BRADENTON, Fla. – One of the players to impress the most during the 2015 Super Y League ODP National Camp was DDYSC Wolves forward Alhaji Tambudu. A strong, powerful presence up front for Josh Scott’s side, Tambudu’s touch and eye for goal caught plenty of attention during the IMG Cup, and earned selection to the U16 All-Star Team announced on Sunday.
“The first day, right away, it was very evident that he was a very talented individual, and as the days have gone by, he’s proven to be a very good player,” Scott said. “Great attitude, great head on his shoulders, great work ethic, and obviously the goals that he’s scored have defninitely turned heads. It sends a great message for Super Y ODP, for USL bringing in individuals like Alhajihere at IMG, and for him to have the opportunity to showcase his ability.”
Tambadu was held off the score sheet on Sunday as Team Scott fell 1-0 against Weston Academy in its final game of the tournament, but came closest to finding a reply for his side as a rasping strike from 20 yards clipped the top of the crossbar with the goalkeeper beaten.
“I’m happy to be here,” Tambadu said. “I’ve shown people what I can do, and that’s a good thing for me.”
As he returns to Atlanta, Tambadu will look to stay on a path that appears to be moving toward the next level and college soccer.
“He’s a very powerful runner, he’s very confident on the ball,” Scott said. “He sends the message that he knows what he wants, and he’ll go after it. Obviously, he’s very good with the ball at his feet, goes off both feet, has an eye for goal, and he’s reliable. When the ball goes into his feet, he secures it, and in college it can get very physical, players are very ambitious, and he shows a great confidence that he’ll definitely be able to handle it.”
HOLCOMBE ADDS ALL-STAR HONOR: After she claimed the Golden Boot in the Girls U15 Division at December's SYL North American Finals, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Alisha Holcombe continued to show a good touch in front of goal this weekend.
The ODP camp allowed for more experimentation, though, as the Washington Spirit Academy MD standout played in a variety of positions for Mike Varga’s squad.
“It was good,” Holcombe said. “I liked training with my friends, and playing against different people so I can learn how to play in different positions.”
Holcombe said her tactical awareness, including learning how to better defend as a forward, was one of the things she’d take away from the weekend. Varga, meanwhile, was impressed by Holcombe’s maturity and attitude.
“She’s younger than most, I think she’s a year younger than a lot of the girls on the team, and she’s not only a good player, she works hard, she sets the standard with the team in training, and she’s a fun human being to be around as well,” Varga said. “She’s quality, as far as athletic ability. She’s got the ability in tight space, but also as a forward to get by defenders and score goals, and that’s what you’re looking for.”
YOUTHFUL TRACY EARNS PLAUDITS: The Alpharetta Ambush’s Holden Tracy entered the weekend’s camp as the youngest player on the boys' side. He left it as one of the two goalkeepers selected to the U14 Boys All-Star Team.
“I just feel really amazing right now,” Tracy said. “It was a fun environment, and it felt nice to just be able to play soccer. It’s not just the physical aspect, you can get the physical aspect anywhere, it’s the mental aspect. I get to learn stuff that you would never think about.”
Tracy and the other goalkeepers in camp appreciated the specialized training they received as part of the event, which honed their technical skills and also worked on mental conditioning.
“I really loved the ‘keeper coaches, they were nice,” Tracy said. “They challenged you, they made everything game-realistic, and they let you stay a little bit after practice if you wanted to do a bit of shooting, which was awesome.”
LUY PLEASED WITH CAMP AT CONCLUSION: Senior Director of Youth League Development Brett Luy was happy with the way the weekend played out, as both players and coaches embraced the opportunity to learn and compete at IMG Academy.
“I think it went very well,” Luy said. “I thought on and off the field the players were great, we had a top-flight coaching staff with the college coaches and a few others with pro experience mixed in as well, so I think it went great.”
After four days of training and competition, Luy said he hoped the players in attendance got the chance to widen their horizons as to what soccer could offer in the future, and that they left motivated to continue to improve.
“They see each other in matches throughout the season, but it’s obviously a different mix of levels,” Luy said. “Here we obviously strive to have the top of the top and give them that goal in mind, whether it be making the Select Team next year, whether it’s moving through the USL ranks, giving them a goal to achieve in the future is what we hope they take away the most.”