Written by Betsy Abraham, email@example.com Thursday, 06 March 2014 09:40
Hicksville’s Matthew Sloan faced off against the best young soccer players in the world recently, as he traveled to Turkey with the Olympic Developmental Program.
The Hicksville High School freshman started playing soccer when he was three and advanced his game to a more competitive level at age 10, when he was chosen to play with the Long Island Rough Riders. Sloan plays other sports and is on the boys basketball team, but says that he loves soccer because of the fast pace, and because of the coaches who have had a great influence on him throughout his training.
This is his first year as part of the highly selective Olympic Developmental Program, which identifies and trains young athletes for the Olympic, Youth and Men’s National soccer teams. He garnered a spot on the New York State level of the program after a series of competitive evaluations and tryouts, which began last November.
In Turkey, Sloan joined a select team of 16 other young athletes from the east coast for a week of training and playing against European youth pro teams. While overseas, he was able to gain exposure to a completely different style of playing soccer.
“The speed of the game was so much quicker there,” Sloan said. “Over there, they’re much stronger and faster and much more physical than here. The skill level was very high.”
The trip improved Sloan’s soccer skills and gave him an introduction to playing European teams, but it also opened his mind to the future.
“The trip helped me realized I have the potential to play pro soccer, and I had never thought about that before,” Sloan says.
Sloan is currently on the Hicksville varsity boys soccer team, and also plays on several other soccer teams. His dream is to play soccer at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and go on to play professional soccer.