’93 Region IV ODP Team in Europe
Santa Clara Sporting alumni, Kelsey Foo recently returned from Europe after traveling with the ’93 Region IV ODP Team. The U17 girls team was led by head coach Jerry Smith, who is also the head coach of the womens soccer program at Santa Clara University. They spent a week from February 27th to March 7th on the road playing international soccer games in Portugal and Spain, and got the chance to watch three games at the 2010 Algarve Cup. Here is a short interview with Kelsey. More photos are online.
What is the Regional ODP Team and how did you get selected?
Kelsey: There are four Regional ODP (Olympic development teams) in the US, and Region IV is made-up of the 13 states in the Western US. We have to tryout against 150 State ODP players at the Regional ODP Camp in Idaho; there are 13 State ODP Teams from Hawaii to Wyoming and Colorado that send their best 18 players to camp. We spend a week competing and they pick 24-30 players on the team. 18 players were chosen from our pool of 30 players to travel. We traveled with two goalies and 16 field players, two coaches and a team manager.
What was it like to travel to Europe and play soccer?
Kelsey: It was an exciting trip to play in Portugal and Spain, but we were also a bit nervous because our team was unsure how we would play with jet lag and all the travel. It took us 30 hours to make the trip to Lisbon because we left at 1pm on Saturday afternoon from Oakland, then to Los Angeles, waited 4 hours for other team members to arrive at LAX. Once everybody arrived, we flew on Air France to Paris, then took another flight to Lisbon, Portugal. We arrived at our hotel on Monday at 1:30am after a two hour bus ride from the airport.
What was your schedule like, and who did your team play?
Kelsey: On the first day after we arrived, we had a light day of training, then got to attend the US vs. Sweden soccer match at the Algarve Cup. On Tuesday, we drove 2.5 hours to Sevilla, Spain to play a U17-20 club team. We won that game 6-0 and were surprised we didn’t feel too jet lagged from all the travel. Wednesday was another training day and we watched China play Sweden at the tournament. Our coach wanted us to study how the teams played, paying attention to what formations the teams played and their different playing styles. Thursday played the youth Irish National Team. They were pretty good and we finished the first half in a 0-0 tie. In the second half we broke down their defense and scored three goals to win 3-0. We also saw the Algarve Cup championship match between the US and Germany. On the following day, we drove back to Lisbon and played a club team. In between all the soccer games and traveling we had a little bit of time for shopping, and some sightseeing. We went to Sevilla and Castellon (where Christopher Columbus was from) Spain, and got to visit a castle in Lisbon, Portugal.
What advice do you have for younger players?
Kelsey: Always work on your technical skills and your knowledge of the game. Watch a lot of soccer and pay attention to what players do off the ball just as much as when they have the ball. If you are a field player, be prepared to play different positions. I play center-mid on my club team, but I sometimes play attacking mid, or a holding midfield position on the National Team, and on this trip I was asked to play center back. If you learn to play more positions then you have a better chance to move-up in ODP, especially when the coach can only bring 18 players. Learn to play in many formations too. Our team played in a 3-5-2 on this trip because we had a lot of strong mid-fielders.