College Cup Elite – El Salvador Experiences St. Louis and St. Louis Scott Gallagher
For the second year in a row, two different youth soccer teams from San Salvador traveled to St. Louis as members of the College Cup Elite Program. Last month a 2005 boys’ team participated in SLSG’s Fall Festival and then in late October, a High School aged girls team, participated in SLSG Fall Classic and College Showcase.
The program (SLSG and College Cup Elite have an affiliation) has produced quite a bit of positive feedback from all parties involved. The players and coaches of the College Elite Program have found that the experience of playing against competition in America has been very beneficial to player development. But, and this seems to be unanimous thinking, the experience off the field has been just as, if not more rewarding.
Both teams participated in a “home-stay” situation, meaning the players were housed by SLSG families, who selflessly receive the boys and girls into their homes to stay while in St. Louis.
The holistic “experience” is one in which the teams have a strict program of soccer training in the morning, (led cooperatively by both St. Louis Scott Gallagher Technical Staff and College Cup El Salvador coaches) is followed by different activities. Once training is over each day the team eats lunch together and then ventures out to visit one of St. Louis’ favorite attractions. Over the last two years the players have visited the Arch, the Zoo, the New Cathedral, as well as paid visits to local colleges and high schools. On most days, once the site seeing adventures are complete, the team heads back to the field to play friendlies in the evening against SLSG teams.
But, what has been a pleasant surprise, that all College Cup players agree with, without hesitation, is that the highlight of their visit is living with local families. St. Louis Scott Gallagher families who have children in similar age ranges volunteer to host 2 players for 6 days. The families are asked to make arrangements for the players to get to training each morning, and then arrangements to be picked up for the evening after their second session on the field. The players then have dinner with host families and sleep at their house. But, as we have learned, the families do so much more, and that extra is what makes the SLSG – El Salvador Homestay Program special.
Initial introductions between the El Salvadorian players and families and the SLSG Home-Stay families is done via email prior to the players traveling to St. Louis. So much information is passed back and forth through this email correspondence, that most host families do not need introduction upon arrival of their player. It has been so impressive to watch our SLSG families and our guests recognize each other and embrace at the airport as if they have known each other for years.
What is even more impressive is watching the host families and College Elite Players try to say good-bye once the week has ended. Where once our SLSG families may have been cautious and leary when deciding if they should commit to host, they now are grateful for the experience and don’t want to see their guests leave. The week is filled with family, learning, sharing, building relationships, and in the end all involved have said the experience is “just so fun”!
The affiliation, it purpose to expose players of El Salvador to the American culture and hope to provide college opportunities in our country, has been nothing but a success. So if you or anyone you know in the SLSG community may have an interest in participating in next years’ El Salvador Homestay Program, please notify SLSG Vice President and Technical Director Dale Schilly. Eligible families will be contacted immediately after details are finalized for the 2020 program.
A special thank you to this years host families, you truly make the experience special and SLSG wholeheartedly appreciates you!
"There are times in life when you reach out to help others and you find out the experience is even more valuable to you. As a family, providing a home to the kids coming from El Salvador, when all was said and done, it was one of the most valuable experiences for our family that we can remember. We gained lifelong friends and even though it was less than a week we already miss their kindness, enthusiasm and energy. Thanks SLSG for a memorable experience."
~ Keith and Aimee Smith
****The El Salvador Story