. It’s a goal YMCA Development Director Erica DeLeon believes is achievable.
“It’s a big goal,” says DeLeon, “But this is a Siouxland team representing our entire region for the first time internationally and Siouxland has a rich history of getting behind the home team. I have no doubt that local businesses and individuals will want to step up and make sure these kids are able to take advantage of this opportunity and proudly represent Siouxland in Europe at these amazing tournaments.”
A GoFundMe crowdfunding account has also been set up for anyone wanting to make an online donation to assist the team. Overall team and player sponsorships will be available; interested businesses or individuals should contact DeLeon at SiouxlandToSweden@nwsymca.org
“I cannot tell you how proud I will be to have this fantastic group of hard-working, dedicated kids representing Siouxland in front of 60,000 soccer fans at the opening ceremony,” said Saenz. “This entire team has worked so hard to get to this level and it really doesn’t matter how they do in individual matches – they will all come away winners from this.”
(News features from our press conference announcement 10/26/15)