In the first week of April, 26 Fire Juniors players, 45 family members and 5 staff had the opportunity of a lifetime with an 8-day international soccer tour of Italy that was organized by XL Sports Tours. The group was comprised of 3 teams – 07/08 boys, 05/06 boys and 08-06 girls. The travelers enjoyed a great mixture of soccer training and games against local Italian opposition, and sightseeing trips to some of Italy’s most renowned cities and tourist destinations.
After an overnight flight to Milan, the trip began with a visit to the historic San Siro for a Serie A match-up between Inter Milan and Lazio. The next two days included a morning training session for the teams with Fire Juniors coaches, a walking tour of the beautiful Lake Como and a visit to Milan to tour the Duomo Di Milano, the 4th largest cathedral in the world.
Day two also saw our first round of games, with games hosted by Real Meda. The 05/06 Boys, coached by Louisiana Fire Juniors Director of Coaching, Julio Paiz, ended in a well fought 0-0 draw. The 07/08 Boys coached by Florida Fire Juniors Direct of Coaching, Paul Williams, ended in a 6-goal thriller with a 3-3 result. Finally, Matt Bond, Head Coach at Chicago Fire Juniors City and his 06-08 Girls team played out a 4-team mini tournament where they finished undefeated with 2 wins and draw in 3 matches. “Bringing them together as one, getting them on the same page and competing against foreign players is a challenge but very rewarding when you see it all come together as the week goes by,” said Coach Paiz of the experience.
The Fire Family then traveled down to Tuscany, where they visited Florence and Coverciano, the official training ground of the Italian National Football Federation. The players enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime experience of training on one of the pristine Coverciano pitches with professional Italian coaches. Once settled in Tuscany, the group would take in a day trip to the city of Florence, a bike trip around the city of Lucca and a tourist train to the amazing Cinque Terre: Italy’s Five Lands nestled in the cliffs overlooking the Ligurian Sea.
For the second round of matches the Juniors teams went on to play matches hosted by Giovani Via Nova. Our 05/06 Boys pulled off a great team win that ended in a 4-0 result. The 07/08 Boys had a hard fought 1-0 loss to a strong Italian side. Finally, our 06-08 Girls also managed a win to continue their undefeated run while in Italy.
To round out an amazing week, the group made one more stop to Casa Milan, the home and headquarters of A.C. Milan. The trip concluded with one more set of action-packed matches hosted by GSO Castello Calcio. Our 05/06 Boys went on to get a 4-0 win for the second time in a row during our trip. We closed out the 07/08 Boys and 06-08 Girls trip by mixing the two teams together in a match against GSO Castello Calcio’s 07 Boys team where our Fire Juniors side gave it everything but fell short in a 4-0 loss to the Italian side.
Finally, players, parents, and staff gathered for one last family dinner to enjoy excellent food and company while reflecting on the week. “The Italy trip was an unbelievable experience, with the agendas, matches, and training,” shared one 06 boys parent, “everything is top notch and truly a memory for our family that will never be forgotten.”
Fire Juniors visit San Siro, home of Inter and A.C. Milan
Fire Juniors visit the Coverciano, training ground of Italian National Football Federation
The 06/08 girls compete with elite Italian players