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Hamm holds captive audience at camp

Soccer: Former great Mia Hamm visits FC Barcelona youth soccer camp at Glendale Sports Complex.

July 21, 2010|By Gabriel Rizk,
  • Children cheer for soccer superstar Mia Hamm during the FC Barcelona Camp Los Angeles event at the Glendale Sports Complex on Tuesday.
Children cheer for soccer superstar Mia Hamm during the… (Raul Roa, Glendale…)

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — For the roughly 75 attendants of the 2010 FC Barcelona Camp Los Angeles, which is currently conducting a weeklong session at the Glendale Sports Complex presented by Warner Bros. Consumer Products, the rare opportunities to receive instruction from and play under the supervision of professional coaches from the world-renowned Spanish superpower soccer club were all at their fingertips.

And, if that alone wasn't enough to draw the interest of youth soccer players from far and wide, campers got a special treat on Tuesday morning when retired United States soccer superstar Mia Hamm dropped by to offer some pointers, join in scrimmages and just take some time to meet and greet players and sign autographs.

"Meeting Mia Hamm was a great experience," 15-year-old Kristin Lago of Downey said. "She's someone I really look up to in soccer."

Hamm, 38, who was a four-time national champion at the University of North Carolina and a two-time FIFA World Cup champion and Olympic Gold medalist before retiring from competitive soccer in 2004, signed on to be an official ambassador for FC Barcelona in Nov. 2009 with the directive of promoting the club and its outreach efforts in America.


"Sometimes I think when I'm away from [soccer], I forget how much I really miss it," Hamm said. "I'm at a stage where I know I can't compete at the level that I did, but I love to share this experience because this game has given me so much.

"[It's] just about confidence. If one kid can walk away from here with a new sense of his or herself, be it in the classroom or social, that's a win for this camp."

Decked out in the iconic scarlet and blue striped jerseys worn by the team, campers from grade-school all the way up to high-school age worked on fundamentals and advanced techniques in various groups on the complex's two adjacent fields under the guidance of FC Barcelona coaches, as well as veteran area coaches.

"It's a lot of fun and it's a great experience," Cristina Seta, 16, of Burbank said. "We get to learn new tricks and moves and they put us through things that we haven't seen before."

The lure of the FC Barcelona brand and the chance to be trained in its passing- and teamwork-oriented style was enough to draw 15-year-old Ian Heredia all the way from Seattle.

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