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Saskatoon's Alvaro Campos recruited by Norway club


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A fine prospect.

I was surprised to read that a Norwegian club can afford to pay an $850,000 salary.

Going Far: Alvaro Campos recruited for summer by Norway club

Byron Jenkins

The StarPhoenix

Saturday, June 19, 2004


CREDIT: Richard Marjan, The StarPhoenix

Many Saskatoon high school students graduating this spring would like nothing better than to travel outside of Canada and see the world. One of them is about to see Europe courtesy of his footwork and soccer smarts.

Alvaro Campos, who graduates this month from St. Joseph High School, is going to spend his summer in Norway playing for the developmental team of Lyn, a First Division club.

The 17-year-old spent three weeks playing with Lyn last September. He so impressed the coaches they invited him back for a longer stay.

"Before going to Norway, I played in Guatemala, where the play involves a lot of dribbling," says Campos." In Norway, they want to get the ball to the forward as soon as possible and get a shot on net. I learned how to make the game more simple, with a lot of one-two touches."

His Norwegian coaches had some advice for him, which included working on fitness.

"They also wanted me to work on my decision-making and making the best pass possible instead of just the easiest pass."

It's rare for a Saskatchewan forward to attract such attention. Players here are typically labeled as steady and hardworking, but not brilliant offensively. Rumor has it that national coaches won't even look at our goal scorers. The Hollandia Gremio under-18 player, who played three seasons with the St. Joseph Guardians, defies that stereotype.

Professional coaches like to see height on their forwards to head in crossing balls and the weight to be able handle the rough treatment defenders mete out in the goalmouth. At 5-foot-11, 181 pounds, Campos is large by almost any sport's standards. He thinks the Lyn coaches also like his ability to both pass the ball and move with it.

"The difference between me and most of the players there is, that in dribbling, they are not as strong. Over there, one-twos (quick pass and move combinations) are more important than trying to dribble through people. When I went there, I played combinations of the two styles as much as possible. Norwegian soccer is very strong, fast soccer, but they are trying to incorporate more technique and skill."

Gremio coach Kurt Mario understands why the Norwegians want a second look at the affable teen. He describes Campos as an intelligent player who brings much more than physical presence and polished technique to the field.

"He doesn't use his strength in a brute force way, but positions himself well, understands the game and knows how it flows," says Mario. "His technique and processes are good. He can come off the field after a game and analyze what went wrong or what went right."

Campos has the desire to do well, going through even the most basic drills with intensity.

"He realizes that if they he can do these simple things well it opens up a whole bunch of things you can do out on the field," says Mario. "If you are worrying about where your foot's positioned, or you are having to look down at the ball, you can't do any of those intelligent things."

The focus, concentration and personal qualities he brings to each game and practice make him lockerroom gold.

"Regardless of how frantic it gets or how bad things are going, he is always positive and upbeat," says Mario. "He always has a smile on his face and brings a real nice attitude to the team. He presence, confidence in himself and outlook on life seem to cheer people up. He's a bright person. He works hard at his soccer, but has fun with it."

Campos is the first Canadian to play with Lyn.

"They wanted to see how a Canadian would react to their culture," he says.

He's prepared for the cultural differences and will room with teammates, including some from Poland and Morocco. He describes the Norwegians as friendly and fluent in English.

"They like talking a lot, which fits my personality, because I'm pretty outgoing."

He'll do twice-a-day workouts with the Lyn, one of the best developmental teams in Norway. A tournament in mid-July against all of Scandinavia's big development teams, as well as some teams from England and Portugal, will be a big test.

"This tournament is the big opportunity to see if I fit into the program and from there I will go step by step. Nothing is really set. The coach feels that maybe in a year or two, I'll be ready to play professional.

"It depends on how much I impress them as to how long I stay."

Players on Lyn's senior team earn up to $850,000 a season.

If his Norwegian odyssey doesn't work out, Campos will return to Saskatoon to pursue education. He looked at about 20 schools in the U.S. and even had a video done of himself.

"I decided that if I go to school, I want to stay in Saskatoon where I can focus on my studies and still play soccer. If I come home, I'll be back at the U of S and play for the Huskies."

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