Your Letters & Pictures

A summer that changed my life. By Toby Rappolt



Hey Gianni,

Jim Broshar is a great friend of mine. He and I went to the same high
school and played on the soccer team together. Ernie Feibusch was,
well actually Ernie still is, our coach. Ernie is a mentor to both of us.
I owe a lot to Ernie Feibusch, so does Jim and hundreds of other players.

Coach Feibusch gave us an application for the Football Association's Schoolboys Course at the Bank of England Sportground in London.
In the summer of 1972 Jim and I, we were 15 and 16 years old, got on
a plane and went to England. We were the only foreigners at the course.
We absolutely loved it. I don't think there were many American soccer
players leaving the country to play soccer at that time.

The things I remember most about the Schoolboys Course were:

(my God, this was 35 years ago!!)

Jim could shave but I couldn't and I was older.
The dingy, foul smelling apartment we lived in.
Eating bad lamb, I think it was mutton, because it was the cheapest
food/meat we could buy. It was our protein source for 2 weeks. We
even made soup out of the bones. I hate the taste and smell of lamb
to this day.

Jim was playing in goal in a practice game. He had possession of the
ball and threw it behind his back to his outside left fullback like a
basketball player. THE ENGLISH COACHES WENT BERSERK!!! "what
the bleeding' hell do you think you're doing son?". I guess it wasn't in the textbooks. Yankee ingenuity at work.

One of the coaches saying to me in his English accent "You played a
great game of football today young Toby." I will NEVER forget what he
said to me for as long as I live. When I think about it now, it reminds me
of the power of positive reinforcement. The rest of the week I felt like
I could do anything I wanted with the ball, even though I probably didn't.
He pumped me full of confidence with that one sentence comment.

Drinking Shandy, a mixture of beer and lime soda, at lunch. I
remember thinking I must be a man now because they are letting
me drink beer.
A player fell inside the goal on the netting and the entire wooden goal collapsing over him. He was trapped inside the netting. Everyone
laughed but he could have been killed.

I was picked to play against the Chelsea apprentice professionals in
a match the next day. I couldn't believe it!!!! Those two words CHELSEA
and PROFESSIONALS. It's all I could think about. CHELSEA.
PROFESSIONALS.

Jim and I got to the field late for the pre-game warm-up and my name
had been scratched off the player's list. I went into one of the restrooms
and cried alone.

The summer before in San Francisco a YMCA boy's team from the
northwest of England traveled through SF and played us. Well "played"
isn't a good word, more like killed us. They were very strong, aggressive
and tackled ferociously. The manager of the English team told me that if
I ever were in England to contact him. So I did.
When the course was over I called the manager. He told me to come
up north. I traveled to the northwest of England, to the county of
Lancashire and the town of Lytham St. Annes. I played with their under
17 team the rest of the summer. We played against a team from
Maryland. I still have the newspaper article and photo. 11 of us and
the manager got in a Bedford van and drove across England, Belgium,
and Germany playing other YMCAs.

We also went through Austria to Yugoslavia just for a holiday. We
were supposed to go to Greece but stopped and stayed on the island
of Rab in Yugoslavia. We played informal games against the locals boys
our age and men. I remember the trip cost me $60.00 which was a
fortune for me at the time. We went back to England and I stayed at
4 or 5 different players homes. The guy I made best friends with was
the poorest kid on the team. We are STILL in contact with each other
to this day. I may see him this April for the first time in 35 years.

I went to my first professional game at Old Trafford. Manchester
United vs. Chelsea. My heart still races when I think about that
experience. Standing in the Stretford End, the crowd swaying, the
singing, the chanting, the clapping, George Best, Bobby Charlton,
Peter Osgood.

I will never forget that summer. It changed my life. The game of
soccer went from being something I simply loved to play, to something
bigger than life itself.

I'm sorry I wrote so much. When I saw Jim Broshar's name in your
newsletter, all those wonderful memories came rushing back.

Yours in the Great Game,

Toby


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What a great memories! Thanks very much Coach Toby. It will be a
great surprise for Coach Jim Broshar. Iím sure that your memories will
give the right feeling and motivation to my youths and adults readers.
Exactly what all of us need: a sincere, spontaneous and unconditioned
love for the beautiful game!

Coach Gianni
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Posted on 16 Mar 2007 by coachgianni
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