Friars boys watch Roma train in March '16

Friars enjoy ‘experience of a lifetime’ on GoPlay tour of Italy

“It truly has been an experience of a lifetime and one that we will all remember forever,” claimed Jake Drew of Providence College men’s soccer team after their recent trip to Italy.

Providence College took 21 players, led by coach Craig Stewart and arrived in Rome on Saturday, February 26 for a 10-Day international tour.

The Friars remained undefeated after playing three competitive games, while taking in the sights of St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museums, the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum. The Friars watched AS Roma train and met some of the players, including  Poland international goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, watched Roma legend Francesco Totti hit the post with a free-kick at the Stadio Olmpico, whilst also taking in the delights of the Italian culture.

In an action-packed schedule, pizza-making, selfie-stick buying and a trip to the beautiful resort of Sorrento were all experiences treasured by the athletes, who gained crucial experience and earned a creditable 0-0 draw with a talented Roma Primavera side.

Below are series of blogs from student-athletes on the trip.

Blog #1 – Nick Sailor

Bonjourno from Italy! We landed in Rome early Saturday morning and were greeted by our tour-guide, Italy connoisseur and Italian-speaking Englishman, Joe (Giuseppe), for the week. Once we packed our bags into the coach bus, we drove from the airport into Rome for a brief driving tour of the sights we would see in the coming days. We arrived at the Centro Di Preparazione Olimpica Guilo Onesti for a quick shower and lunch. You could certainly sense we were exhausted from the travel, but that lull in energy quickly diminished when we went to see the Colosseum. In marvel of the size and the rich history behind the Colosseum, much of the team took selfies with the new selfie sticks sold by street vendors (Editor’s note: Manny Andrade ’16 was able to negotiate the best selfie stick price. Johnny Hamilton & Alex DoRego recreated the best action shot. See below for winning pic #JoRego). We continued to walk around the city of Rome, marveling at its art, the architecture and lively, vibrant people. We kept exploring the city until we ate our first dinner in Italy at Taverna Le Coppelle. Dinner was a great teaser for the tremendous food we are going to eat during our trip. Finally, after a long day, and very few hours of sleep, we called it a night.

The next morning, after breakfast, we laced up our boots to begin the soccer portion of the trip. Our first training session was run by three coaches of the A.S Roma staff. Hardly any of us speak Italian, but the concepts and principles of ‘calcio’ remained the same and we gained a lot from the coaches’ ideas and methods of training. Rain put a halt in some of the mid-afternoon exploring of Rome, but it did not impede the pizza-making lesson. We all have had pizzas during our lifetime, but this pizza in Italy was unforgettable. The demonstration of how to make pizza was met with awe in its simplicity and its attention to detail. After a brief demonstration, we proceeded to make our own pizzas, using the technique we just learned. Some pizzas looked better than others, some did not have the presentation of professionals, but after it was cooked in the oven, the taste was sublime. Coupled with arrocino, and dessert, our time making pizza was a success and we headed to bed well fed but hungry for our first game against Lupa Roma F.C.

Blog #2 – Colin Miller

Monday February 29, 2016, Rome, Italy – When in Rome
We awoke to pouring rain outside of the Olympic training center. Today we kicked off the morning with breakfast at the dining hall, after a much needed night of rest. Afterwards, we spent some time working through a walk and stretch. The team then gathered for 30 minutes, discussing our game plan for our first match against Lupa Roma. We had a little down time to gather ourselves after our meeting, before heading to lunch at 12:30. We fueled our bodies for the game and set off for the field! Out on the field, the team put their best foot forward earning a comfortable 4-0 victory! Mac Steeves scored three of our four goals and the other one came from Julian Gressel. After the game we took the team bus over to a professional soccer game between Lazio and Sassuolo at the world famous Stadio Olimpico! The rain was coming down hard but that didn’t discourage the Lazio supporters from cheering on their team! Despite the home field advantage, Lazio came up short in a 2-0 loss. It was a tremendous experience for Providence Men’s Soccer.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
After another heart-healthy breakfast from the cafe, the team got out on the field for a 10am training session. It was a beautiful day for practice, with the sun shining and the temperature in the mid-60s. The session was focused on recovery from yesterday’s game and some technical preparation for tomorrow’s match against Roma Primavera. After the session, the team had some time to enjoy lunch and get ready for a full day of sight-seeing. We departed at 1:45 pm for the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica. Words cannot describe how beautiful and elaborate the sculptures and paintings were within both the Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica. The craftsmanship and integrity of painters/sculptors, such as Michelangelo, is truly remarkable and magnificent. It was an experience that all the men will cherish for a lifetime! We picked up a few souvenirs before walking to dinner at Restaurant Taverna Parione. The Italian cuisine never disappoints and the men left with full stomachs and smiles on their faces! After walking the meal off through some local shops and the side streets of Rome, we boarded the bus to head back to the hotel. We are looking forward to our match-up tomorrow against Roma Primavera, which will certainly be a test for the team. Hope everyone is enjoying their spring break as much as we are! As always, Go Friars!!

Blog #3 – Mac Steeves

Wednesday, March 2, 2016
This morning we packed up our belongings and left the Olympic training center. Karl Anderson ’88 and his family joined us as we took a bus ride to the AS Roma Training facility in Trigoria. There we were able to watch the first team train on immaculate grass fields, as the team prepared for their Serie A game on Friday. The 90-minute session consisted of a dynamic warmup and directional possession play. It ended with a small sided game under the watchful eye of Head Coach Luciano Spalletti. The boys had a great view from the balcony as we watched the likes of Totti, Maicon and Dzeko in action. At the end of their training, we were able to talk to starting goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczęsny, and quickly grab a team picture with him before heading over to the Mancini park hotel for lunch. After a fantastic pre-game meal we arrived back at the training complex to face Alberto De Rossi’s Primavera team. The talented group of young players proved to be a good test for our team early in the spring season. The game was well played and although both teams had their fair share of chances, the game finished scoreless. After the game, players from both teams shook hands and took photos before showering and got back in the bus to head down the Almafi Coast. The day at Trigoria was definitely a highlight for many of the players and our thanks go out to AS Roma for being such fantastic hosts.

Thursday, March 3, 2016
On Thursday, we woke up eager to go to the island of Capri, but unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate. Our day trip was cancelled so we squeezed in a regeneration/practice session at a field 10 minutes from the hotel. When we arrived, everyone was surprised at how beautiful the field was. It was a nice 6v6 turf field with an unbelievable view. We played a small sided inter-squad tournament where many goals were scored and a lot of laughs were shared (Editors note: Team Portugal were named tournament champions after beating the ‘All Americans’ in the final with the ‘Rest of the world’ finishing last). After that, we went shopping and walked around Sorrento until dinner time. At dinner there was a wonderful guitarist who performed many songs for us while we ate. Although our stay was short, we found Sorrento to be a beautiful place to visit and tomorrow we look forward to heading back up to Rome.

This is Mac Steeves signing off from Italy. Forza Roma! And, as always, GO FRIARS!

Blog #4 – Jake Drew

Friday, March 4, 2016
We departed the beautiful city of Sorrento early Friday morning, ready to get back to Rome for the last part of our trip. The bus climbed the winding hillsides and we took in breathtaking views of the city below as the morning sun poked through the clouds. Just over an hour later we arrived at the ruins of Pompei. Tired eyes opened wide to the sights of the ancient Roman city and the overlooking Mount Vesuvius, which was responsible for the destruction of the city. It is amazing that the body molds of people who died during the volcanic eruption were preserved, which we got to see at the end of the tour. The team even found a bone on the ground, which was pretty cool. Credit to Johnny for the find. (Editors note: pretty sure it was a stick). After the long drive coming back from Sorrento, we quickly checked into the Hotel Donna Laura and got ready for the AS Roma game against Fiorentina at Stadio Olimpico. We were treated to a first class tour of the stadium which led us through the locker rooms, up to the clubhouse and then down to the team dugouts. We were able to stay pitch-side to watch the team warm up before taking our seats with the Roma fans. It was a vibrant atmosphere, as songs were sung from around the whole stadium. We got to join in on a few chants and had plenty to cheer for as Roma breezed past Fiorentina, 4-1. The legend himself, Totti, also made an appearance at the end of the game and almost scored a majestic free kick which struck the post. After such an amazing experience with the club tour and game, I’m sure most of the team will agree that they are newfound fans of AS Roma!

Saturday, March 5, 2016
On Saturday morning we did some sightseeing and had some time to shop along one of the main shopping areas in Rome. We got to the Spanish Steps right as the gate opened at 10:00 am and made our way down. Even though part of it was under construction, there were great views of the city from the top of the steps. We also got to see the Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Ugly Boat) at the bottom of the steps. From there we made our way to the iconic Trevi Fountain. It is rumored that you will fall in love in Rome for tossing a coin in the fountain, so a few of us tossed a coin over our shoulder into the fountain for good luck. After seeing the fountain we went to the official AS Roma store where the guys were able to buy everything from Roma jerseys, t-shirts, rugs, headphones & underpants! After that we had some time for shopping and lunch on our own before getting ready for our final match. Our game kicked off around 6:15 pm with relatively clear skies, but it was raining for most of the game. Despite the conditions, we fought to a 1-1 (Andrade) first half and came out strong in the second to win 4-1 (Gressel, Sousa, Steeves). It was great way to end the trip with a win and to stay undefeated! After the game we had our last meal together at the Restaurant Le Terme del Colosseo, which was a great place for such an occasion as we enjoyed great food, live opera performances and some farewell speeches. It was a great way to wrap up the trip and say thanks to the people that made it happen and helped make it run smoothly. Overall, the trip has been fantastic. Between the games, training, sightseeing and spending time together as a team, it truly has been an experience of a lifetime and one that we will all remember forever!

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