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Youth Boys Aug 21, 2015

D.C. youth club Joga SC visits heavyweights in Netherlands, Belgium on scouting tour

Washington, D.C.-based youth soccer club Joga SC is matching up against several heavyweight professional clubs on a tour of the Netherlands and Belgium this week, as Joga coaches Kephern Fuller and James Myers seek experience and exposure for their young talents.

Traveling across the Atlantic with a primarily Under-13 and U-14 age crop, Joga met Dutch Eredivisie side FC Utrecht, whose senior squad is home to U.S. Men’s National Team striker Rubio Rubin, in a series of split-squad matches on Wednesday.

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The two clubs have a wider developmental partnership and education took priority over results in the four 8v8 matches, which were segmented into quarters as coaches sought to make the most of teachable moments.

Joga moved on to Eupen, Belgium on Friday to face their academy counterparts at Belgian second-division club KAS Eupen, and will also visit Club Brugge and PSV Eindhoven later in their trip.

A maverick club founded by Fuller in 2010 under the motto “play with the heart of the streets,” Joga works to identify and inspire technically gifted players to hone their skills with style and swagger. Working mainly with kids in the 10- to 14-year-old range, Fuller and his staff focus on a small group of players with an eye towards grooming them for the professional level using internationally-inspired pass-and-move philosophies.

Speaking to before the trip, Fuller emphasized the dual importance of getting Joga players hands-on experience in a top-caliber European development environment, and introducing Dutch and Belgian coaches to a group he believes can earn opportunities of their own at that level.

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Learn about the global standard of excellence, then prepare yourself to go abroad and pursue it: That mindset has rapidly become the next stage of Joga’s streetball-influenced mission. Towards that end, Fuller is establishing a Joga branch in the Netherlands to facilitate the movement of players and ideas.

“We call it Joga 30: We’re only going to take 30 [players] that are in the academy,” said Fuller. “It’s very focused: ‘Hey, we’re trying to develop you to go pro. That’s it. We want you to be scouted. That’s it.’

“For us on this trip, we want to see how many kids really make it.”

Joga is posting photos and updates from the trip on its Facebook page, while Fuller and Myers are also documenting the trip via their Twitter and Instagram accounts.