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ECNL Sep 19, 2023

ECNL Boys Atlanta National Event 2023 Recap

This weekend, the ECNL’s 2023-24 National Events schedule got underway with ECNL Atlanta. Not only did the event mark the first National Event of the season, but for the U12 teams and some of the U13 teams, it was their first opportunity to ever experience an ECNL National Event.

Baltimore Celtic Executive Director Stephen Basso believed the weekend was a great opportunity for his teams to see the different levels of play from around the country and showed them that they need to continue to consistently put in the work if they want to continue to be successful.

“It was great for them to see that all over the country there are clubs at their level, some are better than them, and there’s teams that they are going to be better than,” Basso said. “It was an eye opener for them to really step up their level.”

Basso emphasized that getting an experience like ECNL Atlanta early on in the season will be extremely beneficial to his players as the season progresses.

“Being able to travel to Atlanta, and getting that experience so early on in the season, is going to help them prepare for the away games and road trips throughout the year. If they do get a playoff spot or go to the finals, then they are going to be used to the travel and they are going to have a little of that experience under their belt.”

Overall, Basso thought the weekend provided a very professional environment for his players to showcase themselves on a national level.

“The environment, competition, level of play, and the fields all come together to create a very positive environment for the boys to play in and to shine in,” Basso said.

Alex Pineda, Atlanta Fire U12 Head Coach, thought the opportunity for his players to compete at ECNL Atlanta this weekend was an outstanding opportunity for them to not only see players from outside of the state, but also to get them prepared for what the ECNL is about when they are U13s next season.

“We are in a good position to get them that experience. I don’t think it’s too early. I think it’s great, so that next year they will be prepared for what it’s all about,” Pineda said. “It was a very positive weekend.”

Atlanta Fire ECNL Director Garth Pollonais, echoed Pineda’s thoughts, and believes getting the younger players these experiences gives them a different perspective for when they are older.

“Part of it is allowing the younger players to be under the ECNL umbrella early. Letting them get a different perspective of the competition level and what the ECNL is all about,” Pollonais said. “If you can educate them and put them in that environment early, then as they get older, they have a better perspective of what ECNL represents.”

Pollonais believes an early season event like ECNL Atlanta gives all the teams an opportunity to find out where they are at against other teams, as they move forward in the season.

“It’s a good competition gauge early in the season to see and evaluate where the teams are at,” said Pollonais. “Overall, I thought the atmosphere, energy, and the level of the games was good.”

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