International high school soccer players got a warm welcome during their stop on the Central Coast Thursday night at Santa Maria’s Crossroads Fields across from BMW/Volkswagen of Santa Maria.
Three teams from the Reading School in Berkshire, England were in town as part of a playing tour of California.
They squared off in two international “friendlies” against teams from the Coastal Valley Soccer Club (CVSC).
“The community really came out to support the teams,” said CVSC president Mike Borges, who coaches the CVSC Katana boys under-15 team with legendary local soccer coach Gonzalo “Gonzo” Garcia. “There were easily 200 people who came out tonight to watch the games. It was great.”
The Reading School brought three teams to California.
The CVSC had only two available to compete – CVSC Katana, a boys under-15 team, and CVSC Madrid, a boys under-19 team.
Katana lost 3-0 in the early game to the Reading B team, a boys under-17 squad.
“I think the boys might have been out-physicaled a bit in that first game,” said Borges. “Reading has some really big boys on its teams.”
Madrid came out and salvaged a split, earning a 5-1 victory over the Reading A team, a boys under-19 squad.
“George Guzman, who just graduated from Righetti High School, scored three of our five goals in Madrid’s win,” said Borges. “And Saul Sandoval, who just graduated from Pioneer Valley, scored the other two.
“Madrid is a very good team. There are a lot of local high school stars on that team. And the Reading teams were both very good. It was a great night of soccer for both teams.”
The Reading School is one of the oldest schools in all of Great Britain. Located just west of London, the Reading School is the 10th oldest school in England, founded in 1125 by King Henry VII.
The teams began their California coastal tour with games in Oakland, San Francisco and Santa Cruz before moving down the coast to Santa Maria.
“The teams have one day of soccer and two days of fun at each stop,” said Borges. “They play matches in each city then spend a couple days in the area having some fun, learning about the cities and the people.”
Reading has actually been staying on the Goleta campus of UCSB for the past few days.
“They try to house the players on college campuses so they’ve been in the dorms at UCSB and they’ve been touring the area,” said Borges.
The boys next will be heading down to Los Angeles to wrap up their playing tour.
“Tomorrow they’re going to Universal Studios. Saturday, they’re playing games in the L.A. area, then late Sunday night or Monday morning, they’ll be getting on a jet and head back to England,” said Borges.
“I think the Reading School kids had a good time. I know our kids had a great time. Just the whole international feel. It was just so interesting to watch and listen to the kids interact with each other. Both sides speaking with their home town accents. It was a great experience. We got the teams all together after the match. We gave them each a CVSC pin and they gave us a banner from their school with their school crest on it.”
After the match, both teams posed for a group photo that is posted at the CVSC web site.
And Borges is hoping it’s not the last his CVSC has seen of the Reading or other international players.
“It’s the first time our club has done it. We’re hoping to do it again. We’re hoping to make it an annual summertime event.”