Players from 7 Elite Academy's National Title winning 01 Boys team sampled life in the professional game during a trip to some of the biggest youth soccer academies in the United Kingdom.
The youngsters, who won the US National Championships in 2018, spent ten days training and playing games against youth sides in North-West England.
The team took part in training sessions at Wolverhampton Wanderers, Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic, and enjoyed guided tours of Anfield and Old Trafford.
They also took on Blackburn, Chester FC and Irlam FC in challenge encounters, before watching a number of English Premier League and English Football League matches.
Stuart Dewey, who has coached the current 7 Elite Academy 01 Boys team for fours years, said: “This tour has been amazing for these boys. We got to see some amazing cities and got in touch with fantastic coaches.
“The lads conducted themselves brilliantly throughout and their attitude has been first class. A lot of them will now go to High School and College, so it was great to show them what their careers could be like in the future.
“It was a good eye-opener for them to see how different things are over here and I think it will help them to better understand how to progress towards a professional soccer career.
“This trips shows how we can provide opportunities to players wanting to come to 7 Elite Academy. We are developing some great contacts over here with clubs that can offer a future in the game.”
The trip was organised to develop an understanding of how professional academies in the UK recruit and train players, as the 01 Boys – who all live in the Saint George region - approach graduation from 7 Elite Academy.
The group was also given a guided tour of Liverpool Hope University, to discover how young people from across the world are benefiting from various education and sporting degrees in the city.
Anthony Godfrey, Global Technical Director at 7 Elite Academy, was impressed with the youngsters' attitudes throughout the trip.
He said: “This trip has seen the lads sample day to day life at four superb professional soccer academies in the UK. To be around the coaches and facilities at Wolves, Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan has been great for them.
“It is great that they took themselves out of the US bubble to come here and go through this really wonderful experience of what life is like for an Academy player.
“We pride ourselves on how our individual players progress, from when they first join us to where they go next. Some are looking at University programs in the UK and others are looking to play professionally, so this trip was especially important for them.
“Hopefully we have planted seeds with these lads about what their lives could be like within soccer after they graduate from 7 Elite Academy. That is really important to us.”
Many of the games were played in wet and windy conditions during the English winter, but every player acquitted themselves against tough Academy opponents.
Defender Logan Amick said: “This trip has been a great experience, being able to train and see players at these academies. It has helped us to become better players, and we've learned to adapt and play in all conditions.
“I will take these experiences away with me for the rest of my life. We've not only become better players, but we've also been making fantastic memories while doing it.”
Goalkeeper Gabe Borst added: “It has been a lot of fun. We've seen the opportunities that players in the UK have and how they use the best equipment, and how they control themselves to be the best they can.
“It's been a lot windier than I'm used to, with the ball skipping a lot, but I have really enjoyed it.”
Winger Bridger Heaton said: “It has been very wet and windy and we are not used to that, but it has definitely made us better players. We have been working on our first touch and how to play in those conditions.
“The highlight has been the training sessions with all the different facilities. The coaches here are intense and just want to make us better. I have absolutely loved that.”