Soccer players had a lot to say over the weekend in the Juneau Soccer Club’s annual 3v3 World Cup.
“It is fun. I meet new friends. I get to score. My shirt is cool. It is warm inside. I get to play. I learn a lot about soccer. No one yells at me. I like to sit on the grass.”
These were all spoken by some of the best players the countries playing in the cup had to offer. More than 130 players on 34 teams competed in four age groups: Seniors, Juniors, Pre-Comp and Developmental. Teams consisted of four players. Each player takes their turn “out” for three minutes of the 12-minute match. The referee rotates each player in turn near the 3-minute mark.
On Saturday, the middle school age groups were decided. For the Juniors Division, the Republic of Ireland, consisting of McKie Gregory, Alex McKenzie, Forrest Davis and Eva Goering were the World Cup champs. The Seniors Division saw Japan’s roster of Ernie Ramos, Lars Peterson, Sunny Tveten and Ronan Davies claim the title of world’s best.
On Sunday in the Developmental Division among elementary age players, Italy won the day with Busby West, Brodee Green, Blake Plummer and Liam Kelly on the pitch.
In the Pre-Competitive Division, Cooper Wakely, Gabe Cheng, Gavin Millard and Esteban Soto took Greece out of their economic doldrums and to a World Cup trophy.
According to organizers Carl Ferlauto and Matt Dusenberry, the tournament is focused on the players. A small pitch, just three players per side and a short match duration allows all to be involved in every contest. Unique to the tournament is that no coaching is allowed.
“Hey, no coaching please,” Ferlauto said on numerous occasions, his gaze directed to a group of fans along the Wells Fargo Dimond Park Field House’s upper running track. “Let the kids play please.”
According to Ferlauto, the greatest players in the soccer game often developed much of their skill from playing “street soccer” where they simply found other children, a ball, made up rules for what obstacle they encountered on their playing surfaces and simply had a lot of fun.
Ferlauto said that the players solve their own problems, try new things on their own, learn to work with their teammates and “they just play and have fun. They learn a lot on their own.”
As the championships approached the end, the final teams clashed on the pitch and players ran, kicked and tumbled.
On one break-a-way, a youth was on the move the ball at his feet and a loud voice in his ear.
“Mom,” he yelled, stopping suddenly and letting the ball roll away out of bounds. “There is no coaching!”