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AC Milan hosts soccer festival at Flushing Meadows

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All the Woodside native knew was there was going to be a free soccer festival and that was enough for the 15-year-old and her...

By Dylan Butler

Diane Lobo said she didn’t know about the rich history of AC Milan, its six European championships and 16 Serie A titles.

All the Woodside native knew was there was going to be a free soccer festival and that was enough for the 15-year-old and her 12-year-old brother, Brian, to join more than 100 other youth soccer players at Flushing Meadows Corona Park Friday afternoon.

The Summer of Soccer Festival, in conjunction with the New York City Sports Commission and the Department of Parks and Recreation, was a chance for youth soccer players to learn from some former AC Milan players including Daniela Massaro, who played for Italy in the 1994 World Cup.

“We brought in about 15 trainers — six of them are former players — and we are giving out everything for free,” said William Giorgini, the president of Globall Soccer Carpe Diem, a Glen Cove-based organization running Milan Junior Camps this summer. “This is all part of a project of really pushing the brand and our way of coaching to the U.S. For us, it’s a good turnout. It’s a very good experience and we are really happy.”

Children ranging in age from 4 to 19 each received a free AC Milan jersey before walking onto the field to participate in six different stations where they practiced skills including dribbling, heading the ball, shooting penalty shots and passing.

In order to move the line along quickly, children stayed at each station for five minutes each for a total of 30 minutes. But more than a few, including 13-year-old Jessica Bermeo, jumped right back on the line to do it again.

“I liked the free stuff,” said the Corona native who plays for Flushing Meadows Corona Park-based soccer academy Beladitos. “And getting to dribble the ball around.”

Bermeo and teammate Lobo were two of 30 players to receive a free scholarship to the Milan Junior Camp at Flushing Meadows Corona Park from July 28 to Aug. 1.

“It’s good to have a soccer festival. I liked it,” said Lobo, who attends St. John’s Prep. “I liked the obstacles, basically the whole thing. And the free stuff.”

The free festival was part of AC Milan’s marketing campaign to familiarize youth soccer players, particularly those in New York, with the Italian super club.

“What is the main goal of AC Milan is to be here and give all the Queens and New York children the opportunity to play free soccer with professional trainers and maybe the opportunity to teach all the kids something about soccer,” said AC Milan Product Manager Michele Ferraris.

Darwin Lorentty, a soccer coach with the Brooklyn Knights, enjoyed watching the event from the sidelines.

“This is one of the best experiences they can have. I think they’ll never forget this,” the Jackson Heights native said. “This is the first club to invest their money here, and I think it’s the best.”

Proud soccer mom Maria Lobo agrees.

“I think this should be more often. I think we need it,” she said. “For the children, it’s great. In the summer they should have more of these things and be able to participate in these kinds of things.”

The festival wasn’t just fun for the young players. Massaro, who has played at the highest level for Italy, worked up a sweat in a small-sided game.

“Yeah,” he said. “But I win.”

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:20 pm, October 10, 2011
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