Youth Soccer News: Surf BU12 Academy Take on International Competition in Portugal and Spain
In 2013 the San Diego Surf SC BU13 team traveled to Europe to compete in the IberCup in Lisbon, Portugal, and the Copa Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. This year their younger club mates, Surf BU12 Academy, will make their own journey across the Atlantic to take part in the IberCup and the Donosti Cup in San Sebastián, Spain.
Coached by Steve Hill, the Surf BU12 Academy players are no strangers to tough competition, having brought home titles from some of the top tournaments in Southern California. The team just became Cal South National Cup Champions, defeating LA Galaxy Academy North in the finals on March 23.
The team had already earned a Cal South State Cup championship as U9s and won several tournaments this year, including the prestigious San Diego Surf Cup as well as Pats Cup and NHB.
The IberCup is one of the largest and most prestigious international youth soccer tournaments in Europe and every year approximately 350 youth teams from 50 nations travel from all across the world to participate. It is an extraordinary opportunity to compete with some of the top level teams in the world, and more than 8,000 players, coaches and family spectators are expected come to Estoril for this week of soccer competition. This year, the annual IberCup “Estoril” will be held from July 1 through July 6.
Estoril is one of the most famous resort destinations on the Iberian Peninsula. Located on the south-central coast about 20 miles west of Lisbon, the region has been drawing attention for centuries. Perhaps most famous for its casino, which was the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s novel Casino Royale that introduced the world to James Bond, Estoril also features gorgeous beaches and historic castles. When the team and parents are not on the pitch, expect to find them on the warm sands or exploring ancient ruins that date back to the Roman times.
San Sebastián’s Donosti Cup draws over 400 teams from around the world for a week of tough competition and amazing pageantry. The tournament’s opening ceremonies include a parade of teams similar to the Parade of Nations at the Olympics, and teams create chants to celebrate their participation. Past participants in the Donosti Cup have included Xabi Alonso of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona’s Jordi Alba. The 2014 Donosti Cup will run from July 6 through July 12.
Located on the north coast of Spain in the Basque region, San Sebastián is just 12 miles from the French border. The tournament takes its name from the Basque name for the city – Donostia – and the people of the region call themselves “donostiarra.” One of the top tourist destinations in Northern Spain, San Sebastián has been named a “European Capital of Culture” for 2016. The city’s Old Quarter, or Parta Vieja, features historic buildings and interesting shops, and the local beaches are world renowned.
Surf BU12 Academy will bring a stellar record of success to these two international tournaments. The team made their presence known as early as BU9 when they won the Cal South State Cup Presidents Division under coach Danny Salas. As BU10s and BU11s coached by Dave Currie, the boys brought home the title in both the 2011 and 2012 editions of the West Coast Futbol Classic in Orange County as well as many others. The team then closed out their BU11 year by becoming champions at the 2013 Las Vegas Cup.
As BU12s under coach Hill, the boys have continued their winning ways, earning their fifth consecutive soccer league title. Now the boys, many of whom have never traveled outside of Southern California, are ready to take on the world. As their coach Hill says, “this is the trip of a lifetime.”
The trip is being organized through Premier International Tours, a leader in international youth sports tours. The company was formed by former Dutch player Loek van Zijl and has helped nearly 80,000 young soccer players live the dream of playing internationally.
“It is important to see how people from the other side of the world look at the world’s most popular sport,” explains van Zijl. “Soccer players learn to appreciate the game of soccer from a totally different perspective after an international trip.”
To help make this dream trip come true, the team is currently holding fundraisers through gofundme.com, with a goal of $12,000 to cover travel and other expenses. While the International Surf roster does include a few players from other clubs, the emphasis has always been to try to include as many of these academy players as possible. To do this, the boys have held raffles, sold pizza coupons, sold coffee and snacks at the field, collected coins, and even hosted a booth at a local swap meet. Currently plans are also in the works for a rummage sale.
“Our goal is to raise a total of $20,000 to help a number of our players participate in the two tournaments,” says Robert Uno, whose son Ish Uno plays on the squad. “While some of the boys and their families are able to pay for the tournament, the boys understand that some of their teammates are not in the same financial position. They also recognize what it means to be a team and without these additional teammates it would not be the same experience or the competition would not yield the same result. The boys have come together to raise money to help their teammates.”
“As a team, the boys have tremendous potential to represent their country internationally,” explains Amy Haseyama, mother of Surf BU12 Academy player Kai Haseyama, on the gofundme.com page. “These opportunities provide exposure while competing at the highest levels in youth soccer instilling discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship, honesty and integrity.”