Guam – Not many incoming high school seniors can claim the whirlwind summer adventure footballer Christian Schweizer had experienced this year.
Schweizer recently returned to Guam from a two-week trip that included a two-day professional visit to California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and later, extensive training with Exeter City Football Club in England. The summer opportunity was set up by Guam Football Association technical director and Matao head coach Gary White through his personal contacts.
Exeter City FC’s professional team played in the npower League One last season, the third highest division in the English football league system. The highest division is the Barclays Premier League.
“I actually got a couple of minutes of playing time and I learned the speed of play – I could see how fast it was compared to Guam,” Schweizer said of the matches he played with Exeter FC’s U18 squad and a few members of the football club’s professional U21 players. “It’s one thing to see it on TV, but when you’re actually playing, you can really see where you need to be in terms of where your skill level is.
“I hope that I’ll be able to take what I’ve learned from there and share it here in Guam so we can all get to that higher level, a higher standard of play,” Schweizer added.
This rare opportunity for the St. John’s School senior came after he helped the Matao, the Guam men’s national football team, as a starter, qualify for the second round of the East Asian Cup in mid July. Schweizer also was part of the Matao traveling team that played in a FIFA-friendly match against the Azkals, the Philippine men’s national team, on June 12 in the Philippines.
“Christian has the key ingredient for success – he has a great attitude,” said Simon Hayward, Exeter City FC Academy Manager, through E-mail. “He was very dedicated to his training in the short time he spent with us. He’s very keen to learn and improve.”
Regional opponents on the soccer pitch have learned first-hand the hard way not to underestimate the young defender, whose boyish good looks and relatively thin frame fool them into thinking he is a newbie on the field. Initially, Schweizer was a reserve player on the Matao team during its FIFA-friendly match against the Azkals. After he wowed team coaches with his performance in the second half of the game, played in front of thousands of fans in Panaad Stadium, he earned his starting spot on the team and has retained his spot since then. His presence in the Matao’s defensive line during the East Asian Cup preliminary competition assisted in the team’s victories over the Northern Mariana Islands and Macau to advance to the tournament’s second round.
“Christian’s best attribute is his pure drive to be better,” White said. “He’s strong for his age, he’s very athletic and good on the ball – he’s technically sound.
“Christian is as home-grown as they come. He’s a perfect model player for our youth. With the newly formed National Academy, we hope to produce more quality players like Christian,” White added.
Schweizer’s soccer success had taken root from his involvement in Guam Football Association’s youth leagues with the Wings FC. His participation in the youth leagues fueled his competitive spirit in interscholastic leagues, men’s leagues and with Guam’s senior national team.
“Chris started at around seven or eight years old in the Robbie Webber Youth Soccer League,” said Jeffrey Schweizer, Christian’s father. “I felt from the very beginning he had a very good sense of the game.
“GFA has incredible programs and facilities in Guam. The Robbie Webber Youth Soccer League was well-run, and practices and games were very accessible and inclusive – it was a great match for our needs … As Chris’ involvement grew in the sport, this great match continued with the extraordinary opportunities offered through GFA and its national team programs,” the elder Schweizer added.
Christian Schweizer currently is one of the few successful high school students consistently training with the Matao. The national team has two more tournaments this year – the Paulino Alcantara Cup in the Philippines next month and the second round of the East Asian Cup in Hong Kong in December.