Colorado Rapids 2002 Development Academy Travel to Panama
Posted by: Andrew Kummer | 13U/14U Boys Director of Coaching
The Colorado Rapids 02 Boys Development Academy team recently returned home from Panama in what turned out to be a trip they will cherish for many years to come. A squad of 17 players and a coaching staff of four began their journey on the Copa America Airlines inaugural flight from Denver to Panama City in which a celebration took place at DIA with many City of Denver officials. The celebration did not end there as the team was invited to a ceremony at the US Ambassador’s residence in Panama City that included many business leaders from Denver and Panama City. This unique experience included the team being recognized by ambassador John Feeley and in return the players presenting him and Copa Airlines with signed Rapids jerseys as a thank-you for their hospitality. The players proved to be a big hit amongst the 300 guests that were in attendance.
While the focus of the trip was to gain an invaluable soccer experience, some of the highlights included activities off of the pitch. As if the trip to the embassy was not enough, the team was able to participate in an after school program through a group called Futbol Con Corazon (Soccer With Heart) at Escuela Estados Unidos (name of school in Panama City). The focus of the program is to incorporate their core values of Respect, Tolerance, Solidarity, and Honesty into the teaching and competition through the game of soccer. The boys mixed in with the Panamanian players and played futsal for several hours followed by the sharing of Rapids gear with many of the students. In fact, students from the school were seen in the streets proudly wearing the gear they had just received from their new Colorado friends. Other off the field highlights included a trip to the Panama Canal, a visit to the Bio Museum, walking through Cosco Viejo and some shopping at the Multi Plaza Mall.
Although the team schedule was quite full, the focus of soccer was always the number one priority. The team played in three matches and did a wonderful job staying focused throughout the week. The coaching staff was not sure what to expect regarding the competition they were to face, but was pleased with the outcome as all three matches provided difficult challenges and much to learn from. The first game was played in the city of Chorrera vs. the professional club San Francisco FC in which the Rapids came out victorious with a 4-2 win. The second game provided a different outcome vs. the storied club Plaza Amador at Maracana Stadium. The Rapids lost 1-0 in difficult hot and humid conditions. As they knew it was not their best performance, they quickly moved on and began to focus on their most anticipated challenge.
Likely, the most memorable experience came in their final match vs. the U16 Panamanian National team at the famous 45,000 seat Rommel Fernandez Stadium. Coached by former Rapids first team player, Gabriel Torres (2013-15), the U16 National Team was the opponent that had the Rapids most concerned. The players arrived at the stadium early and had the opportunity to walk the field, take pictures, and truly enjoy the moment. As it turns out, the team produced their best performance of the trip in a thrilling back and forth match. A late goal by the Panamanians gave them the 3-2 victory. While it was a disappointing result, the game was a memorable one to be a part of for the team and the staff. The Rapids 02 DA represented club and country with great pride and established the groundwork for future opportunities in Panama. Great job and good luck with the rest of your season!