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This summer 20 Darien soccer players representing FC Connecticut took part in the Gothia Cup.

With 1800 teams from all over the world representing 82 different countries the Gothia Cup is now as the Youth World Cup off Soccer.

This extradorinaiy experience began when the group headed off on July 12th beginning their international tour in Copenhagen, Denmark.

While in Copenhagen the seven FC CT teams played in two scrimmages, trained with Danish professional coaches and toured the city.

After three wonderful days in Denmark, the group left Copenhagen with 12 wins and two losses amongst them and in fantastic spirits for the tournament which lay ahead in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Attending the opening ceremony with over 60,000 people, the 200 plus members of the FC Connecticut squad, which included players, parents and siblings, got a real taste of what soccer means to most of the world.

After three days of group tournament play, the teams moved on to the single elimination playoffs facing such competition as Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Finland, Cambodia, and India.

“I was so proud to be able to offer this opportunity to all players from Darien regardless of which club they play for,” said DSA Coaching Director Jon Bradley, who is also long time Darien High coach.

“It never gets old,” said Stacy Branca, DSA Boys Travel Director, who has had three different players attend over the years. “Even after three years the experience is still tremendous.”

Suzanne Stafford, DSA Girls Travel Director, a first time attendee said it best.

“It was an amazing experience for everyone, a must do for any soccer enthusiast,” said Stafford. “Standing side by side with players from around the world was just eye opening. The energy exuding from all the players and parents with USA pride was overwhelming. The memories made at the Gothia Cup and in Copenhagen will last a lifetime.”

Darien players included Steven Carre, James Lucas, Kyle Baiera, Drew Baiera, Ryan Baiera, Anson Sikora, Caedin Sikora, Tommy Branca, Billy Branca, Callie Nickerson, Sadie Stafford, Jeremiah Stafford,Emerson Eckert, Ethan Eckert, Ashley Anderson, Dylan Anderson, Kelly Holmes, Meghan Kayhan, Kelly Kane, Brian Gorey; coaches Bradley, Brennan Branca and Chris Flaherty.

Appears in the Aug. 24 print issue of The Darien Times