Gulf Coast United Futbol Club practicing for competition (Photo source: WLOX)
JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -
From the coast to another country. Several soccer players from the coast will soon be heading overseas to play in an international competition that will place them head to head against foreign teams.
Tuesday night marked the first practice for 15 lucky teenagers from South Mississippi who have been presented with a once in a lifetime opportunity. The team will be competing in Guatemala.
Gabriel Evans, 15, of Ocean Springs, carefully blocks a ball from making it to the goal. He and 14 others are practicing for the first time in preparation for a trip to Central America
"It's just different. We're used to playing around the coast, and going to Guatemala is just going to be different, I have to say," said Gabriel.
It's all part of a three-day soccer tournament called the Copa Futeca. However, the team will be going for more than just competition.
"It's going to be a good learning experience for the boys in several different ways. One, how they play soccer and how we can learn from them, and also to let them see a different part of the world," said coach Steve Broussard.
For Broussard, it's about more than just soccer. The team will also be visiting and volunteering at an orphanage and gaining an experience that's out of the norm.
"We also have some sightseeing set up already for our boys to visit a live volcano. Jump into some hot springs there," said Broussard.
An experience these players maybe wouldn't have had without the power of soccer.
"I'm excited. I've never played soccer out the country, so it should be fun. I'm just excited," said Adam Walker.
"I'm mostly looking forward to just playing different teams internationally. We play teams around the coast. We know what they're about, but over there, international, it's different. I like different," said Gabriel.
The team plans to leave June 24 and return July 3.