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Youngster aspires to become soccer pro

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St. Helen's parishioner accepts invitation to train at Italian academy
By Agnieszka KrawczynskiDamiano Pecile, only 11, is making an impression on Italian coaches. After just receiving two weeks of training at a prominent soccer academy in Cremona, Italy, he has been invited to return next year. Photo submitted.10

The B.C. Catholic

After seven years of passing and shooting in Burnaby and New Westminster, soccer player Damiano Pecile, a St. Helen's parishioner, is getting attention in Europe. The 11-year-old forward has just accepted a second invitation to train at a prominent soccer academy in Italy.

"I belong on the soccer field," Damiano said after his return from two weeks of training with Unione Sportiva Cremonese Sept. 1-14.

Damiano started playing soccer when he was 4 years old. He joined Cliff Avenue United FC, and by 9, was moved up an age group. He's been playing with older teammates since then, and is currently on the U13 Burnaby Selects team.

In the spring, Damiano was selected to travel to England and Italy with the Excel Soccer Academy and compete with some top professional youth teams.

"Damiano did very well," explained Tony Pensato, the academy's founder and a former professional soccer player. "A couple of teams asked about a few of our players and were specifically interested in Damiano."

"I got to show my skill," Damiano recounted, joking that the Europeans were surprised a Canadian could handle the ball so well.

Then, in the summer, an Italian professional youth coach visited Vancouver and got a closer look at the young competitor during an Excel Soccer Academy camp. The boy's skill made a lasting impression on him.

The coach invited Damiano to return to the small Italian city of Cremona for more training at the top-notch academy in June 2014.

"Damiano is very determined. He is a quick player who is always looking to score. He has a great shot," Pensato remarked.

Damiano's proud father, Danny Pecile, took Damiano on his European travels. "They take it very seriously. They're talking to him as if he's a professional," he said.

Coaches at the academy told Danny they were pleased with Damiano's talent as well as "how well-mannered, respectful, and mature he was," he noted.

The family will find out more details in April, but said that if next year's training is successful and Damiano is asked to return to train full-time, they might have to consider moving to Italy.

"It would be our dream" for Damiano to become a pro, Danny said.

"I always wanted to become a professional soccer player," Damiano affirmed. The game's competitive and aggressive elements, as well as the adrenaline of scoring a goal, drive his passion.

A former altar server at St. Helen's, Damiano remembers to keep his successes in perspective.

"Every single time I stepped out on the field, I thanked God for letting me be in Italy," he said. "He gives me hope to win."

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 October 2013 08:00  

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