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SWFL United kicks off camps with Naples' Juergen Sommer speaking

from naplesnews.com

NAPLES Former United States National Team goalkeeper and part-time Naples resident Juergen Sommer spent part of his spring break on Tuesday talking about what he loves most: soccer.

To a group of players gathered at Barron Collier, set to participate in this season's SWFL United Soccer Academy, Sommer discussed what is expected of them to make the most of their soccer careers. A number of the players in attendance come from Academy directors Ray and Dwight Morgan's area high school programs -- the Barron Collier girls and Golden Gate boys teams.

"It's important to hear him talk about progression and having him help here is good experience," said Brett Wiesen, a freshman keeper for Barron Collier. "I played on the academy team against a U-18 team and it helps to play against some of the bigger players and teaches you not to be afraid."

The academy's senior session will run from April 13 (boys) and 14 (girls) until Aug. 5 and 6. The academy's junior session picks up on May 11 and also finishes on Aug. 6.

Sommer, 40, is an assistant with the Indiana University soccer team that he walked on to when he played on the team in 1987, started his next four seasons for the Hoosiers. Sommer, who played in the Optimist soccer program in Naples growing up, played with the United States during its World Cup appearances in 1994 and 1998, and spent several years overseas playing for several premier clubs in England. He also played in Major League Soccer with the Columbus Crew and New England Revolution.

After having played with Ray Morgan when the two were younger, he was happy to help with the local academy, now in its third season.

"I'm really here to give the kids some perspective," Sommer said. "I want to let them know what people are looking for out there and this is an area where you get a taste of how the different cultures are improving soccer down here.

"The plan here is to help out the future of the sport, the direction of the game. ... I'm on a board with U.S. Soccer that decides where certain youth grants go, and I think this is a club that is doing good things here."

SWFL United's senior academies go on to play in the U.S. Club Soccer national showcase tournament in Jacksonville each season. Dwight Morgan is hoping that this season's crop of players will be one of the teams everyone is talking about since he is going with a group that has spent a few offseasons playing with each other.

"Now we should have guys two seasons into it that have grown and jelled a little bit together, and that should bring us some more success," he said. "Really what we are trying to do is give some help to the local clubs here and curb the travel that some kids are doing to play club soccer on the other coast or in the Tampa area."

Registration is still open and more information is available on swflunitedsoccer.com and costs $250 for the senior academy, $175 for the junior academy.