Around 60 kids braved hot temperatures this week at James Brown Park in the hopes of perfecting their soccer games.
Atlanta Calcio Academy Director and soccer-camp instructor Gavino Asteghene brought longtime business partner and friend David Sexton and former player Matthias Faublas to Hinesville, where the trio taught up-and-coming players the art of European-style soccer.
Asteghene, the 2013 Georgia State Soccer Coach of the Year, tours the country offering his training program to boys and girls. He also scouts talent and has taken several players on trips to Italy to gain an inside perspective of the world of professional soccer. Some players even have gone on to play for the Italian team Asteghene scouts talent for.
The longtime coach said he just returned from a trip to Italy, where 70 players and their families experienced a championship game.
“You know, for most people the only time they think they will see Italy is if they get married there or in their dreams,” he said. “But this group got to tour the area and see a live game in a stadium of 45,000 people … it was wonderful.”
The coach realized there was a pool of talent in Hinesville when he first came to the area in 2013 and vowed to return each year to help mold players.
This week, he was out directing commands to the players, who walked through dribble drills, danced during foot drills and ran during mock goal set-ups.
Faublas, who has taught at the academy for the past four years, met Asteghene several years ago when he attended Pope High School in Cobb County.
“I played for Gavino in high school,” he said.
Faublas grew up playing soccer in Haiti before he came to the United States and connected with Asteghene. After finishing high school, Faublas played for Clayton State University. Afterward, he went overseas.
“I went to Italy for a couple of years. I did pretty well … it was nice. I played for the reserves over there, and after a while, I came back over here,” he said.
Wanting to provide the same opportunity to younger players, Faublas is following in his mentor’s footsteps.
Saying Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake of 2010, Faublas is working to bring players from the island to the United States to continue their careers in high school and beyond.
Faublas smiled Tuesday while looking around at the camp attendees. Asteghene directed the group to work on a specialized foot drill, while Faublas demonstrated and picked up speed. That garnered looks from the young athletes.
“You see the faster you go, the nicer it looks and the better the ball control,” Asteghene said. “Look, he’s dancing. And now, you can dance, too.”
The camp runs through Thursday.