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British soccer team stunned as Charlotte residents help pay expense

Apr 21, 2010 6:55:00 AM - thestate.com
Hundreds of Charlotte families have opened their hearts and checkbooks to help a British boys' soccer team stranded in this area - for the next two weeks - by Iceland's erupting volcano.

The under-18 squad from Reading, England, boasts promising players with professional aspirations who came to Charlotte last week to compete. They won the annual Julian Brown Memorial Cup over the weekend, and taught skills clinics to area youngsters.

But as players prepared to return on Monday, the team learned its flight home to London had been canceled. Menacing ash clouds spewed from the volcano have crippled air traffic across much of Europe for days.

Although some flights resumed Tuesday through London, returning flights are jammed. The Reading team - which lives and plays about an hour west of the capital city - can't get home until May 3.

So the 21 players, coaches and friends are now camped out at Ballantyne's Aloft hotel, with most expenses paid, thanks to the generosity of Charlotte's extended soccer community.

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