22. - 27. JULY 2019 - HJØRRING - DENMARK

 Danish Girl at American Academy

 Steven Carrera from IMG Academy in Florida is at Dana Cup with his Elite Football Camp girls' team. The EPC team, which Steven has brought along to Dana Cup, is a mix of Danish and American girls, aged 14-16.

15-year-old Olivia Runge Pedersen from Denmark and student at IMG Academy is one of Steven's favourites. In 2013 for confirmation Olivia was given a two-week-stay at a football camp in the USA and at that camp she was offered half-a-year at IMG. Olivia played for Skovbakken IF and DBU. She says that IMG was amazing. The friends, the people, the weather and surroundings were fantastic. Moreover, the USA is great. However, she is very happy to be back in Denmark. It is wonderful to see her friends and family.

She participates in Dana Cup for the first time, and she thinks that it is huge. In addition, she has opened the eyes of Steven and other football coaches to Danish footballers. IMG Academy is a very expensive school, but after Olivia popped by, Steven has been busy visiting Copenhagen and Aarhus lately in order to find new players for the IMG Academy; players he will give a scholarship. He is looking for Danish girl players around 14 years of age, with a good logical way of thinking on the pitch and a passion for the game. He states that Danish players often posses those kind of skills.

'The kind of passion the Danish players have for the game, you cannot find anywhere in the world. It is rooted deep in their hearts,' he says. Moreover, he talks about Olivia in a very special way. Without her, he would not have discovered the 14 Danish players he has brought along to the IMG Academy and who, having been given a scholarship, now study and live at the IMG Academy.

Steven has an app on his phone, which enables him to see when the girls come to school, if they skip classes, what kind of grades they get etc. And when things do not go well, they are not allowed to practice football the following two nights. At school a kind of mum or dad keep an eye on them making sure that they behave. He thinks that is important. More than 700 people work at the IMG Academy.

Steven mentions that when Danes study at a Danish continuation school focusing on football it is not 100%. You do not improve as a football player or as a student. At IMG studying is very much in focus and so is football training. 98% of the students go to college when they finish the Academy and only 2% turn professional.

As a child he played in a good club on a high level, but having to travel three hours to and from the club several times a week meant that his grades began to drop.

'One should always have a plan B. Because what do you do, if your knee or foot weaken? Steven says and continues by talking about how his father, who used to be a professional soccer player in Argentina in his youth, seriously injured his knee and about how he then began to study business and learn Spanish and ended up at the IMG.

He has had many offers from clubs in the USA that want him to coach their team, but nothing compares to IMG; a place he loves. The IMG Academy accepts everybody: both professionals and amateurs.

'Everybody can improve,' he underlines.

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