5th July 2018
K Sports v Oakland Leopards FC
Pre-Season International Friendly
K Sports Cobdown, Aylesford, ME20 6AU
On 5th July the Oaklands Leopards are in town, but who are they, and what are doing over here?
The Leopards are a competitive soccer club founded in 1998 based in Oakland California. They currently have, u11, u14, u19 and a men's team that compete in the elite San Francisco Soccer Football League. Their vision and mission is to develop players from a young age into talented soccer players and responsible individuals.
In early July they are travelling to England to play three Non League sides as a way of giving experience to their players of different styles of football.
I spoke to their Manager Edward Stephen about the club and their visit here.
I was inspired by traveling to Europe last summer with my family and started talking with my teams about playing soccer abroad. I asked them, “If you could play soccer anywhere in the world, where would it be?” The unanimous answer: the UK.
What is the schedule for the visit?
Here is an idea of our schedule,
2nd July - depart Oakland
3rd July - arrive LGW staying in Palmers Lodge Hillspring a hostel in London
4th July - recovery day from jet lag and get acclimated
5th July - play K Sports FC - U19s @ 7pm and Mens @ 7:45pm
6th July - recovery day from game
7th July - play Redbridge FC (Essex Senior)
8th July - play Biggleswade United FC (Spartan South Midlands)
9th July - recovery day from games
10th July - fly home
How did the club come about?
It started as a favour over 16 years ago, when I agreed to coach my twelve year old neighbor’s soccer team. Little did I know that coaching the Oakland Leopards would eventually become my full-time volunteer career. Over the years, the original team evolved as the players grew up, I started new teams including a men’s team, and my commitment to serving the incredible youth of Oakland deepened. I’ve devoted countless days, nights and weekends, and many thousands of dollars, trying to make a difference for my players by providing a safe and welcoming environment for these boys to play soccer and supporting the players to find productive pathways in a community that is better known for wide-spread poverty and crime.
What are your aims for the trip?
I want the players to experience football in the UK and learn about a different football culture. We have some good players who could learn a lot and improve with the opportunity. Some have good CV's and highlight videos and could attract attention if the right eyes are on them. But the main focus would be a cultural exchange relating to football and providing an opportunity to low income kids they would not normally get to experience.
How is the trip funded?
Well, I need help! My players have been hustling and sacrificing- working extra jobs, saving money and fundraising for the trip. But, given the financial realities that my players and their families face, we still have a gap out of the $45,000 needed for the trip. And, there’s no going back- I’ve committed to plane tickets, paid for the youth hostel and purchased transportation cards.
Here is the breakdown for the two teams of 15 players each and 5 Staff -
It will cost $1300 estimated per person (not including meals), made up from
$900 Flight from Oakland to London Gatwick leaving July 2 and returning July 10, 2018
$225 Youth Hostel for seven nights at Palmer’s Lodge Hillspring
$30 Bus transportation to and from the airport
$65 Oyster Card for the Tube and overground in London
$75 Transportation to get players to our 3 games
$5 Insurance policy
I care about these kids so much and would be grateful for any support anyone can give via our Go Fund Me Page.
Thanks for your time Edward and good luck with your trip here!
The three teams that get to play them here look like they will be welcoming an ambitious and proud set of players.
If you are free on the 5th July, why not pop along to see our new American friends play K Sports in what is sure to be an exciting encounter.
Adult - £5
Child - £2
Programme - £1
To find out more about the Oakland Leopards please visit their website here
Check out this video of Edward Stephen and his connection to Top Eleven!
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