City's Hemming sees U.K. camp as a challenge
Friday, July 13, 2001
By STEVE GREEN, Free Press Sports Reporter
It's been four days now since he got the news and the smile still hasn't left Tyler Hemming's face. The 16-year-old prodigy with London City of the Canadian Professional Soccer League will head for a two-week trial in early September with the youth squads of Grimsby Town of the English First Division. It's a feather in the cap for both City and the London Soccer Academy. "I just want to go over there, have a good time, train hard and learn as much as possible," Hemming said. "I'll be learning a different style of play -- how they play in the big leagues. I'm nervous about going but I'll take it as a challenge." Grimsby's youth director, Ian Knight, spent a week in London looking at Hemming and other academy players in action with their respective club sides. "From our point of view, the only cost to (Grimsby) is my time here," Knight said at last Friday's CPSL game between City and Brampton at Cove Road Field. "If we pick up just one boy and get him into the professional ranks of the club, then this arrangement (with City and the academy) will have been worth it. "Boys within the academy structure need to be pushed in every way possible. It's all about passion, and drive, dedication and commitment. And that's something the players have to put in themselves. "What we have to do with these players is show them the possibility that it does work." It's a possibility Hemming didn't dare dream of when the season began. He only turned out for City's open tryouts to get in some extra training. "I thought maybe I'd get into a couple of games. I certainly didn't expect to start any, and I didn't expect to score a goal (June 24 at Durham). I thought I might get looked at by some teams but I never thought I'd actually be going over to England." He agrees that playing against men much older than he is has helped. "I'm used to playing against faster and stronger guys," he said. "I know all the tricks. "I've always been able to play all the positions, but playing defence (in the CPSL) has made me more confident against players of that age and skill level. There's a lot of weight on your shoulders." City general manager Harry Gauss sounded even more pleased than Hemming, if that was possible. "I'm just so happy for the kid," Gauss said. "I was ready to cry in the dressing room when Ian told him. This kid deserves it. Sure, we'll be losing the kid, but the negative of that is so very minimal compared to the positives. "He knows he has to be better than anything they have over there if he's going to stick and Ian said from what's he's seen of him, he believes he is. If Tyler does two years over there, you'll see him on TV some day."