By Coach Ferdi De Matthaeis
The IMG Academy soccer program U-17 boys were part of an unbelievable and unforgettable journey in Italy this past May.
The group left from Miami on May 10th and landed in Rome the following morning.
After visiting the Vatican and the Coliseum the group reached Lucera ( a medieval city from the 1200a.c.) where they stayed for 4 days.
The next day the team trained in the morning and that same evening played their first game of " Daunia Cup " tournament losing 3-1 to Manfredonia (u-18) team. The following day the team defeated Lucera (u-18) the hosting team by the score of 3-0 and on Saturday IMG lost to U.S. Foggia 3-1.
While in Lucera the group visited the ancient city's attractions: il Duomo, l'Anfitreatro, il Castello di Federico II. The group also visited Foggia -- a town nearby on their free time. Believe it or not, there wasn't much down time, with the players training, playing, traveling and doing their homework for two hours every day.
Rachel Disanto, an English teacher, also went along with the group with the intent of making sure that the students would apply themselves with their books and helping them up with their studies.
On Sunday the team went to Bari ( 2 hours south) and assisted at the Serie "A" match : Bari -Fiorentina. For most of the boys, it was been a great moment . The bus took the team right under the stadium where the teams were warming up and assisted at the game sitting next to the Fiorentina (u-18) team, our first opponent in the "citta' di Ostuni " tournament.
Sunday May 17th in the opening match of the tournament, IMG played against Fiorentina. The match was played in front of about 2000 people.
The IMG boys were fired up and even tough we lost 4-0, we played a very entertaining match. The score at the end of the first half was 0-0, a great accomplishment for our boys considering that Fiorentina played with the u-18s squad and that 3 of them already played pieces of matches in Serie "A".
The next morning the team participated at the press conference and presentation of the tournament that was held in the Conference hall of one of the local high school. All of the teams ( Parma, Cagliari, Salernitana, Bari, Lecce , brindisi and IMG) were there and all the players familiarized with each other. It was a great moment.
The same evening IMG tied Salenritana with the score of 3-3. What an incredible game. IMG went down three times and came back 3 times and at the end missed an open net to win the game. Our level of confidence level raised up. In our last game of the tournament, IMG Played Lecce. A victory would have guarantee us a semifinal spot.
In the 70th minute, Vincenzo Bernardo, one of our guest players scored after a brilliant set up. Lecce reacted and after 10 minutes scored to tie the match and end up winning 3-1. The boys were disappointed but at the same time proud for what they have accomplished
The following day the team departed for Rome stopping in Alberobello, a tourist city known for the 'trulli'and Bari and Molfetta for the last minute shopping.
Here 's the list of the IMG boys:
DANTE DE LUCA
JUAN PABLO VEGA
VINCENZO BERNARDO(GUEST PLAYER)
HEAD COACH: FERDI DE MATTHAEIS