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Elite athlete development, which delves into how athletes develop both physically and psychologically, is the goal at Giraldo Elite Futbol (GEF). Founded by two brothers from Columbia, where soccer is a passion and learned by playing in the streets for hours on end, they embrace diverse backgrounds, dissimilar soccer styles, and different cultures. These contrasts have helped contribute to strong and well-rounded soccer players, who strive to play at the top levels of the game.
The brothers, who have been professional soccer trainers since approximately age seventeen, were familiar with Corpus Christi from attending high school here. They wanted to bring professional soccer training to the area to help improve soccer development and produce top-level players from the Coastal Bend.
Three premier soccer players, Cesar Garcia, Seth Korenek, and Karo Azali, have trained together at GEF for approximately five years. All three teammates play in the Olympic Development Program for the US, with Korenek serving as Captain of Region 3. Their goal: to play soccer for the United States in the Olympics.
“I think all of us are looking to play at the highest levels of the game,” says Korenek, “and I think that GEF definitely benefits us in helping us achieve those goals. Their high level of training, as well as their support in helping us strive to achieve those goals, really helps us.”
More than just a team, the friends, who are all planning on going pro and who are all being heavily recruited by colleges, credit their solidarity for contributing to their success. “We’ve grown as a unit,” Azali explains, of playing with his friends over the years.
Describing training through GEF, Azali says, “I think it’s just a great environment overall to develop in. There’s no pressure. It is intense training, but you always feel support and you always feel like you are getting better with the training Every time you step out on the pitch with GEF training, you feel like you are becoming a better soccer player.”
The style of training at GEF is different from traditional soccer leagues. It is based on what is developmentally and academically appropriate, allows players freedom and unstructured time, lets players play different positions, and is researched-based. As co-owner Sebastian Giraldo explains it, “We’re looking to develop elite soccer players who can play at the highest levels available here in the US.”
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