It is one of the most recognizable names in the soccer world, and AC Milan is bringing some of its youth coaches to host the Milan Junior Camp in Queens next month.
The Milan Junior Camp will take place at the Metropolitan Oval from July 7-11 and July 14-18 and will run from July 28-Aug. 1 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
In conjunction with recently merged Globall Soccer Concepts and Globall Carpe Diem, as well as the New York Sports Commission and the New York Parks and Recreation Department, Flushing Meadows Corona Park will also be the site of the AC Milan Soccer Festival July 11.
The free festival, which will run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., will feature some of the same Milan coaches who will participate in the camps as well as former Milan players, including Daniela Massimo, who played for Italy in the 1994 World Cup.
Milan is looking to make an impact in the United States and this is the beginning, said Globall Soccer Concepts president Peter Zaratin. Theres 19 million kids playing soccer and the strength is in the grassroots. With New York being one of the hotbeds of soccer, theres probably no better place to do it than here.
Zaratin, the president of Glen Cove-based Globall Soccer Concepts for five years, said he received offers from different clubs to host soccer camps in the area and wasnt sold on Milan originally.
At first I was a little skeptical because I only knew the professional side of AC Milan, he said. But to see how they do camps, how they interrelate with kids as well as the overall image they convey and the training is what sets AC Milan apart from whats out there.
And then theres the free gear, which Zaratin admits is a major selling point with the players hes spoken to about the camps. Each player receives two Milan jerseys, two pairs of shorts, two pairs of socks and a Milan bag.
The camp at the Metropolitan Oval, which is hosted by the Brooklyn Knights, will run from July 7-11 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for campers ages 10 to 14 and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. for campers ages 14 to 17.
Its a better atmosphere for the kids, said Joe Balsamo, a former professional player in Italy who is a Brooklyn Knights youth coach. AC Milan wants to work with the Brooklyn Knights. They see what happened with the U.S. in the last World Cup, they see that there is talent in the United States.
In addition to four AC Milan youth coaches, Brooklyn Knights coaches Balsamo, Joe Misso and former U.S. national team captain Mike Windischmann, will train the campers.
According to Balsamo, among those who will also be there for the camp are Paolo Gatti, the director of youth programs for AC Milan and former Milan player Giandomenico Costi.
You can see the eyes of the kids, they are very excited, Balsamo said. To have them on the field juggling with them, talking with them, they cant wait for this to happen.
As an extra incentive, the top two campers ages 10 to 14 will be invited by AC Milan to watch the defending European champions play Juventus in the Berlusconi Cup in August, but they will have the opportunity to play in an exhibition game against a youth team from Juventus in front of 80,000 fans at the San Siro before the game.
Zaratin said there will also be an elite overnight camp for players ages 11 and up from Aug. 3-8 at the Globall Soccer Complex, a 100-acre camp in Glen Cove. This camp is by invitation only, and each potential player must send in two letters of recommendation. The deadline is the end of June.
Milan has been around for over 100 years, Zaratin said. And their training staff is probably the biggest reason why the kids will experience more than just their typical summer camp.
For more information on the AC Milan Junior Camps, call Globall Soccer Concepts at 516-671-1585 or visit them on the Web at www.Global
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2003 Community News Group
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