Some of the participants from the Young Olympians and Club NJYS Festival. (Photo courtesy of NJYS)

New Jersey Youth Soccer celebrated its Young Olympians and Club NJYS Festival with more than 200 premier Under-10, U-11 and U-12 players last weekend.

These boys and girls had the unique opportunity to compete in a small-sided game format with top talent from throughout the state, further their soccer education and enjoy appearances from professional soccer players representing Sky Blue FC and the Red Bulls.

The boys’ event in Ewing, N.J. was complimented by a visit from Jared Stroud and Tom Barlow, former New Jersey ODP player and recent New York Red Bulls signings. The two Red Bull II players educated boys about the importance of individual practice, mental toughness, being confident and leading a life of strong character.

The girls’ event was highlighted by a visit from Sky Blue FC players Kayla Mills and Michaela Abam. Mills, a Southern California native, spoke to the opportunities that ODP provided her on a pathway to the professional game, noting that “ODP is a great first step into the competitive environment that sets up your future soccer career.”

Abam also expressed her gratefulness to the program by saying that “ODP not only brought out the best in me as a player, but also led to friendships that would outlast a team.”

Mills and Abam encouraged the athletes to take risks and be confident while never losing their passion for the game.

From this event, select boy players will be chosen to play in a scrimmage with the Red Bulls Development School, and select girls will scrimmage with NJ Youth Soccer State Cup champions.