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July 3, 2014

Filling his own World Cup

GREENVILLE — The participation of the United States Men’s Soccer Team in the World Cup may be over, but a local youth is preparing to travel overseas this week to participate in several games.

Maddox Stephens, 10, of Greenville leaves Saturday for his own soccer adventure.

Stephens will arrive in Istanbul, Turkey and will play games for two weeks in locations across Europe.

“He will be in several cities in Austria and several other cities in Germany,” Gail Stephens, his grandmother, pointed out.

Stephens plays for the Liverpool FC America Destination 1, 3, Travel Team.

“I’m a utility player, but I usually play midfield and forward,” he said.

Stephens is the only area resident to get to go on the trip, where he will be joining several more players from the Dallas/Fort Worth area who participate in the Classic 2 League.

Stephens, who turns 11 on July 31,  just graduated from Bowie Elementary and will be attending the Sixth Grade Center in the fall.

He realizes the teams will be facing some stiff competition in Europe.

“In Munich, we get to play against the Bayern Munich team,” Stephens said, before mentioning how he is also looking forward to visiting a pub in the city.

Gail explained that one of the sight-seeing excursions will be to a pub in Munich, where Maddox and the other properly chaperoned youngsters will get to watch a World Cup game alongside some local football fans.

There are about a dozen players on a team in the league, with Stephens one of only five from his team to make the trip.

Stephens has been playing soccer since he was 4, and played for the program offered by the Greenville/Hunt County YMCA under coach Gary Hill.

Stephens hopes to play soccer all the way through at least high school, but it is not his only interest.

Gail said he also has been active in flag football and basketball.

“I also like to jump on a trampoline,” he said, adding swimming is one of his favorite things to do.

“His uncle just acquired a swimming pool,” Gail said.

Stephens, the oldest of four siblings, also is looking forward to visiting Europe’s major historic attractions and bringing home souvenirs for his family.

He operated a lemonade stand and did all sorts of odd jobs to raise money for the journey, which he is excited about taking.

“A lot,” Stephens said if he was anticipating the trip. “A lot, a lot, a lot.”

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