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Spanish football scouts thrilled with talent on show at Kappa Classic

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Matt Kokoszka, left, with Xavi Allen, one of the student-athletes sent to junior boarding school in the United States and his father Omar (Photograph supplied)

Javier Ornia, the general manager of the Nàstic Sports Academy in Spain was stunned by the amount of Bermudian interest in football when he cast his eye over some of the local talent at the Kappa Classic.

Ornia was on the island with Jose Manuel Dias, Global Education & Sports Partners Spanish representative, to scout for youngsters interested in pursuing their education and football careers in Spain, with Ornia hoping to attract the first Bermudian to the academy after his initial visit to the island.

“Bermuda is such an amazing country,’’ Ornia said. “I’m really surprised by such a high number of people interested in soccer.

“For a population of 70,000 people to see 1,000 people here is really amazing. It’s a high percentage of the population concentrated in one tournament.

Impressed: Jose Manuel Dias, left, and Javier Ornia from Nàstic Sports Academy (Photograph supplied)

“I’m trying to imagine in Spain if from 50 million people, we had one million in the same place at the same moment. This is what we had here.”

Ornia spotted youngsters with immense potential and is keen to have the island’s budding stars enrolled into a facility that offers them an opportunity to balance sport and education.

“I saw a lot of potential talent and a lot of things to do because you have the most important thing, you have the talent,’’ he said.

“Where I think they could improve is the methodology and way of training. This is why we are here as we are trying to provide something that you don’t have here on the island.

“We were looking for those interested in not only improving their soccer, but also to continue studying.

“This is what we are offering and we’re involved with a professional club, Gimnàstic de Tarragona, one the oldest sports clubs in Spain with 154 years of history.

“We provide in our campus not only a very professional way of training, but also the highest school and university studies in the same place.

“This is the same model the Americans follow with but we have a university and high school in the same place with a professional club.

“We have more than 2,000 people in the same campus every day and in the boarding school we have more than 200 from more than 50 different countries.

“All of them are aged between 12 to 25 years, studying in university and high school and training as professionals every day for four hours.

Caches and student-athletes at the Global Education and Sports Partners basketball showcase held at Mount Saint Agnes Academy (Photograph supplied)

“They’re also competing, which is the most important thing in order to improve. Our competition system is really good, which is why we came here to offer this.

GESP operations manager Noah Giovanelli, who uis based in the United States, was also pleased with the devotion to the game displayed by the island’s young stars.

Founded by US high school coach Matt Kokoszka, GESP represents 70 American boarding schools, with Bermudian couple Jah-Jah and Kim Robinson, the GESP partners on the island.

“We've seen the passion for football and there are definitely some talented players here,’’ Giovanelli said.

“I think they can be challenged more, whether that’s coming to one of our programmes in the United States or our programme in Spain to continue both their academic and athletic careers.

“We’re hoping to provide that for some families and children on the island. We've had a few success stories, Riley Robinson and Lazai Outerbridge are two children we've helped come to the US.

“They've gone over to the US for football and have continued their academics as well. Combining both is very important to us as we want children to be able to have both education and their football careers continue.

“Lazai is in a great university and hopefully we can provide this opportunity to more children.”

It was not only football talent being spotted in Bermuda with Kokoszka’s brother Martin running a two-day basketball showcase at Mount Saint Agnes Academy.

Martin and Matt Kokoszka at the National Sports Centre's North Field (Photograph supplied)

“We had coach Robert Logan from Oak Hill Academy assessing the basketball players,’’ Kim Robinson said.

“The basketball showcase was put together by the Bermuda Basketball Association’s Tim Trott, in conjunction with Gladstone Simons from Bermuda youth basketball and GESP.

“It was held to try help student-athletes get placements within boarding schools in the US.

“We had some players that were in the Kappa and you've got athletes who do both sports. They couldn't come on the Saturday, so they came to the basketball on the Sunday.

Robinson spoke on what the football scouts were keeping an eye on during the Kappa Classic.

“They were looking for that player that does have that technical ability,’’ she said.

“At the end of day you don’t have to be a Lionel Messi to go to school. What we’re looking to do is develop these footballers.”

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Published April 24, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 25, 2024 at 8:13 am)

Spanish football scouts thrilled with talent on show at Kappa Classic

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