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Locals are futbolito world champs

Seacliff Elementary futbolito team wins international title after beating teams from Mexico, Costa Rica.

July 09, 2009|By Matt Szabo

One of the last things Bobby Bruch said he told his team before the game was simple enough.

Seacliff Elementary wasn’t about to play in just any old soccer game.

Here Bruch and the girls were, about 1,400 miles from home. They were about to leave in a van that had “Go USA.” painted on the windows and play Costa Rica for an international title in “futbolito,” six-on-six indoor soccer.

The day wasn’t just any old Saturday, either. It was the Fourth of July.

Bruch reminded his squad about the privilege of playing for the United States, especially on its birthday. Then, he put it all in perspective.

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“As we leave this van we are champions,” Bruch said. “But when we return to the van, we will be world champions.”

And they were.

Seacliff won the international Futbolito Bimbo title Saturday at the NYTEX Sports Center in North Richland Hills, Texas, after beating Costa Rica, 4-2.

Seacliff, already the Los Angeles-area champion and then the national champion, also defeated a team from Mexico.

The arena was freezing, Bruch said, as it was a field placed over the ice. By the time the finals started Saturday, the field was slippery and Seacliff only had flat shoes. The opponents from Costa Rica had went out and bought shoes with rubbery spikes, he said.

But the Sea Stars came through again, and it was no surprise to Bruch. He coached CIF champions at Marina in the early 1990s, but this team was special.

“Of all the championship teams I’ve ever coached, this is one of the most talented,” he said. “They have what I call the ‘it’ factor, or the gift. We were able to overcome adversity ... this team has that ability.”

The event was part of a big weekend. It also included a trip to Six Flags, training with the U.S. National Arena Soccer Team and hanging out with competitors from different countries.

Each team presented its national flag to the other team. Seacliff also gave out gift baskets.

“That’s customary in international competition,” Bruch said. “You want to show that this is a little more than a soccer competition, a sporting event. It was great for the girls.”

Seacliff defender McKenzie Elliott said the gift basket included items like candy, lip gloss, a squirt gun and soccer ball temporary tattoos.

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