LIHUE — Seven Hawaii Youth Soccer Association players from Kauai are currently in Europe participating in the Dana Cup in Denmark and the Gothia Cup in Sweden.
Ranging in age from 10 through 14 years old, Kiani Souza, Bailey Hanna, Kaylee Overmyer, Deshaynee Iseri-Carvalho, Gabriela Anakalea, Joshua Layaoen and Lucas Anakalea were selected and accompanied by Kevin Devitt, the Kauai HYSA executive director.
Iseri-Carvalho said their journey started June 27 when they met other team members from across the country in Seattle, before heading to their first European destination, Iceland.
The group took advantage of sightseeing opportunities to the many unique places. None of the Kauai players had seen them in their lives.
Flying to Hamburg, Germany, the United States team joined other National Soccer Academy Danish players, training in Tonder, Denmark, with their new-found friends and players.
Following the preliminary training, the combined NSA team headed to Fredricksen, site for the Dana Cup competition where they experienced intense training from top level Danish and U.S.A. coaches at a training facility where they are boarded for the competition.
“The training sessions, sometimes upwards of six hours a day, can be very tiring,” said Iseri-Carvalho in an email. “It is made more tiring because it is a 12-hour time difference from Kauai. However, we get lots of fun by sightseeing, learning about new cultures and living independently with the foreign and other U.S.A. players.”
NSA, a premier academy which provides opportunities for players to mature and gain excellent experiences through competition and cultural exchanges in major events, nationally and internationally.
Keeping with this NSA mission, players were taken to Flensburg, Germany, and Skaagen, Denmark, to visit towns, eat different foods, learn about currency exchanges and hear the many languages spoken.
“These kids are getting a once in a lifetime experience,” said Devitt. “I’ve taken dozens of kids in the last decade, and still today, they remember vividly, their participation in these worldly events. We bring a lot of exposure to Kauai, and I’ve always been impressed with the talents of our kids.”
Opening ceremonies for the Dana Cup No. 1 started Monday and will be followed by the Gothia Cup starting Sunday.
“Many of our kids who have participated in the EuroTour have prospered on and off the field,” said Fred Hsu, the NSA director who has personally led several clinics for Kauai soccer players at Vidinha Stadium and Puhi Park. “These players have gone on to play college and professional soccer and have become coaches, teachers and executives. It is very important for the NSA that participants become an inspiration for others and continue giving back to the community.”
Visit www.nationalsocceracademy.com or www.worldyouthtournaments.com for more information.
• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.