Dereham Education and Soccer Academy (DESA – a partnership between Dereham Sixth Form College and Dereham Town Football Club) returned to UK soil as Las Vegas U19 player Showcase champions last Monday. The team began their 12 day tour to the United States in Las Vegas and stayed in the fabulous Luxor Hotel. Whilst in Vegas the team took part in a Showcase Tournament where top scouts from US College programmes scout for talent. DESA had a 100% win record and topped off the tournament with an emphatic 5-1 win. In addition to 5 students already committed to deals in the USA for next season there was interest in our players from top NCAA Division 1 schools.
Captain Will Sainsbury Logan and his team are the first group of DESA students to win the Showcase Tournament. “It’s a different style of play in the US”, he explains, “and the conditions were difficult to play in and because of this it makes the win feel even more special for the group.” DESA Coach Tom Parke said “The boys were a credit to the sixth form. Their preparation and dedication in between matches as well as their performance on the pitch was exceptional. We are all so proud of the group.” As a reward for their attitude and behaviour the boys were given a ride around Las Vegas in a stretch hummer and visited the Stratosphere.
After Vegas the team travelled to the beautiful San Diego where they spent 3 nights. During their time here the boys watched the USA national team play in the World Baseball Series at the famous Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres. They also received an exciting tour of the world-class University of San Diego where they also played a fixture against NCAA Division 1 outfit, USD Toreros. On their last day they relaxed at the beautiful Kate Sessions Park. Academy Manager Lee Perry highlights the importance of the experience: “It’s a massive opportunity for our learners to gain cultural experience and to develop their educational and football skills.”
DESA’s last stop included 3 nights in Santa Monica where they stayed a stone’s throw from the famous beach and pier. During their time in California they had a beach day, visited Universal Walk as well as the world-famous Wild Card Boxing Gym and took a bus tour of Hollywood. The boys were treated to NBA basketball tickets at the Staples Centre and watched the LA Lakers play the Milwaukee Bucks.
To finish their tour the group had a stadium tour of the StubHub Centre – the same location in which they met Steven Gerrard last year. Once again they had a top class fixture against LA Galaxy Academy on their phenomenal pitches outside the stadia. Dereham First Team Manager Matt Henman stated that: “Having performed so well against their Academy team last year, and helping them out with players for Steven Gerrard’s coaching session, LA Galaxy again afforded us the privilege of a friendly against them. For the club and our players to have that kind of opportunity is amazing and produces great memories for us all.”
DESA returned in high spirits and secured their place in the national playoff quarter finals with a 3-1 home win against Oaklands with goals scored by Sainsbury Logan, Abodunde and Hales.