San Diego Surf Soccer Club Players Invited to Train at Manchester City Football Club’s Youth Academy
Two youth soccer players from San Diego Surf Soccer Club will travel to England to train with elite EPL Academy youth players
San Diego Surf Soccer Club players Miles Imparato and Diego Orosco have the most amazing plans for Thanksgiving this year. The two young athletes, both of whom play on Surf Grassroots Director Mario Mrakovic’s BU8 team, have been invited to attend a training program at Manchester City Academy alongside a number of other, older boys.
The opportunity came about this past summer, following the soccerloco Surf Cup. Miles and Diego were among a group of players invited to participate in the first Pro-I.D. Soccer Camp, organized by internationally-known youth soccer coach and scout Jeff Illingworth. The camp not only provided the participants with high-level training, but also the chance to be scouted by coaches Mark Burton, Gareth Whalley and Danny Walker from Manchester City Academy.
Asked why he had organized the identification camp, Illingworth explained, “I know there is talent on this side of the Atlantic and I am thrilled that Manchester City Academy identified more players than they expected. This is a win-win for youth soccer on both sides of the globe. Manchester City Academy coaches look to develop the most talented players.”
Miles and Diego certainly impressed the coaches, holding their own against players who were two or more years older than they are. Even being the smallest on the pitch, their skills and abilities were easy to recognize. While they did not receive the offer of an all-expenses paid trip, being able to actually participate in the upcoming training camp is a dream come true for these two mighty mites.
When he found that he had been invited to the Manchester City camp, seven-year-old Miles – who hopes to be a professional one day because he never wants to stop playing the game he loves – was understandably excited. He feels he was chosen because he loves to play and truly has fun in the game. That enjoyment clearly shines through for all to see.
“Miles has all the traits of a future superstar,” said Mrakovic of his talented player, “a great soccer brain, personality, intelligence and a strong work ethic. Miles has a passion for the sport. He is well known already for his Messi-like dribbles and scores easily. This kid is special. The one thing I love the most about this kid Miles are his smiles!”
Parents Tom and Laura Imparato are also thrilled with the opportunity their son has earned. “This is a unique opportunity put together by some really outstanding people,” Tom Imparato told SoccerNation News. “I know it will be an unforgettable experience for him.”
While professional soccer may not be in Diego’s future plans – he hopes to become a scientist – the game is also one of his current passions. “Soccer is a good sport for me,” he admitted. He believes he was one of the players able to participate because, “I do the best I can all the time and try to improve.”
“Diego lives and breathes soccer; his passion for the sport is incredible,” said Mrakovic. He is a very talented young player who will listen and wants to learn and then will go practice it on his own. He is a thinking player, one that will analyze the game long after it is over. He is so driven for his young age, and I see no reason why he wouldn’t have a wonderful and illustrious soccer career.”
“This is a chance of a lifetime for a soccer fan to visit a place like the Academy, let alone train there,” said Michael Orosco, Diego’s father. “I love the fact that he will have a chance to make new friends with other players his age who share his love, and to get more guidance from the insightful, kind, and very professional coaches who visited us at the camp. It is also a perfect opportunity to travel to England and go to the same stadiums my sons and I watch on TV every weekend.”
The Pro-I.D. Soccer Camp provided the young attendees with an amazing opportunity to develop their individual skills and deepen their understanding of the technical and tactical sides of the world’s favorite game. It also gave them a glimpse into the workings of the Manchester City Academy’s player development program. With a philosophy that seeks to “develop technically gifted, competitive, decision-making winners,” Manchester City clearly had much to offer these young athletes during the brief experience.
“It was a challenging week, as Diego and Miles were the youngest kids at the camp. These two played with strong U10 and U11 players,” said Michael Orosco. “At the end of camp when the coaches gave me word that he would be welcome to visit at the Academy, I was very grateful and very happy for Diego.”
Not only did Miles and Diego have the chance to train with the coach of Manchester City Academy’s U8 team, they were also able to share that experience with their Surf SC teammates.
During the week Mrakovic was able to organize a friendly scrimmage between his U8 team and the U10 and U11 campers. The experience was invaluable for the younger boys and was a chance to showcase this hardworking team.
So now the two budding soccer stars will prepare for their journey across the big pond and the adventures that await them. They have already proven themselves at home and now have the chance to do it again in front of some of the best young players in the game. But for two boys who have lived and breathed the game in Southern California since they were toddlers, this should be “child’s play.”
“Diego has been walking around with a ball at his feet since he was 10 months old,” said Orosco. “He has a passion to play. What makes him special is that he is intelligent, teachable, and considerate. He often mentions how good his teammates are on the U8 team, and how proud he is to play with them.”
“Miles has always been the smallest kid on his team but one of the hardest workers,” said Tom Imparato. “Since he’s been able to walk he’s had a ball at his feet and never really played with toys. We thought maybe something was different as he played up his previous two years of competitive soccer and dribbled through players with such ease. If I had to pick the best thing about watching him play soccer it’s that he does it in a way that’s beautiful and makes you smile.”
Coach Mrakovic is understandably proud of his two young athletes, whom he compares to Messi (Miles) and Ronaldo (Diego). While they play different positions – Miles is a center forward with a great scoring touch and Diego is a talented right outside midfielder who excels in setting up players – they both share one important quality with their coach – passion for the sport.
“They are almost as crazy about the game as I am,” jokes Mrakovic. “They want to learn, get better, know more and improve. They are very distinctive individuals for such a young age. The biggest challenge is to get them off the fields after the training session. They stay for hours.”
“I enjoy the chemistry with them,” Mrakovic admits. “I know that I will be coaching them beyond just this year as their ‘team coach.’ I will be looking after them long beyond that. It is a special bond based on love and trust. It is not official or artificial, it is a genuine mutual bond.”
Diego and Miles will join the other boys invited to the Manchester City Academy training camp from November 21 through December 1. When they return they will have great stories to tell and amazing memories to carry with them life-long. This will truly be a life-changing experience for them.