Orion Mills competes on U.S. Virgin Island National Team.
U.S. Virgin Islands had yet to compete at the Under-20 Championship at the national level until about a month ago. WRA sophomore Orion Mills was part of this history-making program as a representative of his country — playing in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Under-20 Championship.
The tournament consisted of over 30 teams from around the world. Throughout the week Mills and the U.S. Virgin Islands matched up with the United States of America, Suriname, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The tournament was held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. From November 1-10, the CONCACAF tournament was structured so that each team would compete every other day, allowing training sessions in between. Mills, only 16 years old, found himself wearing number 3 and was positioned at right wing or right back with his country's name across his chest. Mills said he was proud to wear this and said, "It means a lot to represent where I'm from. Most of us are 16 or 17 and played together when we were younger. I know these guys, I grew up with them."
Reflecting back, Mills was asked to highlight an experience and said, "Getting to play against team USA. I look up to all those players and they already play at the professional level."
Although the U.S. Virgin Islands suffered a 13-0 loss to the United States, it is a game and opportunity that Mills will never forget. He was also impressed by the amenities and facilities that were provided. He said, "The environment was really good too... the professionalism makes you feel like a professional player."
Mills is a member of the U.S. Virgin Island's U17 and U20 team and declined an offer to play with the Senior team. Throughout 2019, Mills will compete on his country's U17 team and he confirmed that his time playing up an age group and competing in the 2018 CONCACAF tournament will greatly impact his athletic development. "I am looking forward to U17 so having this experience at U20 will really help a lot at this level," he said.
Although the U.S. Virgin Islands were not as successful as they would have hoped to be, the future looks bright for the team and their young players.
View the full version of The Reserve Replay: Nov. 23 here.