Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pura Vida Futsal - John Leisman in Costa Rica

By John Leisman, Captain of the U.S. Youth Futsal Boys U18 team 
I was captain of the U.S. Youth Futsal U18 Boys this past week in Costa Rica. What a week and what an experience it has been! Both individually, as a team, and as a whole group, we have grown so much in such a short period of time.

Upon arrival, we were immediately thrown into a nation and culture that was completely foreign to many of us. With the help of local liaisons, our group was able to adapt to this change and immerse ourselves in the wonderful things that Costa Rica had to offer, including zip-lining and whitewater rafting in the heart of the rainforest. Such experiences were crucial in fostering relationships and helping our respective teams become a single unit.

Action on the court picked up where it had left off in the previous trip to Canada. With only one day of training, the coaches were able to mold a group of talented individuals into a functioning team. All teams opened the first day with convincing wins and that success carried on throughout the rest of the week. At various times on this trip, each individual was forced to adapt and learn on the fly. It was this ability to accept a new role or face a new challenge with total commitment that allowed our teams to have so much success.

As for what the future holds, it isn't hard for me to speculate. A brand, an identity, a culture for futsal is starting to develop within our country. I had the chance to discuss the impact it is bound to have with many people during the trip and I came to the same conclusion every time. What the average American yearns to see in soccer is brought to life in futsal. The game combines the sharp ball movement and explosive power that is found in basketball, the dynamic runs and tactical edge that is used in American football, as well as the frequent transitions of hockey that happen in the blink of an eye, all with the ball at one's foot.

I have seen the quantity of hours that so many members of the U.S. Youth Futsal organization have put in. I believe their passion and dedication to the game of futsal has ignited a spark that will only grow within our country. With that in mind, I look forward to seeing what will happen over the next five years and more.


Monday, August 3, 2015

Pura Vida Futsal - Felicia Knox in Costa Rica

By Felicia Knox, Captain of the U.S. Youth Futsal Girls U14 team
Pura Vida! One week ago while packing my bags I was wondering how my upcoming trip would compare to the Toronto, Canada trip last year? With it being such an amazing trip, I questioned how could the Costa Rica trip get any better?
When we arrived at the hotel after the long day of traveling we had a meeting letting us know what was going to happen this week. Coach Tozer was going through the schedule and showed all the teams a motivational video. I think it got the players excited to play! After he went through all the rules and expectations he let us know who was going to be the captains for each team and age group. As coach Tozer was calling the names I didn't know what to expect. As he came to the u14 girls I heard my name called I couldn't have been more excited to have the privilege to be the captain once again for the u14 girls team.

Tuesday July 28th was excursion day. The day was filled with great activities. We were able to go to a fruit stand and taste all of the bizarre fruits that were being sold; and after that we went zip-lining and whitewater rafting! Not only was it a good way to start off the trip but it was fantastic for team bonding. At the end of the trip I really thought this is what tied the team together and really got us to be able to play as a team and get to know each other as much as we could. 
On Thursday July 30th was the first game day. I didn't know what to expect. I remembered from last year that competition was really good. I had no idea what was coming, all I told myself was I guess I will just have to wait and see. Before our game we had the opportunity to visit a daycare right near the gym we played in. There we got to play soccer with the little kids for a bit before heading to the market where we got souvenirs for ourselves, friends and family back home. After buying a t-shirt we arrived back at the hotel and got ready for the game. I could tell everyone was a little nervous but also ready to play. After warming up and listening to the two national anthems the whistle was blown to start the game. We had a special play to start the game it was called "mango" we ran it just like Coach Ty asked and we scored in the first 5 seconds on the game. it was the best feeling ever! On Thursday the 30th - Saturday the Aug 1st, most of the players spent their days at the futsal court. While playing it was always fun to hear "USA! USA! USA!" chanted in the background along with all the students for the school there watching you play. It felt great to play in a full gym! After every game we would always get a pictures with the other team and socialize as best we could. They were all so welcoming and friendly. It was also really fun to interact with all of the students as we walked around their campus going to and from the buses. Costa Rica was a trip that I will always remember and I loved how we got to experience their culture hands-on, which was so amazing! I am not only honored to have been selected to represent USA for this trip but I was also able to do it along side my brother Roman who played on the U16 boys team. Not many siblings are this fortunate to share an experience like this together. A huge thank you goes out the amazing people that made this trip happen. GO USA!!!

Knox (left) with Annie Stauffer and Tiffany Bernot

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Pura Vida Futsal - Ashley Johnson in Costa Rica

By Ashley Johnson, member of the U.S. Youth Futsal Girls U18 team

Today, with the U.S. Youth Futsal girls U18 team I got a chance to play against the Costa Rica Women's National Futsal Team. It was a really great experience. Even though we lost, it was a really good learning opportunity for myself and the other girls on our team. 

One girl specifically, named Emily Rollender, who has become a really great friend of mine, got the chance to be the first and only American ‘’woman” to score against another national team. It was also a very physical game. In the beginning we struggled, but as the game continued, we rose to the physical challenge and put up a good fight. After the game we came back to the hotel only to sit around for a couple hours. 

We finally took off for our game at 2:30. Everyone was focused and ready to play. We warmed up, walked out, and started to play the game. It was obvious in the beginning of the game that we were going to have control of the possession during the game. Even though we scored 12 goals, (I scored 4 of the 12 goals), we played one of the best games all week. We actually started to play more as a team because we had experience with each other now. 

After our game, we stayed and watched the U18 boys team play. I was cheering my heart out for them even though they lost. We returned to the hotel and had a goodbye meeting. All of the coaches stood up and each said some thank you’s not only to the players but the parents and people behind the scenes as well. When the meeting was done, everyone thanked the coaches, took pictures with each other, and said their own goodbyes to different people. I am going to miss all the people I have met on this trip but will remain in contact with all the friends I made. This trip has been so amazing and I cannot thank all the people

Johnson (left) with Emily Rollender

Friday, July 31, 2015

Pura Vida Futsal - Jordan Hindmarsh in Costa Rica

By Jordan Hindmarsh, member of the U.S. Youth Futsal Girls U16 team

Today I woke up at 7:45 to eat breakfast and have a team meeting. Coach Tozer talked about different defensive and offensive tactics, and different things he and other coaches, as well, noticed in the games yesterday that we could easily fix. 
After the meeting our bus left at 10:30 for our second game. We played well and started building the three in the back just like the coaches expected. After our game, we stayed and watch all the rest of the games. The u18 boys' game was my favorite because it was so intense. In between games, probably about 20 different boys and girls asked me to take pictures with them. There was actually a group of 10 guys who asked, and when I agreed, all the other guys nearby joined in the photo.

Hindmarsh (right) with Brooke Shatney

Pura Vida Futsal - Alec Bakkeby in Costa Rica

By Alec Bakkeby, Captain of the U.S. Youth Futsal Boys U16 team
Today was a day to remember to say the least. It began when we played the Santa Ana Futsal Club and beat them 14-2. It is always a great experience to represent your country alongside some of the best players in it. However, this game was just the beginning of my eventful day.  
After I came out of the locker room, I was surprised to find a few Costa Rican girls waiting to take a picture with me. This was probably the first time a "fan" that I didn't know has given me some sort of special attention. As I walked outside to get a drink at the snack stand a group of little kids were talking to me in Spanish and then invited me and some of my teammates to play in their pick up game. 
Later that night after watching some games Coach Keith Tozer asked me if I would like to play in the 18s game. It was a great experience playing with the older kids and a very intense game. We ended up pulling off a close 4-2 win.

Bakkeby (lower right) with fans from Colegio Santa Ana

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pura Vida Futsal - Alex Mendez in Costa Rica

By Alex Mendez, Assistant Captain of the U.S. Youth Futsal Boys U18 team

Hello my name is Alex Mendez I'm 17 years old and I am the assistant captain of the Boys U18 team. I'm from Grand Rapids, Michigan where I play futsal with ABK Futsal Academy. 

I will be talking about the game day #1 in this blog. To start the schedule we got up at 8 am to eat breakfast. After that we went back to the room to relax and listen to some music and it was time to start focusing up for the first national game. It finally was time to depart to the futsal facility at 11:30 am. We warmed up and the intensity went up. Throughout the game I had four goals with the help of my teammates. We worked very hard to get the result and the game ended 8-2 in our favor. 

After the match was finished it was time to head back to the hotel to cool down in the pool with the rest of the team. After that we waited until 5 pm to eat dinner. As soon as dinner was finished we headed back to the facility to go watch the girls get their wins.

Mendez scored four in his opening match

Pura Vida Futsal - Tziarra King in Costa Rica

By Tziarra King, Captain of the U.S. Youth Futsal Girls U18 team
Our fourth day in Costa Rica, and first match day, was certainly very action packed!
It all began with an early rise and the breakfast of champions to prepare us for our first match later in the day. After an early 8 am departure we arrived at the CTP Lindora stadium where we briefly watched the U14 boys play and score a quick goal as we chanted "USA USA USA." We then left and went directly across the street to a childcare center where we met the most adorable children and had a blast. Seeing their faces light up with excitement as we took them outside to play soccer in the yard has definitely been the highlight of my trip thus far. After a few hugs and high fives good bye we made our way back to the bus to start our next adventure. 
On the bus on our way to the market near the national museum we sang along on to songs like "Party in the USA" and "Hollaback Girl." When we arrived at the market it was a very memorable experience. There were tons of vendors selling their beautifully crafted jewelry and other Costa Rican souvenirs; it was a tourist's paradise. 
Fast forwarding a few hours, meals, and naps later into the day, it was almost game time and the nerves were starting to act up. We knew nothing about our opponent and as captain the pressure was really on to preform well. We got into the locker room and geared up as we talked about strategy and our goals for the game. Although we had a bumpy start to the game, being down 4-1 in the first half, we came together as a team and corrected our flaws to win the game 9-5. It was a great way to kick off the next few days of challenging games ahead of us. It was awesome seeing our team work out our issues on the court and start to build a rhythm. 
Overall day four of Costa Rica was definitely one to remember. I can't wait to see what the rest of the trip has to offer. Go USA! 

King (right) with Lisette and Elysa Virella

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pura Vida Futsal - Pablo Blanco in Costa Rica

By Pablo Blanco, member of the U.S. Youth Futsal Boys U16 team

Today started with waking up and going down to the lobby and eating a good breakfast with my team. After breakfast we ready for our first practice session. We left the hotel and went to the place where we practice and the main focus was defending. The practice was intense and our team started to look good! 

After the practice we went back to hotel and ate lunch and then everyone got some rest for the next practice session. When ready all the players and some parents got on the bus and we left to another futsal court. As we approach the venue we noticed that it's was actually a school. We got off the bus all the students of the school was staring at us but we had to act professional and not do anything that makes us look bad. 

The practice session focused on attacking. During the practice we played the u18s and we technically beat them so now we have bragging rights. After practice we left to the hotel and everyone got ready for dinner. 

Later that night we all went to the nice restaurant.  When we walked in there was a view of the city and it was beautiful. We all sat down waiting for the food. The food came it was all delicious then all of the sudden a band stared to play music and some guys in costumes started dancing. It didn't take long for every one else to jump in and start dancing. Every one was having so much fun! 

After all the fun, we went back to the hotel and on the way we had a sing along. Everyone on the bus was singing "Baby" by Justin Bieber and it was silly but fun. As soon as we got back to the hotel, Coach Hawk had a talk with us saying the we need to get in the right mind set for tomorrow because all six teams need to get a win.
Blanco (right) with Jeovany Garcia, Ariana Garcia and Alex Mendez

Pura Vida Futsal - Hannah, Ainsley, Rachel & Lili in Costa Rica

By Hannah Bebar, Ainsley Ahmadian, Rachel Schleicher and Lili Silva, members of the U.S. Youth Futsal Girls U14 team

Today, July 29th 2015, in San Jose, Costa Rica we had our first training sessions on foreign grounds.  

We woke up really early (considering our usual wake up time in the summer of 
11:30)! Once we arrived at the school it felt like the previous day when we hit our first rapid while white water rafting. The team was filled with anxious excitement and nervousness upon entering the gym. Our nature experiences helped us connect both on and off the field. It was odd for the students at Santa Ana school to see us outsiders walking through their campus. On top of our nerves there were many students watching us play, but overall the training sessions went well. 

When we arrived back at the hotel we settled down and relaxed in preparation for our first game tomorrow in Costa Rica.  Soon after showering and cleaning up we got onto another bus too take us to our dinner in the mountains. To end the night of wonderful eating, everyone danced along with a band! It couldn't have been a better way to end the night. On our way home most people slept because everyone was exhausted from the hectic day.

Goodnight Costa Rica.

Shelby Helton, Lili Silva, Hannah Bebar & Tiffany Bernot

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Pura Vida Futsal - Emma Ramagnano in Costa Rica

By Emma Ramagnano, member of the U.S. Youth Futsal Girls U16 team
Today we went on a trip to Pozo Azul. We went whitewater rafting and also went ziplining in the rainforest. 
Throughout the day, I was able to connect with my teammates and learn more about each one of them. We had a blast, while making so many new memories. The first activity we did as a team was whitewater rafting. On the whole bus ride there, a couple other girls and myself were hesitant about the idea of rafting. We all literally thought we were going to die, but it turned out to be the highlight and the best part of my day. Going down the rapids was so thrilling and electrifying! 
My team/boat, also known as "equipo de tigre", was considered the party boat. We were the loudest, most craziest group out on the river. Half way through, we stopped in a calm water area to snack on pineapple and swim. Afterwards we were back on the rapids for more fun. Once rafting ended, we took a bus back to the main facility, where we would attend the next activity, ziplining. 
However, white water rafting was so much fun and pleasurable, ziplining wasn't able to meet the standards. We went from tree to tree and saw beautiful scenery. Also, the cables were leaking some sort of oil, so it would get all over everyone's face and clothing. Even though my clothing was ruined, I had a great time with all my new friends and teammates. 
I hope that all the team bonding activities that we did today will really pay off through our connection on and off the field. 
Ramagnano (second from right) with (from left) Mikayla Kappes, Amber McCorkle, Lauryn Oishi, Ashley Johnson and Alexa Gardner

Pura Vida Futsal - Yang Scofano in Costa Rica

By Yang Scofano II, Assistant Captain of the U.S. Youth Futsal Boys U14 team

Today I woke up at 5:30 and went downstairs for breakfast. I had eggs and fruits. After breakfast I waited in the lobby with some friends and waited for the bus. Once we got on the bus we headed toward our Pozo Azul, a tourist attraction in the rainforest north of San Jose. The boys started with zip line and the girls went to whitewater rafting. 

The ziplining was pretty fun and we got to see some bullet ants whose sting hurts more than a wasp's. We made it to the end of the nine zip lines and looped around and made it back to the beginning. The last zip line was my favorite. After that we waited for the girls to get back from whitewater rafting because they took forever. The girls eventually arrived and we made our way towards the river. 
Honestly, whitewater rafting was the best by far we went on some crazy waves and one man went overboard and we had to get him back in the raft; but for the rest of the ride it was bumpy but everyone stayed in the raft. When we got to shore we had some really good pineapple and got on a bus to head back to the main area. 

When we got there we ate some lunch, sat around and talked, the headed back to the hotel. We made it and we went straight and got dinner. After that I went into the pool with some friends and it was freezing so we didn't stay very long. Finally we hung out on the first floor and ate pizza and talked. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Pura Vida Futsal - Igor Ibrahimkadic in Costa Rica

By Igor Ibrahimkadic, member of the U.S. Youth Futsal Boys U18 team

I began my morning at 3:30 am to board onto a flight at the Louisville airport. I had to make a stop in Miami to switch over to begin my trek to San Jose, Costa Rica. I arrived in Costa Rica and was awaited by Coach Otto Orf. I was the first of all players to arrive at the airport. 

Many other players arrived and we took a bus to the Quality inn hotel. I checked in quickly with the coaches and received my key to the room. I waited in the room until my roommates arrived! 

We had dinner at 5:30-the food was great. Afterwards, we had a group meeting with the coaching staff about our week. Then we received our kits and took pictures. 

So far all teams are getting along very well. I'm excited to play and represent my country. Tomorrow is team bonding -- we are going ziplining and whitewater rafting. Wake up call is 5:45 am and breakfast begins at 6. Goodnight.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Youth National Team Takeover: Madallyn Peveler

Happy New Year! My name is Madallyn Peveler and I play pivo for the U.S. Youth Futsal U16 Girls National Team

It has been a great week for the U.S. Youth Futsal National Teams. This trip to Canada is a major step in sharing the game of futsal with our country, and the four teams made a great showing. Each team played with heart and showed a true passion for the beautiful game of futsal. Speaking of beautiful, Toronto is an amazing city to visit! Along with its many restaurants and shopping, this trip provided us with the opportunity to play in the brand new Pan American Sports Centre. The facility was top notch and we received a warm welcome each day.

The first day was a great opportunity to get to know our teammates and coaches. When I arrived at our hotel, The Ramada, I got to meet my roommates: Raleigh, Riley, and Amber. We had a team meeting with our coaches and reviewed the schedule for the week. It was obvious a great deal of planning and effort went into this trip to make it a great experience for all players. You could feel the excitement in the room!​ We had been waiting months for this trip and couldn't wait for the chance to step on the court.

On Sunday, each team trained with their coach to go over strategy and get a feel for playing with our teammates, who came from every corner of the country. The training was very intense and helped us prepare for the upcoming matches with Coach Tozer and the other U.S. coaches helping to improve our knowledge of the game.

Matches began the next day! I think it was an amazing experience to be able to walk out in front of a crowd with USA across our chests and hear our national anthem and the Canadian anthem play. That is a memory I won't ever forget. Our first match went pretty well. We came out with a strong win against Canada with a score of 7-3. This was the very first win ever for our U16 national team. Our second match, we came out strong with a 5-1 lead in the first half, but a break down in the second half led to a tough 7-6 loss. However, this inspired our team to come back and prove that the USA never lets a loss keep it down. We came back with a 15-0 shutout against the Lady Futsalers. This was the first shut out of the week. After every game Coach Jason Miller had our team give ourselves grades for several different aspects of the game and Coach Ty Stauffer shared his observations.   Overall, I think this week was a great opportunity to play internationally as well as a learning experience for our team.

Wednesday was a very special day for all, since all the teams came out to support each other. The atmosphere was exciting as we screamed out chants to support whichever team was playing. The entire section of fans and players shouting, "I Believe That We Will Win" and "USA" was so awesome! Each team came out with a win on that final day of competition, which was a huge accomplishment and so fun to watch and be a part of.

Over the course of this week, social media has been a huge part of spreading the word about futsal and what went on here in Canada. Coach Daniela as well as parents and players tweeted, posted pictures on Instagram, and updated Facebook statuses to show everyone this historic event for the game of futsal and the USA. It allowed our family and friends and other futsal programs to see what was taking place here.

Some of my favorite memories include playing in our intense matches, going out to eat with the team, watching hours of The Kardashians with my roommates Raleigh and Riley while laughing hysterically and the farewell dinner at the Pickle Barrel!

All in all, this trip is one I will never forget!  I will definitely remember it as one of the best futsal experiences of my life. I would like to thank all the coaches for making this trip possible and helping me continue to play the game I love at a high level. Also, thank you to all my teammates for making this week unforgettable. Playing for the U.S. Youth Futsal U16 Girls National Team was a true honor and something I hope to continue in the future.

Happy New Year, safe travels and best wishes for  2015!

Madallyn Peveler is a member of the U.S. Youth Futsal U16 girls national team and a resident of Kentucky.

Madalyn Peveler