Odd Couple (cont.)
Posted: Friday June 22, 2007 4:55PM; Updated: Friday June 22, 2007 4:53PM
Becks Gives Back
While David Beckham completed his career with Real Madrid last week and prepares for his debut with the Los Angeles Galaxy next month, he is already having a major impact across the pond. The David Beckham Academy, which he initially launched two years ago in London, kicked off their summer season this week at the Home Depot Center.
Walking into the same Home Depot Center locker rooms that Beckham will soon be lacing up his boots in, 70 kids -- ranging in age from eight to 15 -- were treated like professionals as they put on their DBA jersey, shorts, socks and shoes, which were laid out for them by an equipment manager the night before.
"It's very exhilarating," said 11-year-old Carter Belfort, who lives 10 minutes from the academy. "People here have probably not have had this kind of treatment before. Having all their clothes and everything laid out for them like a professional."
Others, like Jin Marks, 14, traveled a little bit farther to get trained by the professional soccer coaches who rotate between the academies in London and Los Angeles.
"I traveled about 10 hours from Japan to be here," said Marks, who is staying with his uncle during the five-day session before heading back home. "I wanted to go to a soccer camp this summer and when I was searching this was the best one. It's Beckham, you know. I like his free kicks and hopefully I can learn how to do them one day."
The sight of seeing 70 kids engaged in soccer training under the summer sun put a smile on the face of Mo Boreham, the director of coaching at the academy since it opened less than two years ago.
"David was telling me the other day, give kids something back in soccer, and I think we are," said Boreham, who had a long professional career in England, playing from 1960-1983 for the Hayes, Uxbridge and Harrow football clubs. "When I was at the London academy David would drop in. He would fly from Real Madrid and we didn't even know that he was coming in. He just comes in and he's just a big kid at times. He gets out there and just plays with the lads."
While Beckham will have a full plate of on the field and off the field commitments when he arrives in the States, Boreham is confident that he'll make his presence known at his academy as soon as he gets in town and make a few surprise cameo appearances during the summer camps as he did in London.
"You can't imagine how the kids react when they see him. They're talking all day like, 'David came in today! Did you see him? He talked to me!' If we can get that when he's here, that'll be brilliant. I'm sure we will. He loves to see the kids have a good time."
Persona Non "Grotto"
Kobe Bryant has had a lot to say about his teammates the past couple months, but we have yet to hear any of his teammates talk about their disgruntled "leader." It's certainly not an accident as they've apparently been instructed not to comment on the situation.
While attending a party at the Playboy Mansion Thursday night, I asked Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic his thoughts on Kobe Bryant's situation and he was immediately flanked by two publicists who said, "No Kobe questions." Vujacic said, "I can't talk about that." When I asked if he would simply want to have Bryant as a teammate, he was pulled away as if he was being interrogated and said, "I can't talk about him; I can only talk about myself."