LAURINBURG — At 11 years old, Kaleb McBride is already a world traveler — representing Scotland County on the international stage this summer after he was selected to play in the Donosti Cup, an international futbol tournament, in San Sebastian, Spain.
Kaleb is a rising fifth-grader at Marlboro Academy who started his soccer career with Scotland County Parks and Recreation when he was 4.
He caught the soccer bug and, last summer, traveled to Maryland to attend Kaptiva Sports FC Barcelona Soccer camp.
“Kaptiva Sports puts on the FC Barcelona camps all over the country,” said Kaleb’s father Kirk. “They evaluate all the kids that participate in the camps and they choose the top kids from all the camps to make teams to take to Spain to play in the international soccer tournament. Kaleb was chosen from his performance at the camp last summer.”
Kaleb was the only camper selected from his Maryland camp and joined youth players from Canada, Bolivia, Spain and the United States on the Kaptiva Sports B-11 team.
The team McBride was selected for was one of 13 teams in the B-11 Group L.
Donosti Cup, which was held from June 28 through July 8, brought together soccer players from 63 countries and five continents.
Kaleb and his parents flew into Germany and stayed in Barcelona for three nights before taking an eight-hour bus ride to the north side of Spain to San Sebastian, where the tournament was held.
“We actually stayed in Hendaye, France, for seven nights and played games there as well and in San Sebastian,” Kirk said. “The area we were in is referred to as Basque Country and they spoke not only French and Spanish, but Basque as well.”
Kaleb’s team went 2-1 in group play and, based on the number of goals scored against them, they were sent to the B-Bracket for playoffs. The team won its first game 2-0 before falling 6-1 in the second round to the eventual winner of that bracket, Saran USM from France.
During the Donosti Cup, Kaleb played goalie because due to a mixup the team didn’t have one.
“Kaleb plays striker, an offensive position, but when we got to Barcelona his team did not have a goalie. The director asked any of the kids if they wanted to play the position or she would have to get a kid from a local club to do it, Kaleb being Kaleb stepped right up and said ‘I can play any position, I’ll do it,’” Kirk said.
Despite being the shortest player on his team, Kaleb stepped up to the challenge and “crushed it.”
”Every coach he played along with all the parents said he did a fantastic job and they couldn’t believe he had never played goalie before. It was truly a proud moment for a parent to hear parents from other countries where soccer is king tell you that your kid is special and a really good goal keeper,” Kirk said.
Kirk said his son did travel back to Maryland this summer to participate in the Kaptiva Sports FC Barcelona Soccer camp in hopes of being selected to play in the Donosti Cup again.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]