It's not every day someone from Cochrane gets invited to coach the Colombian National U17 Men's Soccer team.

But that's exactly what happened to John Castrillon, the Technical Director of Cochrane soccer who just returned from the South American country after two weeks.

Castrillon, a native of Colombia that has lived in Canada for 40 years, was invited by the Colombian Soccer Federation and Technical Committee to help with the team.

He says the experience was unforgettable. "The team left for their qualification round in Chile. They left Sunday, February 19th so I went there and shared a hotel and worked with them and it was fantastic. I was basically a part of the family. I don't have words to experience everything I just went through."

Castrillon says the difference between soccer in Canada and Colombia boils down to one thing. "I think that technically Canada compares to anyone in the world. Where I see a huge difference is these [Colombian] kids are already playing professional at 16, 17 and they're surrounded by this culture of sports. The kids are extremely strong, I can tell you that."

Castrillon thinks he learned just as much as he taught in Colombia. "I learned a lot from a tactical point of view and their system, the way they train compared to what we do here. I took a lot from the human side, the way they shared everything together, the openness and everything."  

As for the Cochrane program, Castrillon says he'll bring some things he learned, but the program won't change a lot.

"We're about development first. Technically, I think we're very good, but we want to make sure kids enjoy the game first and have fun and then get to more serious training in the future. Good education and training for our coaches is important. I'm really excited about everything we're doing and I'll keep working hard."  

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