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Funderburk quests for elite soccer team

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AJ Middle School student

By Robert Howey

 

   

Avery Funderburk, an Andrew Jackson Middle School seventh grader, is looking to gain a coveted spot with the U.S. Olympic Development Soccer Program this summer.

Funderburk, who competes in the Discoveries Soccer Club out of Rock Hill, was recommended for the Olympic Development Program by his DSC coach.

He completed a tryout in Columbia in December and learned just after Christmas he was selected for the state program.

The tryout drew 200 players and 36 players were selected following the ODP tryout.

“Avery is an exceptional player,” said Dave Carton, Funderburk’s Discoveries Soccer coach, who recommended him for the state program. “He’s one of my favorite players. 

“Avery is very curious and he is always looking to educate himself on the sport and improve as a player.,” he said.

Funderburk, 12, plays with the 00 Green team in the Discoveries Soccer Club, where he’s a sixth-year competitor.

Carton noted Funderburk’s approach to the game sets him apart from other players.

“He works hard and is not afraid of hard work,” Carton said. “When it comes time to mark a bigger player, he sees it as a challenge and takes it on. He has a good understanding of the game. Avery gets the job done and he’s the kind of player you like to have on your team.

“One reason for his success is that he has a good family and they are very proud of him,” Carton added.

Funderburk, in his second year in the Olympic Development Program, has been training since February and will continue through June.

As a member of the U.S. Olympic Development U-12 team last year, the team trained at that level to prepare for the advanced U-13 program.

With the U-13 team this summer, 18 of the 36 players will be selected to go to Alabama for the Region III Olympic Development camp.

Funderburk is also competing in the A.S. Roma soccer program, with a chance to play with the pro soccer team in Italy.

Funderburk was among 70 to 80 youngsters who tried out for the 12-year-old Carolinas team.

He is competing for a spot among 16 to 18 players on the Roma team, a professional development soccer team.

The team trains for a year in the Roma program and plays in  tournaments through the end of the summer.

Next spring, he will play in a showcase tournament for the chance to play in Italy.

“Avery strives to improve each time he steps on the field,” said Lewis Dougherty, an A.S. Roma coach. “He always wants to know what he can do to get better.

“Off the field, he’s also a great kid. I enjoy being around him.”