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Thursday, 20 August 2015 10:40

Soccer Diplomacy

By | Sports
Under the watchful eye of Coach Rob Kelly, the Saratoga Wilton 12U Soccer team works on their skills in preparation for their friendly matches in Ireland Under the watchful eye of Coach Rob Kelly, the Saratoga Wilton 12U Soccer team works on their skills in preparation for their friendly matches in Ireland Photo Provided

Saratoga Wilton Soccer Club to Play Friendly Matches in Ireland


WILTON— This month, some young boys who are members of the Saratoga Wilton 12 and under Soccer Club, along with their families, will have the experience of a lifetime as they embark on a trip to Ireland. They will be playing a series of friendly matches against boys their age near Galway and Wexford, arranged by the boys’ Coach, Rob Kelly.


Fourteen boys and their families – a total of 48 people, including coaches, will be making the trip. In addition to the matches, the party will also be escorted by Coach Kelly, a native of Dublin, Ireland, around points of interest along the southern end of the island through Cork and concluding in Dublin. 


Coach Kelly, who came to the U.S. in 2012 and now works for GLOBALFOUNDRIES, recalled that the idea came about in jest. “We were at a coaches and booster’s meeting last September, and the President of our Booster Club threw out the idea as a joke. But the more I thought about it; it seemed like something worth looking into. Running it past the parents, I got such good feedback that I started to look into it sincerely.” 


He soon learned it serious undertaking. In addition to the logistical challenges of taking a group on a long international trip, the amount to fly, lodge and feed one child, in addition to other expenses such as transportation while in Ireland, would cost about $3,000 each. Fortunately, the community provided a great deal of help to make the trip a reality. 


Nearly two-dozen businesses and individuals bought banners for display for the spring and early summer season at the Club’s home pitches at Gavin Park in Wilton. Also, Allerdice, Applebee’s, Bonacio Construction, Dr. Singh, Hoffman’s Car Wash and Wal-Mart made donations or afforded community based fundraising opportunities to further support the team’s travel expenses. In all, about $15,000 was raised to assure that every child on the squad who needed assistance to make the trip received it. 


“The things that have stood out to me through the planning of this whole experience has been the commitment of the parents to make this opportunity a reality, and the generosity of community businesses, friends and families,” said Coach Kelly. “I could not have envisioned such dedication from so many people. Bringing a team over 3,000 miles away is not just an amazing experience for the boys and their families, but it will be an honor for me to introduce them to my home country.”


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