Young foot­ballers make pro­vin­cial Un­der 12 squad

White­way teen named to un­der-12 pro­vin­cial soc­cer squad

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Dil­lon Brown and Damian Laun­dry are a pair of tal­ented young ath­letes mak­ing some waves on the pro­vin­cial soc­cer scene. In July, the pair will be trav­el­ling to Mon­treal with the Team NL un­der-12 group for a na­tional com­pe­ti­tion. The Com­pass caught up with them last week.

Dil­lon Brown’s first soc­cer ball doesn’t re­sem­ble much of one th­ese days.

Miss­ing the ma­jor­ity of its plas­tic outer shell, it’s thread un­der­body is torn in places and the in­ner ball has popped.

The boy from White­way doesn’t know for sure how many times he’s booted that ball around the back­yard, but he fig­ures it’s eas­ily in the thou­sands.

“As long as I can re­mem­ber if there was a ball around, I was kick­ing the ball,” said the 12-year-old, who was named last sum­mer to the pro­vin­cial un­der-12 team.

It’s one of 30 balls Brown has in his pos­ses­sion. It was pur­chased at the lo­cal Wal-Mart just af­ter his first prac­tice just un­der a decade ago.

That ball and a home­made goal helped spark some­thing in­side the young­ster. Since then, The Beau­ti­ful Game has been his sport of choice and soc­cer balls started tak­ing up more and more space at the fam­ily home.

“I’ve got a Chelsea ball and a bunch of Adi­das and Nike balls,” said Brown when he spoke with The Com­pass last week.

“It’s only a replica of one, but I have a 2014 FIFA World Cup and a nice cou­ple of other ones.”

He en­joys watch­ing Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, Ney­mar and Lionel Messi when he gets the chance. Brown never missed a game for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and he prefers to watch the Che­lea Blues or Manch­ester Red Devils.

“I like both of the teams,” he said.

This soc­cer en­thu­si­asm led him to start with the CBN mi­nor as­so­ci­a­tion in Har­bour Grace be­fore mov­ing to the St. John’s soc­cer as­so­ci­a­tion.

Next month, the pro­vin­cial team will travel to Mon­treal for a na­tional tour­na­ment.

“I’m re­ally, re­ally ex­cited to get go­ing,” said Brown.

“It was pretty cool to be in­vited.”

“(Dil­lon) said over and over, “I can’t be­lieve I got se­lected,” added mom Leila.

A de­fen­sive men­tal­ity

In the first cou­ple of prac­tices with the pro­vin­cial squad, Brown has been play­ing in the back­field as a de­fender.

That is un­til re­cently when coaches have moved him up front to the striker po­si­tion. It’s a move that Brown is OK with. He’s a fan of ei­ther po­si­tion. “I en­joy the striker po­si­tion, but I think I’m bet­ter as a de- fender,” said Brown.

It’s the level of game think­ing that goes into play­ing in the back­field that in­trigues the young ath­lete.

Work ethic

Brown has spent plenty of time try­ing to make him­self a bet­ter and more com­plete player.

A right-footed kicker by trade, he’s made in­cred­i­ble strides to en­sure he can be a suit­able kicker with his left foot as well.

Be­ing able to go left is an area young ath­letes can strug­gle with, in part be­cause it’s nat­u­ral to go to your strong side.

Af­ter months of work, Brown be­lieves he’s got­ten im­mensely bet­ter with his left foot.

“Lately, I’ve been try­ing to kick with (the left foot) more and now, I can kick al­most as good as my right foot.”

In Mon­treal, Brown and his team­mates are slated take in a Mon­treal Im­pact FC match, while check­ing out other sites.

Of all that, there is one spot he is look­ing for­ward to hit­ting. It’s a sports store ded­i­cated to soc­cer.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting some more soc­cer balls,” said Brown. “I don’t know how I’ll get them home though.”

“Lately, I’ve been try­ing to kick with (the left foot) more and now, I can kick al­most as good as my right foot.” Dil­lon Brown

NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

White­way’s Dil­lon Brown proudly dis­plays his first soc­cer ball. The 12-year-old is a mem­ber of this province’s un­der-12 team.

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