Ever wanted your chance to train with professional soccer players? At Gotham FC’s Fantasy Camp this Saturday, fans of the club got to do just that.
Hosted by Downtown United SC (DUSC), the group that co-operates the Gotham Reserves team, the three hour event gave 15 lucky registrants the chance to get one-on-one time with Gotham FC coaches, as well as the Gotham FC team captain, McCall Zerboni.
For Zerboni, the idea to host a camp for adults was refreshing. “It’s great to offer this opportunity to adults,” she told Jersey Sporting News. “The more ways we can connect with the community and give opportunities to all kinds of people, the better!”
Leanne Campbell, the Operations Manager & Women’s Director for DUSC, headed up organizing the event, which was held at SoFive in Brooklyn, New York. “Gotham is New Jersey and New York,” Campbell said. “This event helps them get them involved in the New York City area and engage with the fans.” She hopes to organize more adult focused camps in conjunction with Gotham FC in the upcoming years. “Our relationship with Gotham is excellent,” Campbell said. “The reserves team was a big success last year.”
In fact, the Gotham Reserves dominated in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) this season, winning all nine games. The WPSL is the second tier in women’s professional soccer, operating below the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). The season runs from May to July, which allows players to return to their college teams at the conclusion of the competition.
Zerboni is excited about the future of the relationship between Gotham Reserves and the Gotham FC senior team. “I think it’s really healthy to have that direct pipeline for players,” she said.
Addressing the group before the event, Gotham FC head coach Scott Parkinson joked that they would be looking for the next Carli Lloyd, generating laughs from the crowd. The participants were then brought through a complete afternoon of training led in part by last year’s Gotham Reserves captain Samatha Rosette.
“I am excited to be here and connect with people who are excited about women’s soccer,” Rosette said. “I’m very excited about the growth of Gotham FC, and the growth of the game in New York City.”
Rosette, a Bronx native, currently coaches various youth teams for DUSC, but hopes to continue playing professionally. “Gotham Reserves was a great springboard into my pro career,” Rosette said. She just returned from playing in Kazakstan where she competed in the UEFA Women’s Champions League with her team BIIK-Shymkent.
After attendees completed warmups, passing drills, dribbling exercises, and shooting practice, the group split up to play a series of mini-tournaments. Participants were thrilled with the event, even if getting a taste of what professionals go through every day was physically draining.
According to Ruby Pinto, participating in the event was exhausting, but worth it. “It was so much fun to be able to meet and play with other Gotham supporters,” Pinto said. “Having the Gotham head coach [Scott Parkinson] personally motivating me from the sidelines was amazing. I would definitely do it again!”
Participants were then given the opportunity to ask Zerboni about her career. She answered questions about what it’s like to play at Red Bull Arena (it’s wonderful), what her game day hype music is (dirty hip hop), her favorite moment at Gotham this year (beating her former team the North Carolina Courage), and who would be her dream team for five a side (hint: it includes Gotham forward Margaret Purce).
As for her own future, Zerboni says she’s all in for playing at the moment, but is not ruling out a career in coaching. “It’s not out of the question!” She said. "I’m really passionate about soccer so if I can stay in the game, that would bring me joy.”