Surrey’s Luca Calandra is preparing for the soccer experience of a lifetime.
Next week he will depart for Milan, Italy, where he will take part in the Associazione Calcio Milan (A.C. Milan) soccer camp from March 15—18.
Nine-year-old Luca, who is currently in Grade 4 at Cloverdale Catholic School, earned the opportunity by participating in the A.C. Milan Junior Camp in Vancouver.
Luca was one of three players from that camp to be selected for the international program based on his talent, positive attitude, and ability to be coached.
A.C. Milan is a professional soccer club in Milan, Italy. Founded in 1899, it is recognized as one of the most successful soccer clubs in the world. The club hosts Juniors Camps in more than 100 cities around the globe, giving boys and girls ages 5 to 16 the chance to work with coaches from the A.C. Milan coaching staff.
The A.C. Milan Junior is “cool and fun,” said Luca, who has attended the Vancouver camp for three years.
The most cool and most fun part of the camp, according to Luca, is at the end when they do a shootout with all groups and all ages, and whoever wins gets a prize.
Luca knew that they selected a few players from the Vancouver camp every year to go to Italy, and told his parents that it was his dream to go, said his mom, Leslie Calandra.
“We told him, ‘Well you’ve got to keep working hard and you never know what could happen one year.’ And here we are,” she said.
The Italian soccer camp consists of two days of training followed by a two-day tournament. The players then get to see the A.C. Milan team in action at San Siro Stadium, and get to meet the players after the game.
Luca is the most excited to play soccer, but he’s also looking forward to checking out the gear that the Italian players have and trying out a pair of Italian cleats.
He’s also hoping to run into his favourite player and fellow goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Donnarumma plays for both A.C. Milan and the Italy national team. He was the youngest Italian to play in the under-21 division at 17 years of age, and the youngest goalkeeper to ever appear for Italy when he made his senior international debut at age 17.
Luca said he wasn’t sure why he like playing goal so much.
“When the ball comes at me, I like to dive for it,” he said. “And [I like] when I drop kick it super far.”
Luca has worked hard for the opportunity to play in Milan. He told the Cloverdale Reporter that during soccer season, which typically runs from September to early March, he’s out on the field nearly every day.
“I have practices Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Games on Saturday and maybe Sunday. Only one day off,” he said.
“I want to keep playing,” he said. “I want to be a professional.”