Texas player loves Haliburton Soccer Club
Local league is
relaxing but still a challenge, soccer phenom explains
|By Alex Coop - Staff Writer | August 4, 2016|
She calls soccer her happy place, and every summer while staying at a cottage on Drag Lake with her parents, Hayley Halliday travels from Houston Texas to Haliburton to experience it.
“I love coming up here to play. It’s cool playing against older players and getting that different type of challenge,” Halliday said. “I also met someone here who used to play in Texas and played for the same club I do.”
That soccer club is the Challenge, a high-level team for teen girls in the Houston, South Texas area that is recognized as one of the top clubs in the United States.
Halliday is still in high school, but has already accepted a soccer scholarship from Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
She began playing in Haliburton during the summer when she was still in the local youth league.
The young athlete’s fundamental skills are strong, says league organizer Tom Thurley, adding he has played with and against her for many years.
“She fits right in,” he said.
This year, Thurley said the league has one player from Singapore, one from Mexico and two from Great Britain.
It’s no surprise that multiple international players register for the league every year, he says.
“They all play different styles,” he said. “And when they start talking to each other they get a different perspective of the game.”
Women’s soccer is a big deal in Texas, Halliday explained, and the state has several teams that attract national attention, especially within the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL).
It’s the league the Challenge club plays in.
A key factor that contributes to soccer’s popularity in Texas is the availability and access to fitness programs, private training facilities and various recreational leagues.
“My parents signed me up for technical lessons, fitness, and they made me a lot better,” she said.
Her father Stephen, a major soccer enthusiast, says there are a lot of opportunities to play high-level soccer in Texas, and the tools that help an athlete reach that level are also accessible.
Halliday is involved with soccer to some capacity nearly year-round.
“The number of times she’s out there training is amazing,” Stephen said.
Although Halliday’s summer in Haliburton came to an end last week, she said it was, as always, an exciting time.
“It’s fun meeting new people, seeing everyone else, and telling them my story,” she said. “It’s just a great feeling being around them all and playing the game.”
ALEX COOP is a reporter for The Highlander.