Foothills Soccer Club and the PVSC Exiles after their Sunday game at Malaga Cove in Palos Verdes Estates. (Photo by Lloyd Hamilton).
The youth soccer community in Southern California remains relatively close-knit, self-reliant and always eager to embrace the international nature of the game.
So it shouldn’t surprise when a story about the disappointment of a young Canadian soccer team due to train at the David Beckham Academy in Carson this month (who read about its closure via an earlier article I wrote) received an outpouring of offers of games, practices and the like from throughout the area.
A team from as far away as Orange County called eager to help, as did the likes of Mike Riley, AYSO 34 commissioner in Redondo Beach and Robbie Mills and Brian Boswell of Rolling Hills Estates-based FRAM and Ajax America Women..
Tournaments and scrimmages against local clubs and coaching clinics were all offered.
(“We may not have the Beckham name, but the coach/coaches who would conduct the clinics are better qualified than the Beckham Academy coaches,” opined Boswell.)
Eventually, the folks from Calgary’s Foothills Soccer Club accepted the kind invitation of the PVSC Exiles and in particular Coach Joe Flanagan and his wife, Julie.
The couple gave up a long weekend to hang out with folks they’d never met, Joe (also coach of the national championship winning program at Cal State Dominguez Hills in Carson) provided coaching sessions at the former David Beckham Academy field at Home Depot Center on campus and in Palos Verdes Estates at Malaga Cove.
Chivas USA came through with more than 20 free tickets to a game at Home Depot Center, the Galaxy came up with some free hats and T-shirts for the boys and the Flanagan’s also hosted a practice and pizza party contributed by the folks at the South Coast Soccer City futsal facility in Torrance.
“It’s been awesome really,” said Lloyd Hamilton, the Calgary team’s coach. “There was a great response from folks here to help us out – Joe Flanagan has really taken care of the lads with some top notch training and some games.”
Lloyd’s wife, Natasha, the team manager, who made the trip despite giving birth to the couple’s newest addition to the family five weeks earlier, said the turn of events made the trip even better than originally envisioned, as the team made friends and sampled the local soccer culture.
“It has been more than we could have asked for,” she added. “These people have been really gracious.”
Classy move by PVSC and the Flanagan’s and the local soccer community in general to turn a negative situation into a positive.
“We had 3 great days with them and are sad to see them leave,” said Julie Flanagan. “This is a story where people came together to turn an unfortunate situation into life-long memories for young footballers.”
The Foothills lads pose at the HDC with Chivas USA play by play man Christian Miles.