In Vt. Kids' Version of World Cup, Team USA Wins

The Vermont Futbol Academy held its own version of the World Cup tournament, for youth players

The Vermont Futbol Academy, a youth soccer camp held in Burlington, featured its own version of the World Cup. For the kids' tournament, teams were given names that corresponded to countries in the real World Cup, and they played 15 minute games. In Thursday's friendly competition, the kids on "Team USA" defeated the players dubbed "Team Germany" 2-0.

The youth games took a break at noontime for the players to watch the real World Cup matchup between the United States and Germany broadcast on television from Brazil. That game had a different outcome, with the Americans falling to Germany 1-0. Many of the camp attendees, whose ages ranged from 6-13, were disappointed in that result.

But despite the Americans' loss, learning the U.S. will still advance will likely keep these kids engaged in the huge international competition that comes just once every four years. "I didn't watch a single game when I was eight," remembered 12-year-old Lars Jensen of Shelburne, Vermont. "So this is definitely new, and it's really fun to watch. It's great to see all the best players in the world play."

It's no secret that soccer in this country lacks the kind of fan base we see from other sports like baseball or American football. So the coaches New England Cable News talked to at the Vermont Futbol Academy said they hope to use the excitement of the World Cup to grow the sport of soccer with the young generation. "A lot of these kids, it's going to be their first memory of the World Cup," observed Rob Dow, a soccer coach and former pro player.

Dow said fan support for Major League Soccer has been steadily increasing in recent years, as has participation in youth leagues teaching both athletic and life skills. "Learning leadership, what it means to be a leader, what it means to work within a team," Dow described as take-away benefits from youth soccer.

"It's really interesting to watch older people play and learn tips from them," said Sawyer Hood, an 11-year-old from South Hero, Vermont.

Hood said watching the World Cup has given him a better sense of the strategy behind passing. He'll keep studying those skills as the games continue, and he said he'll put them into practice himself on the field.

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