Bedford Soccer Players Display Talents in South Africa
Trip was an opportunity of a lifetime, say members of New England Revolution youth development program.
For many young athletes, an opportunity to use their talents to travel abroad is a dream of a lifetime.
Two Bedford residents recently earned that exact opportunity.
Erik Martel and Casey Schehl, members of the New England Revolution youth development program, traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa, where they competed in the Future Champions Gauteng Under-17 Tournament from March 26-31.
"Traveling to South Africa was a once in a lifetime experience for me," said Schehl. "The competition we faced while there was at a higher level that we would not see anywhere in the United States. The teams were faster, quicker, and smarter than any American teams we have played."
"Playing other teams from all over the world was also a great opportunity for me as a player and the Revolution as a club," added Martel. "The other teams were very experienced and played different styles than we are used to in the U.S. Development Academy. It made us adapt and change the way we played in order to be successful."
The Revs, the lone North American representative of the 12 elite international teams, finishished the tournament in sixth place - the highest ever for a North American team - with a 1-3-1 record.
Martel noted the trip will do nothing but benefit his club the rest of the season.
"I think this trip to South Africa will have many applications to the remainder of our season. Playing against teams from around the world taught us to be more comfortable on the ball, to be patient, and to work extremely hard as a unit when we don't have the ball," said Martel. "We will bring these new aspects of our game back to the U.S. and hopefully it benefits us during the season. We also will come back into our league with a lot of confidence, knowing that we can compete with other top clubs from around the world. Lastly, the trip has greatly improved our team chemistry. Traveling and living together in the hotel has made us more comfortable with each other, and brought out the best in our team. We are now one tribe working for each other on and off the field and this will be one of our greatest strengths looking to the future."
"After this competition, I think our team has realized the speed of play, intelligence and concentration we need to have in order to play the best that we can play and compete with other teams," said Schehl. "Our team is going to use those aspects of our game to improve individual performance, and also to improve the team’s overall performance. I feel that we will do very well this season because of what we have learned while on this trip."
Off the pitch, Schehl said the trip was equally enriching. The team had an oppotunity to bond staying in the same hotel. Both Players noted their experience at the South African Lion Park was a memory they'll never forget.
"Aside from playing in the games on this trip, my favorite part of the trip was the Lion Park and also being able to see our team come closer together as one unit than at any other time," he said. "At the Lion Park, everyone was enjoying each other's company and everyone was getting along with each other. Being able to play with lion cubs and come face to face with a giraffe was something I will never forget, and something the team will never forget."
More information about the Revs’ trip can be found at the following links: