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Four locals chosen for AC Milan tryouts

Staff Photo: Will Hammock Local soccer players (from left) Eric Garcia, Sai Brown, Alejandro Lopez, Michael Neacsu, Lucah Flores, Angel Guevara and Cole Bowen pose after this week's AC Milan Junior Camp Atlanta, hosted by Georgia Futbol Club at Bethesda Park. Garcia, Brown, Lopez and Flores were chosen Friday for the second stage of tryouts for the AC Milan Junior International Elite program. Bowen, Guevara and Neacsu were chosen previously for the program by the AC Milan coaches.

Staff Photo: Will Hammock Local soccer players (from left) Eric Garcia, Sai Brown, Alejandro Lopez, Michael Neacsu, Lucah Flores, Angel Guevara and Cole Bowen pose after this week's AC Milan Junior Camp Atlanta, hosted by Georgia Futbol Club at Bethesda Park. Garcia, Brown, Lopez and Flores were chosen Friday for the second stage of tryouts for the AC Milan Junior International Elite program. Bowen, Guevara and Neacsu were chosen previously for the program by the AC Milan coaches.

LAWRENCEVILLE --The soccer players at Bethesda Park competed for fun and skill development this week, but there was a bigger goal for some.

Four of the nearly 100 campers at the AC Milan Junior Camp Atlanta, hosted by Georgia Futbol Club, reached that pinnacle when they were chosen Friday by the Italian professional club's trainers for a unique honor. Those campers, four local boys ranging in age from 10 to 13, received invitations to the second stage of tryouts, held in Italy, for the AC Milan Junior International Elite program.

"I feel like, being chosen out of a lot of people, you have to feel good about it," said one of the chosen four, Sai Brown, a 12-year-old Bay Creek Middle student. "I get to go to Italy, so I'm happy about it."

Brown was joined by 13-year-old Eric Garcia, who attends Moore Middle, 11-year-old Alejandro Lopez, who attends Jones Middle and 10-year-old Lucah Flores, who attends South Forsyth Middle.

They were recognized during the week long camp's awards ceremony, along with three players who were picked from the camp in previous seasons --13-year-olds Michael Neacsu and Angel Guevara, both from Crews Middle, and 12-year-old Cole Bowen, who attends Da Vinci Academy.

All of those players endured a hot week of camp under the watchful eyes of AC Milan trainers, who held the Atlanta showcase for a third straight year. Typically, they choose two or three campers from each American camp for the Italy tryout. But they selected four on Friday, which was fine by Brown, the only goalkeeper of the foursome.

"It was a fun week," Brown said. "We learned a lot of basics, then diving. I like the diving parts, especially when it's raining. When I got to scrimmage, I feel like I really shined there instead of just the keeper training."

While the invitations for training in Italy closed the ceremony, the preceding raffle had the rest of the campers equally excited, particularly when they saw the marquee item --an autographed jersey by AC Milan star Mario Balotelli.