April 30th, Waltham, MA, 2019; Seven GPS teams returned to the United States on Easter Sunday following a week long stay in Spain where they competed against some of Europe’s top clubs in Mundialito 2019.
The seven teams that travelled consisted of players from a variety of GPS locations across New England, New York and California.
The beaches of the Golden Coast, dubbed that for the shine of its sand in the morning sun, usually captivates locals and tourists alike. For one week a year however the beautiful sandy beaches give way to the Beautiful Game when over 300 teams from across 50 countries compete in one of the most historic youth soccer events in the world, Mundialito 2019.
GPS was represented by at least one team in each age group at the event, which is open to 2011 to 2006, except the 2009 bracket where two competed.
The competition’s format consists of a group stage and a knockout stage. The group stage draw ensures that every group has a minimum of one top European club, giving each team a chance to rub shoulders with players from the likes of Juventus and Atletico Madrid.
GPS teams had the privilege to compete against both Girona and Sporting CP at 2011, FC Porto at 2010, Girona and Olympique Lyon at 2009, Steaua Bucharest at 2008, Juventus at 2007 and Atletico Madrid at 2006.
The 2010 GPS team made it all the way to the quarter finals of their age group before being stopped by La Liga side Girona FC. The 2011 team won their opening knockout game by an impressive 12-1 scoreline before suffering heartbreak in a tightly contested 1-0 loss.
"If I was 9 years-old this would have been the greatest experience of my life to date," said Dave Walsh "Playing against Europe's elite academies would have been a dream come true."
Besides playing a friendly against American competition prior to the start of the tournament, each team played exclusively against sides from outside of the United States. With over 50 countries represented at the event, players were introduced to a variety of cultures from around the globe.
Multiple off-field activities added to the cultural experience for the players including a trip to Barcelona to see the historic Nou Camp home of FC Barcelona. Players and parents were also encouraged to spend one of their off days exploring the historic city of Barcelona where they saw historic monuments such as the Columbus Monument on Las Ramblas.
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