Beachside Soccer Club’s JP Fernandez received the mother of all emails last Sunday night. It was an invitation to the US Under 14 Boys National Soccer Team training camp in Florida next February. “I was sleeping on the couch when my dad said I might want to wake up and read an email that just came in. It woke me up all right!”
13 year-old JP, who attends Eastern Middle School in Riverside, is a remarkably enthusiastic soccer player. He plays as midfielder on Beachsides’ Academy U14 team, which plays in a league of 80 or so clubs across the US selected by the United States Soccer Federation for the quality of their instructional environment.
Through this league he has been observed multiple times by National Team coaching staff. They really like the way he plays says Beachside and BSC director Mickey Kydes, He has worked incredibly hard to develop remarkable skill for his age. He has a great understanding of soccer and makes quick, good, decisions on the field.
JP is a small guy – only 100 lbs. There are many, many coaches working in this age group who would pass him over in favor of bigger, more developed boys who will help them win games with a physical style of play continued Kydes. We have never worked that way at Beachside and JPs call-up by US Soccer re-affirms our philosophy.
My earliest memories of soccer are playing in the OGRCC rec. league at Binney Park in Old Greenwich when I was four. I immediately fell in love with the game. says JP. When I was about 10 I decided that I would do everything possible to be the very best.
JP progressed from the OGRCCs recreational program to its travel teams, and when he was 10 to Beachside’s premier teams. (Beachside is an elite soccer program drawing players from Westchester, Fairfield and New Haven counties) before making the BSC Academy team. Last year he also played with with a Talent Identification Program team run by the Eastern Development Program (EDP) – the league Beachside premier teams play in . EDP TIP has helped me because I was are playing with the best players from highly competitive EDP clubs from Connecticut to Pennsylvania. I found that several TIP players were getting invited to US Soccer Training Centers and Camps and that motivated me to work harder and play for the National Team.”
I love my BSC Development Academy team. My team always trains hard and plays with pride and passion in matches. I couldn’t ask for a better team or league to play in.”
We practice 4 times a week, but outside of team sessions I practice every day. If its a training day I just get a couple touches on the ball so that my touch is sharp. If its a non practice day I usually train with a teammate or on my own at a local field near my home for about 1 to 2 hours. I usually go to Chelsea Piers in Stamford on Friday nights — I try to find the field with the best level of play and ask to join a team. They almost always hesitate when they see my size, but eventually let me in. I love playing in adult pick-up games because I learn from them. Playing with older players helps my game because it forces me to think quicker and always be 1-2 steps ahead.
JPs favorite player is FC Barcelona’s midfielder Xavi Hernandez: I try to play like him, like an organizer. Im constantly watching videos of him and I hope to be as good as him one day.
JP credits his coaches Ozzie Fuentes and Roger Chavez (OGRCC) Mark Alves and Allan Zuniga (Beachside Premier) Pete Doneit and Paul Melitsanopoulos (BSC Academy) for his development along the way.
On the Academy team I have improved my game rapidly in these past 5 months. Coach Pete has really helped me with my technique for striking balls with both feet and many other things. Coach Paul has taught me also about being 1-2 steps ahead always.
I have to talk also about Mickey Kydes. He’s been there ever since I started playing in his programs at OGRCC. Whether training one-on-one with him, with my whole team, or just talking to him, I always learn something. Mickey has been the biggest influence on me. He has always been easy to talk to: I am inspired by him because he made it as a player and I hope to get to where he was, and beyond.”
“Without the guidance of all these coaches, and the incredible support from my parents, none of this would be close to possible.”