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Posted by Marketing, 19th October 2016
Merritt Jaxx Morine
Born July 14th, 2002
Current Club: Lakehead Express (Thunder Bay, ON)
Interests: Soccer, Cheerleading and Basketball
Ambitions: Play for Team Canada and become a Sports Trainer
Number of ID Camps Attended: 4
Number of National Camps Attended: 5
Number of Elite Trips Invites: 3
Merritt Morine is an example of a stand-out GIS player. Shy and nervous at first glance but with a determination and love for the game of soccer that impacts all around her. Frequently invited to the National Camps and Elite Trip programs – this talented young soccer player has made Italy her second home after travelling across 4 states, 2 provinces and 9 cities to get there.
Hi Merritt – can you tell us a bit about your soccer background and where your love of the sport comes from?
I started playing when I was 5 years old! From the age of 9 I was playing rec level soccer and competitive games. This was what we call a fundamentals league but my Dad played up to state level so I was always around a soccer ball from a very young age. In the area we live in, there are two serious clubs – Thunder Bay Chill and Lakehead Express and I have been lucky enough to play for both since the age of 9. My current coaches Rob Pasqualino and Savario Lento put me in alongside the boys as I always feel I need more of the competitive training!
When did GIS first appear on the scene?
We first found out after speaking to a local girl who had attended a GIS camp with West Ham United so I thought I’d try it myself. Three years later and I’ve managed to go to the camp each year – earning 3 elite trip invites and 5 national camp invites along the way.
What are the main differences between the training that you notice?
Chievo is a lot more technical – a lot of work on ball control, dealing with balls in the air, bounces, volleys, throws and receiving the football. West Ham is more about the ball being on the ground and understanding tactics. Doing both as a player helps me double up and cover both areas in a shorter time span! I love the bicycle kick shooting practice with Chievo and also the foot skill program with West Ham.
And you enjoy doing both?
Yes! I think you have to because you can take the best bits from both and use them to help yourself as a player. A lot of players in the local area have been hearing about the training I’ve been doing, the trips I’ve been on and the impact it’s had on me so they are now going to GIS camps to try out themselves. We don’t have anything like this in our city so to have access to this level of soccer training and these kinds of opportunities is really special.
You mentioned the trips you’ve been on – where did you end up going?
The first time I attended a ChievoVerona National Camp, I got invited back to Italy! I absolutely loved it – we were lucky enough to see AC Milan v Chievo in Serie A and training alongside the Italians was very special – but they were extremely good! It made me see the level they were able to reach and playing alongside their team was a tremendous honour. It was also tough to get used to the speed with which they play but it was a brilliant experience and it made me realise what I have to do to improve.
How do you think you’ve improved as a player over the last few years then?
2 years ago I was not a confident player at all – now I am the engine room of the team. I have better footwork, I’m faster and I can identify the gaps in the opposition much quicker. I’ve also got a stronger shot and I understand better where the ball should be going before I receive it.
While at the Chievo National Camp this past August in Arizona, my mom was sitting with a Californian coach who ended up inviting me to play in a tournament in Stanford! So straight after the National Camp we flew to San Francisco, trained with them for a week and finished runner up in the Stanford Classic! They’ve invited me back for another tournament with more to come in 2017 – this wouldn’t have been possible I don’t think 2 years ago so it’s nice for me to know I’m always improving and getting better.
I’ve also been invited to train and work alongside teams from Oakville, Ontario, Canada, Riverside, California and Minneapolis!
That’s fantastic! Well done! How was the rest of the National Camp?
It’s really hot all day! You have to be very careful but also very clever with what you do. It’s not humid like the National Camps in Georgia, which I prefer, but it does cool down at night a little bit. It’s an amazing camp and it goes to show how good the coaches are if you can improve and feel that improvement in just 4 days of really good and focused coaching. I am so grateful to GIS and know I would not be the player I am today without them.
And what are your targets for the future Merritt?
I’d like to trial for the provincial team and hopefully the state team. The ultimate goal would be Team Canada! With GIS – I’d like to do a trip to England, which may be possible as I got selected from the West Ham National Camp this year! Playing football in England is the ultimate dream and I can imagine playing alongside Katie Bottom, who coached me at the National Camp this year and who was an amazing coach and player.
What would you say the best things are about the GIS partnership?
I like the variety – we get access to different kinds of training so we always learn something new. I think as well it has made me a more confident person and player by forcing me to adapt and really get out of my comfort zone. I was talking to a lot of girls at the Chievo camp in Arizona this year and they ALL want to come to Italy now! I think the best thing is the coaching though – I’ve been so lucky to have been trained by some of the best coaches from around the world. My Mom and I worked out we have done about 120 hours of training with GIS programs. Oh, and meeting a lot of friends on Snapchat and Instagram and keeping in touch with them as a result of GIS camps is also a nice bonus – we choose to go to the camps so we can all see each other again!
Merritt was talking to Darran Walter, Operations & Pro Club Liaison Officer for GIS Europe.