Every summer millions of families spend their time around HOT, HUMID, STICKY soccer fields to watch their children play in summer soccer tournaments. These tournaments are so called "summer select tournaments", because they are supposed to be played by mix select area teams comprised out of the best soccer players. At least that is the way it used to be, because now all it takes is for a family to play and they can be on one o those teams. No tryouts to choose the best players. The worst part is that these so called tournaments are run and played on summer weekends that take up every day, all day, every weekend of July and part of August leaving no time for families to go to the beach or visit resorts or other fun places. Now, we understand that for he most dedicated youth soccer players and families that can be fun. But after years of summer select tournaments the competition has been nothing short or average.
There is an old saying; A week's of international soccer training is worth years of US training. The possibility of a youth soccer player being able to train in a soccer culture country, play in international soccer tournaments, experience new cultures and discover new things is second to none. Add the fact that the whole family can enjoy activities in an international setting and it is a once in a lifetime experience. We encourage you to spent some time a research international sports tours and see the great benefits.
This summer, 2018, is a Soccer World Cup summer. It is that special event that occurs every four years to capture the world's attention, create new stars and establish new soccer cultures as the standard for the rest of the world to follow. The first ever World Cup was played in 1930, and ever since, it has been a worldwide spectacle. Every young soccer player who is old enough to know of the World Cup has fantasized about playing in the World Cup, no matter how short-lived the fantasy might be. The truth is, in order to achieve this dream, young soccer players need to take an active role in developing their skills, push themselves past the every day player limits, sacrifice, cultivate relationships with coaches and the international soccer community, and plunge themselves in the soccer culture.
One way to accomplish all these goals is by taking an international soccer tour. One of the best places to do this is in Portugal.
Portugal has emerged as a Soccer Nation that consistently produces top players. Like most other countries in Europe, and, in fact, the world, soccer in Portugal is glorified, competitive, and a way to relate to just about any stranger on the street. It is tattooed in everyone's soul no matter age and gender and right into the cultural crust of the nation.
Aspiring young soccer stars would benefit greatly from a guided tour of the IBERCUP. The IBERCUP is one of the World's premier youth competitions and features five nights of soccer and socialization. Here, young soccer enthusiasts and players from all over the world compete against one another within their own age bracket in a minimum four games for victory and pride.The IberCup is one of the largest International Youth Football Tournaments / Soccer Tournaments around the World. Play against the best Football Academy Clubs / Soccer Academy Clubs in different locations (Europe, Asia and USA).
Young soccer players will learn skills that extend far beyond soccer moves, although competing in another country will certainly sharpen their gameplay dramatically. Beyond soccer, they will get the unique opportunity to live in the folds of a foreign culture while meeting other like-minded international soccer players who are there for the exact same reason. This particular tour will extend an additional 5 days with other activities and cultural experience past the IBERCUP competition.
Just the fact that young soccer players will be exposed to other foreign languages, foods, and travel are enough to make the experience worthwhile. Now add to that the chance to do what they love, play their favorite sport, visit new places, amusement parks, and participate in daily planned events, and you have a recipe for a deeply exhilarating and enriching vacation that these young soccer players will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
To achieve your dreams, you must be ready to go to the ends of the earth. As a parent, you must be ready to do the same for your children. If they have an earnest love for soccer, there’s no better place to take them in preparation for a driven and successful career in professional soccer.
As a youth soccer player growing up and playing in the dirt fields of Greece, at the time hard to find a grass soccer field in the early 70’s, intense, fun memories come to mind as I reflect back. Thoughts of playing a game anywhere we could find space. Thoughts of using large rocks as goals since most dirt fields had no soccer goals, or memories of playing in those dirt fields and having the men at the nearby cafes cheering for us while drinking their coffee and then calling us over to comment on our game. Those same men analyzing the games and commenting on which kid had the goods to play for the local senior team someday. The passion of soccer was and still is part of everyday life in most cultures. In Greece all people talk about is politics and soccer. Those memories will stay with me forever! I later immigrated to the US and went to high school and college. Sometime around the end of my freshman year my dad took me back to Greece to tryout for a pro team. After getting an offer, I decided to stay there and play. That is when I experienced the magical world of a pro athlete. That was in the early 80s and although things have changed quite a bit since then, one thing that has not changed is the passion other countries have for the sport of soccer. Another piece of a pro athlete’s life that I had the privilege to experience was the structure and planning that every team has as far as daily activities as well as the planning of their traveling itinerary, not to mention visiting different places, seeing all the many things other places offer as well as their culture. This is the primary reason why I looked to develop an experience for US sport soccer athletes. I wanted them to experience playing the sport they love in an environment other than the US local tournaments or leagues. For them to have the opportunity to train and compete against other international players and coaches. To witness the passion that lies across the world of this beautiful game called soccer. To be able to travel and live the life of a pro athlete. To experience different cultures and discover all the different things this wonderful world has to offer.
My first international tour trip package was created to take a U16 boys team and compete in the Mediterraneo Cup in Spain, as well as visit the cities of Madrid and Barcelona, where we toured both Madrid’s and Barcelona’s stadiums, trained with Atletico Madrid coaches and off course discovered the beauties of these cities through bike tours. Staying in hotels close to the beach was the entertainment value as well as visiting water parks and other local sites. All these things I experienced this time from a coach’s perspective, experiencing the thrill of international competition and seeing the excitement of my U16 boys team as they took to the field for their first match against a Scotish team. It was incredibly rewarding!
As a college coach, youth soccer coach, soccer club director of coaching, director of a futsal league and other sports ventures, it was a natural progression to create this next step and to offer the opportunity for individual players, teams or groups to travel to Europe. The formation of TravelPlay is an extension of SOCCERSKILLZ international tours. We have partner with some of the biggest and most reliable sports travel companies to bring the ultimate sports travel experience to the young athletes.
Seeing soccer players from all across the world come together, teams of all ages and backgrounds shaking hands and posing together for “selfies” at the end of matches, displaying their national pride with chants and flags during tournament opening ceremonies and many other memories stand out. This summer, players and family members will travel with TravelPlay to train, compete and discover new cultures in Spain and Portugal. They will have a fantastic time and come back with incredibly enduring memories and friendships.
Following are a few reasons why every youth sport soccer athlete should have the opportunity to travel overseas:
1. Expanding Their Horizons: The world is huge with endless things to discover and experience, which you can learn many incredibly valuable lessons! Travel is one of the best and most enjoyable, rewarding experience in life, and combining it with playing one’s favorite sport not only will it spark the interest in young sport soccer athletes, but it is a great gift as well.
2. Learn to Appreciate Diversity: While Traveling across the world, young athletes will see, hear and experience a lifestyle that may be very different from their own. New climates, foods, languages, customs, architecture and art are among the many valuable “firsts” to which they may be exposed.
3. Develop a Different Perspective for their Sport: Almost every US youth athlete has experienced and played their sport from a local town club, state or even U.S. perspective, but very few have experienced it from an international perspective. Meeting players from different backgrounds, with different abilities, playing styles and even enthusiastic fans is a great opportunity to develop a greater appreciation for a sport.
4. Bond as a Team: The instant a team walks through an airport in matching warmups a lot of eyes will focus on them. People naturally will be curious to see who is travelling, where are they from and what event are they attending. It puts the team in the spotlight and exposes them to excitement, expectation and scrutiny. People are always asking team members or the entire team for photos which gives the entire group an opportunity to discover how pros travel. Sharing a road trip with teammates brings so many learning opportunities
5. Create Lifetime Memories Beyond Sport: You may think that the most talked about memory of an international tour would be the game versus that Italian team, or the finals the team played versus the Dutch team or any other sport specific detail. The most rewarding part of organizing international tours is bumping into players and families that may have traveled prior with TravelPlay, and the first thing they will mention is: “Remember that trip we took to…?” The moments are fleeting but the memories last forever!
Whatever your interest, motivation and goals for travelling on an international tour, you can be sure that TravelPlay will customize the perfect tour to meet your expectations!
As the title of this blog posts asks, I am sure a lot of people are asking themselves what are the benefits, if any, of sports tours and specifically soccer tours? Is it just another money grabbing proposition? Another way for companies to suck more money out of sports families? Do we really need these tours and how are they going to make my child a better athlete, player or person?
Well let's just start from the basics. During mostly the summer months, since that is when most tours accur, the norm has been for years now that summer select programs compete so players that would like to play during the summer months can. Years back the summer select teams were made up by the best local players and would tryout, make the select teams and go on to compete in these tournaments. Nowadays though things have changed a bit. There are hardly any tryouts any more and any player that will pay the fee can play summer select. So it really is not a true skill based select team other than you have different players from different teams come together because they want to play rather than skill level. Often you also have teams just enter the tournaments that are not a select team but rather just a club or academy team that would like to play during the summer. Therefore the allure of a select team based on skill is gone. Now lets factor in the cost. Most programs with entree fee traveling and lodging can run up to $ 1000.00. And off course let's not forget the fact that parents and siblings are stuck on the sidelines every weekend for a month during the summer season when they could be at the beach or doing something else.
So, now here comes a new concept. A player or a team or even a group can play its soccer overseas, Europe or South America, experience a new exciting way to play soccer, discover new cultures and even make it a family vacation. TravelPlay Soccer Tours make it a priority to show players and sports soccer families how the pros are living their life through soccer. TravelPlay not only offers soccer tournament tours and or soccer training program tours to Europe or South America, but it also allows the players and families to experience new cultures through travel. Individual players, groups or teams can experience how a professional athlete travels the world, how everything is planned out for them, visit professional stadiums and play or train in them, compete against other teams from different countries, sightsee new countries, and experience new cultures. Families can travel along with their athletes and make it a family vacation. Separate itineraries can be created while athletes compete or train. This new experience offers new possibilities for a great way to enjoy one's sport while discovering new cultures. High Schools and Colleges organize educational tours because they understand the benefits of traveling, discovering and experiencing new cultures for their students. The same applies for the sports international tours as TravelPlay organizes balanced itineraries that not only serve the sport element but that of the educational and entertainment element as well.
TravelPlay makes it easy for one to organize, plan and pay for these tours as it offers an electronic instalment payment system. It also offers a free fundraising option to help with expenses. All participants are covered under a specialized protection plan, granting them health coverage overseas and trip cancellation/interruption protection in case of illness. All participants payments are protected. As part of the AIFS group, we carry a $50 million general liability insurance policy, as well as a $1 million indemnity bond with the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) as part of their Travelers Assistance Program. These are just s few of the many benefits offered by TravelPlay as part of their international sports soccer tours.
TravelPlay is the brainchild of founder Niko Alexopoulos who was born in the sport of soccer since his dad was a professional goalkeeper. Niko also played a few years in Greece as a pro and got to experience the lifestyle of a pro soccer player. He came to realize what a great benefit it is to be able to travel, play and explore other cultures through the game of soccer. This is why TravelPlay is the perfect way to explore sports soccer tours and have players play their favorite sports while experiencing the lifestyle of a professional athlete and discover the beauty of other cultures and their passion for soccer.