DOWNEY -Downey AYSO hosted soccer players from St. Vincent's Academy from New South Wales Australia last month.St. Vincent Academy has been providing college preparatory schooling for over 155 years and was founded in 1858 by the Sisters of Charity whose original origins were from Dublin, Ireland. Head Coach Mark Bradley traveled to the States with 39 students and five chaperons for a one week visit in Los Angeles and then a second week stay in Honolulu. Of the 39 students visiting the U.S., 17 were competing in a dance contest in Los Angeles as well as playing in soccer matches in California and Hawaii. Downey AYSO was selected by Travel International Sports (the travel agent for the Aussies while in the U.S.) to host two nights of "friendly games" against high school-level players from the Downey AYSO fall program. Opening ceremonies were conducted Sept. 27 at Discovery Sports Complex in Downey where the Aussies were welcomed by Downey Councilman Alex Saab, assistant AYSO commissioner Ramon Aguilar and Miss Teen California McKenzie Jackson. Flag bearers presented the Australian and United States flags followed by the singing of the national anthems for both countries. In the first match, Coach Win Powell's U19 team played the Aussie varsity team to a 3-3 tie. Coach Oscar Hernandez's U16 team defeated the Aussies' JV team, 4-0. Following the games, players and coaches enjoyed a taco dinner prepared by Letty Calvillo. Many of the Aussie players had never had a taco before and said they greatly enjoyed the experience. Aussie players and coaches also toured the Columbia Memorial Space Center where they learned about Downey's history with aeronautics and the space program. The Sept. 30 matches were played at the Downey High School football field and started with Coach Jorge Ramirez's U16 team playing against the Aussie JV team and winning 6-0. In a very competitive and spirited match, Coach Robert Correa's team was able to hold on to a 2-0 lead after the Aussie's came back with a strong attack in the second half. Monday's games were highlighted by the presence of Coach Tom Sermanni from the U.S. Women's National Team. Coach Sermanni previously coached pro teams in Australia and has ties to a few players from the St. Vincent Academy. The evening started with a question and answer session with Coach Sermanni, who also took pictures with many of the players and parents in attendance. Following the games, all players from the Downey AYSO and Aussie teams enjoyed a pizza party provided by Shakey's. Closing ceremonies included Coach Bradley providing the Downey coaches with soccer balls signed by all of the players as well as many hugs and fond farewells between everyone involved with this event. In a statement, Downey AYSO thanked Sonya Meacham and Kevin Ellis from the city of Downey's Parks and Recreation staff "for their support of this event."
********** Published: Oct. 10, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 26