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England, here they come

The FC Mesa boys' soccer team, an AYSO Region 120 under-12 squad, will compete in a tournament in England this week.

July 31, 2010|By Steve Virgen, steve.virgen@latimes.com
(Courtesy of Shaun…)

From museums to breathtaking sites, there's plenty to do in England. For the boys on the AYSO Region 120 under-12 travel soccer team, they know the game is big in that country. That's enough to get them excited.

But, as the boys from Costa Mesa board their plane today, some taking a flight for the first time, they'll think of the most thrilling part about their upcoming trip.

"We are looking forward to everything, but we are looking forward to the tournament mostly," said Kobe Wood, an 11-year-old Costa Mesa resident on the team. "We are looking forward to the tournament because that's the whole reason we're going."

FC Mesa, the travel team made up of 15 players and two coaches, will spend a week in England, competing in the Arsenal tournament. The boys say they are grateful for the opportunity to play together outside of the U.S. They realize all the work that went into making it happen, as expenses have been paid for their trip through fundraising. A community came together to help the boys create everlasting memories.

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Plans for the trip have been over a year in the making. Last year in May, Coach Brett Clement received word that his team was selected to take the trip.

Players were selected and parents took on the task of helping the team raise the money. Schedules were adjusted, fireworks booths were manned throughout the day and night, parents and players were pushed to the limit to help make the trip happen.

"It's been a fantastic journey for everybody," Clement said. "When I learned that we would be the travel team, I thought: what a fantastic thing. We chose England. England has such a history of soccer. I thought it would be a great place to experience real soccer … I hope they experience something they'll never ever be able to forget. My vision is for them to experience something they might never experience again."

Just as Wood said, the boys are going to England to compete. But don't misunderstand him. He also said they want to have fun.

Part of that fun is taking in a friendly at Wembley Stadium, Manchester United versus Chelsea. After the tournament is over next week, they'll take another trip to Paris for more tourist-type experiences.

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