Categorized | Youth Academy

Dynakids to tour Europe

Posted on 08 December 2008 by ASN Staff

In just its third year of existence, the Dynamo Academy will get a chance to compare itself against the giants of European soccer next summer with an epic tour against six of the biggest clubs in the world.

In a 10-day span in August, the Dynamo will face Rangers, Celtic, Newcastle United, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Barcelona. Serious competition that Dynamo Director of Youth Development James Clarkson said was influenced by the track record of the Dynamo organization.

“They usually stay clear of [American teams], but the fact that we are the youth team of the Houston Dynamo and how successful the first team has been – there is a great deal of interest there,” Clarkson said. “If it was a regular youth soccer club from America, they wouldn’t be playing these games.”

Dynamo Academy goalkeeper Pat Wall, a junior at Strake Jesuit High School, expects to make the trip and is excited about the opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to the great competition we will be faced in Europe,” Wall said. “It will be a great chance to test our skills against players in other parts of the world. It will also be a great experience to see how other players our age play and how they act on and off the field.”

Academy players will be competing against each other for the right to go on this rare trip, and Clarkson said only this year’s high school underclassmen will be eligible to go.

“The selection process will be based on ability, availability, and the standard of their play,” Clarkson said. “We are going to announce the preliminary list by the end of the year so we can get things planned and organized in case parents want to go. By the time we get back from Mexico [early spring], we will make a decision on the 20 players that will go.”

To help offset the cost of the trip, Academy players are selling the Dynamo’s holiday cards, and fans can also choose to join the team for all or part of the landmark trip.

“When we first started the Academy, I told everybody we didn’t want to just play local club teams,” Clarkson said. “Our standards are higher than that. We want to play the Boca Juniors, the Real Madrids, and the Manchester Uniteds of the world, and within two years we will have done that. We want to continue to do it because of the benefit it is going to have on the players’ development. It shows where we are and, thanks to the success of the Houston Dynamo first team, it opens up avenues for these sorts of opportunities.”

While the trip opens up opportunities for Dynamo youth players to be seen and scouted by foreign clubs, it will also provide immediate benefits to the players and the Dynamo Academy itself.

“I think the kids are going to get real insight into what it takes to be a professional soccer player and how hard it is and the level in the rest of the world,” Clarkson said. “They need to get themselves fully prepared, because the opportunity is also out there for them to get scouted by the big European teams.”

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