Sporting Kansas City U14 Academy player Patrick Wilkinson returned from Costa Rica this week after joining an 18-player ODP Boys 99 Region II team in Costa Rica from Feb. 4-11. Wilkinson, a central midfielder from Overland Park, Kan., was alongside many of the region's top players in his age group as they played three matches against the youth sides of Heredia, Alajuela and Saprissa.
Led by Adrian Parrish (state director of coaching for the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association) along with fellow coaches Ian Barker (NSCAA Director of Coaching Education) and Jim Launder (director of coaching for the Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association), the international tour also included training sessions, a community service project and the opportunity to attend a professional match.
"The reason we consider trips like this so important is the opportunity they provide for players to have a unique training and playing experience," Barker wrote on NSCAA.com. "The players are challenged to adapt quickly to new coaching and teammates in an environment very different to their domestic club. Also, the international nature of the experience requires the boys adjust to different climatic and training conditions, styles of play and officiating, as well as a 24/7 exposure to a different culture."
In addition to experience with the Olympic Development Program, Wilkinson has also been invited to train within US Club Soccer's Player Development Programs in recent years. He is rated the No. 7 player in the Heartland Region by TopDrawerSoccer.com for the Class of 2017.
Visit the Region II Boys ODP Facebook page for photos from the trip, in addition to the video footage below...