While lots of kids dream of one day becoming a professional athlete, the reality is, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to fulfil such a dream.
But for one Burnaby kid, hard work and dedication is just part of the passion he has for soccer.
Eleven-year-old Damiano Pecile has been playing soccer since he was five years old, and in the past two years his hard work has started to pay off. Damiano began his young career with the Cliff Avenue United Football Club. Since Damiano was nine years old, he's been playing one age group up, and he's currently playing with the Burnaby Selects' U13 team, at age 11.
Damiano's passion for the game is evident. Ask him what he likes about soccer and he'll tell you it's all about the excitement on the field.
"With soccer, I basically like everything. I like the aggressiveness of soccer, and I like the competitiveness, and I also like the feeling that you get when you score a goal or your team wins a big championship," Damiano told the Burnaby NOW.
When Damiano and his parents heard that former professional soccer player and head of Vancouver's Excel Soccer School, Tony Pensato was putting together a youth team to travel to Europe, they knew this was the opportunity the 11-yearold needed to further his chances of one day playing in Europe.
This year, Damiano finally got the chance to travel with Pensato's team overseas.
And much to his delight, the Lower Mainland boys stood up rather well against the European competition, which included London's Tottenham Hotspur Football Club and the Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club based in East Sussex - run by Paul Barber who, up until very recently, was the chief executive officer of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
While the Canadian kids came up short against Tottenham in a mini-tournament, they managed to beat Albion's team, quite a feat for a Canadian soccer program, said Danny Pecile, Damiano's father.
"These are all academy teams. So these are top-end teams out there," Danny said.
In Italy, the winning continued as Damiano and his team beat the four out of five teams they faced. Good thing too, as scouts were at the games checking out the Canadian team that had beaten Albion in London.
"A Canadian team, they think we're just a joke. They think 'What are you guys doing? You should be playing hockey.' That's the comments every day," Danny said. But one of the European scouts took interest in the Canadian kids, especially Damiano, and when he was in Vancouver in August, he asked Damiano to come out and play with the Whitecaps' youth team - a team made up of boys two years older than the Burnaby native.
"He did very well at the camp," Danny added.
Well indeed, because before the Peciles knew it, the European scout asked if Damiano could train in Italy for two weeks with the Unione Sportiva Cremonese Football Club, based in Cremona, Italy.
And so, from Sept. 1 to 14, 11-year-old Damiano Pecile is overseas training at an European football academy with the hopes of leaving a lasting impression that will see him return next to attend the soccer school's month-long program next summer. If all goes well, Damiano could be asked to return to Italy to train full-time by the time he's 13 years old, but that means the youngster has to stay focused until then.
"It's actually really fun. I like it a lot because I get to play with really good players," Damiano said.
Until the day comes when Damiano gets the call about his prospects in Europe, he'll continue playing the game that he loves in his hometown, because after all, it's the love of soccer that keeps this kid going.
"You know you have to go out there and play for your players and your team, and you're always trying to achieve better stuff than you can. So you're trying to play better than you know you can," Damiano said. "You push yourself."
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