When the members of the '94 Wilmington N.C Cape Fear Beakers Boys Soccer Club departed for Perugia, Italy, they did not know what to expect. They did know, however, that they would be training and participating in an international tournament that included players from several European countries as well as the United States and Canada.
Their coach, Antonio Saviano, tried to get them to understand that many of their opponents would be bigger, stronger, faster and better skilled than the players they were used to facing.
There would also be the issue of playing on a larger field with Eleven players a side, instead of the usual eight vs. eight they were used to.
When they got to Italy, their week was laid out for them. There would be two training sessions, morning and afternoon, for Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday would be a sightseeing day and a chance to rest. Thursday through Saturday they would compete I an eleven-team tournament with at least two games a day. The championship finale would take place on Saturday afternoon.
At 9:30 Monday morning they all boarded the bus buzzing with excitement as they headed off to their first session. Although jet-lagged from arriving the prior day, their enthusiasm overcame sleep deprivation. The parents spent the late morning relaxing in town, sightseeing, shopping and sipping cappuccinos. When the team bus returned for lunch, however, the lack of sleep and demanding training session had obviously taken its toll.
The boys were exhausted and were told to eat lunch and go to their rooms to rest and recover before their afternoon session. Eleven year old Jack Sordellini was among more than a few players who wondered "what did I get myself into?" He rallied, however, for next session, as well as the two on Tuesday, but was always happy to return to the hotel to eat, swim with his teammates at the pool and just relax. Wednesday was a welcome day off, and many members of the team toured Rome and other parts of this beautiful country.
On Thursday the games finally began. Jack could not wait and it did not take long for him to get what he came for. Playing at the right wing, it seemed that every ball in the first 10 minutes of the match were played to his part of the field and he was forced to make several long runs. The size and speed of his opponents was as advertised and the larger field along with the pace of the game tested his stamina. Once again he wondered if he was in over his head. The game finally settled into a less frenetic pace and the boys from Wilmington realized that they could compete with their stronger opponents. This first game ended scoreless in regulation time and Wilmington won on penalty kicks. They played the balance of the schedule in a similar fashion, and although they did not make the tourney finals, they clearly earned respect. Their confidence grew with each match, both on and off the field.........read more here.