Payson High School soccer standout Branden Peters hopes to raise the needed cash quickly for a chance of a lifetime to compete with other players from around the world in Australia. While there he will also have the chance to learn about social cultures very different from anything he has seen before.
The 19-year-old PHS senior was the only soccer player to be nominated to compete in the GSI Sports Down Under competition.
"They look at your stats and stuff like that and then they go from there," Peters said.
Participants will stay in the homes of local hosts, keeping the trip costs at a minimum. They have the opportunity to travel as exchange students during the 15-day excursion and even attend school with their Australian host where they'll share American customs and culture with their classmates.
Their busy schedule includes practice games and tournament competitions in Cairns and in the Toowoomba International Youth Sports Challenge.
They will also have the chance to visit the Great Barrier Reef and an aboriginal village where they will learn about their culture. The trip will also provide them with a chance to cuddle a koala, feed the kangaroos, participate in sheep shearing and top off the trip with a three-day stay in Hawaii.
Peters said he was only 6 years old when he kicked his first soccer ball. Little did he know the passion he had for the game would wind up taking him halfway around the world.
"I like the feeling of scoring. but I really like the fact that soccer is a team sport," Peters said. "You can't go out there and do it by yourself. You have to have a team."
Peters who is known for his outstanding abilities at the center forward position said he's excited about playing soccer but is also looking forward to experiencing a different culture.
"We go to an aborigine town where they have no running water or electricity, and I think that will be interesting," he said.
After the trip, Peters hopes to get in some more serious playing time before he serves a two-year mission for the Mormon Church. Following that, he said he'll stay focused on soccer.
"This trip to Australia is something that will look very good in a walk-on application and that's what I hope to do at Penn State University," he said.
Peters hopes to be winging his way down under July 11, but he said it all boils down to raising the needed $2,400 which covers the cost of the trip.
"I need $700 by April, another $700 by May and the balance before June," Peters said "I've been getting donations from my church and we'll be doing a car wash in the near future and a yard sale down the road when the weather looks better."
Every contributor of $5 will also receive a raffle ticket from G'Day Sports International toward a round-trip airfare for two to Australia.
To make a donation to the Branden Peters Australia fund, stop by Bank of America account no. 00467565603 or mail it to: Branden Peters, P.O. Box 982, Pine, AZ 85544