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Gators host Italian style soccer camp
Some of the Calcio Camp participants pose with Atlanta Calcio Academy coach Gavino Asteghene, Georgia Military College soccer coach Dave Sexton and Hinesville Gators and First Presbyterian Christian Academy soccer coach Tom Sukaratana. - photo by Photo by Marcia Graham

For the fifth year, the Atlanta Calcio Academy visited James Brown Park in Hinesville to teach European soccer techniques to participants in a camp hosted by hometown soccer club, the Hinesville Gators.

The academy is an elite soccer program designed to teach American players Italian and European tactics and technical skills. The academy’s directed is Gavino Asteghene, the 2013 Georgia State Soccer Coach of the Year.

Originally from Sardinia, Italy, Asteghene has lived in Georgia for 35 years. Over the years, he has accumulated a coaching resume that includes heading teams for Concorde Fire, Atlanta Fire United (Elite Club National League teams), and Ambush FC. During the Calcio Camp, he was assisted by Dave Sexton, head coach of the men’s team at Georgia Military College.

The Calcio Camp was modeled and designed from professional training programs across Europe. The fundamentals are stressed and repeated daily. First touch, ball control, and sound trapping are emphasized. Players are exposed to European team tactics and strategies of possession. Assists are lauded as much as a goal, and participants finish camp with a stronger grasp of team play.

Top camp participants earn the opportunity to be invited to travel to Italy in the spring and train with Empoli FC, Pisa, and other Italian city teams in the area.

This week, Asteghene and Sexton worked with a young group of players in Hinesville. Impressed with the quality of the Gator players, Asteghene reiterated his thoughts on previous camps in Hinesville.

"There is a wealth of soccer talent in this community, that could shine a light here," Asteghene said. "Tom Sukaratana and the Hinesville Gators are superb at development. Players should come out, especially in the older age groups. In this new generation of players, there is great potential to go far. There is potential for better knowledge, but the drive has to match it or it will not work."

He praised and cautioned the young athletes.

"American players are more athletic than their European counterparts," he said. "They can run faster, jump higher, are bigger and stronger. What America needs is development. Here in America, we need to stop worrying about winning at any cost and focus on development if we want to compete with the rest of the world."

The Atlanta Calcio Academy will return to Hinesville next July. For more information on the Academy visit

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