They’ve got a prolific striker from England, a strapping defender from Scotland, a dangerous Venezuelan midfielder, and a dependable U.S. goalkeeper.
Also on the roster are players from Colombia, Bosnia, Ghana, Cameroon, South Africa, France, and Argentina.
Oh, and add to the list a team captain from Floyds Knobs, Indiana.
No, it’s not an English Premier League team, but Campbellsville University in central Kentucky.
It’s a true united nations at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school, where Floyd Central graduate Alex Adams and his team mates are aiming to provide the program with its best season ever.
The Tigers are able to field such a mix of internationals thanks to NAIA’s no limit foreign player rule, as well as requirements in relation to age, grades, and past clubs.
Adams said their coach, Adam Preston, has developed relationships with recruiting centers globally.
“These connections allow our coach to see videos of hundreds of players from all over the world and choose which ones we would like to see come to our university,” said Adams.
When Preston became the program’s coach nearly 10 years ago, he had just two months to build a brand new team.
Now, Campbellsville has around 40 players a year, changing from all Americans, to an American/South American split, to a team now that has a good distribution of players from all over the world.
Two years ago, Campbellsville finished 17-7 and qualified for the NCCAA tournament (the national Christian tournament), finishing fourth.
Last year, the team didn’t perform to expectations, losing more games than it won. This year, however, Adams said the team has the talent, depth, experience and attitude to come out and play with anyone.
Key players include keeper James Clements, England’s Jamie Allen, Casey Clarke and Chris Collins-Reed, John Kennedy (Scotland), and Venezuela’s Gustavo Valecillos.
“ The best thing about the players this season is the depth we have in most positions,” said Adams. “We will be able to sub people out, and be much more comfortable with the guys stepping onto the pitch then we have been any other year.”
Opposition will include last year’s NAIA national champions, Lindsey Wilson (also from Kentucky), and one of 2009’s semifinalists, Rio Grande. The University of the Cumberlands is another highly ranked team from its Mid-South Conference, and Campbellsville is hoping to join the trio as a ranked team for the first time in its history.
And the Tigers certainly got off on the right foot on Friday with a comprehensive 4-0 victory against Freed-Hardeman University of Tennessee. Adams led by example in midfield, scoring the first goal on Finley Stadium’s brand new synthetic turf field, which comprises 115 bags of granulized rubber pellets from used tires.
“The new field is great,” said Adams. “I’ve gotten to practice on it multiple times, and have a couple scrimmages to get used to how it plays. It is a full size field, so it’s very big, and it plays very fast.”
Adams was a four years varsity player with Floyd Central, and played his club soccer with Southern Indiana United and Javanon.
He was school captain for two years, leading the team in his junior year, while also making the All-District team.
“The difference between here and high school originally was the size, speed, and age difference for me,” said Adams. “It seemed like everyone was taller, faster and older than I was.”
As a captain he said he has received more respect than ever from the incoming class. “They look up to me, don’t question things I say, and look to me for help on and off the field,” he said. “It feels good to know that everyday I can put in some positive influence into all of these guys’ lives.
“The attitude of the team shows me that they are willing to work hard, give it all, and never quit. I am hoping that with this attitude we can achieve greatness this year.”