July 25, 2014

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MARTIN, Tenn. – Local area teams and players received more than the price of attendance for the most recent Skyhawk women’s soccer camps on the University of Tennessee at Martin campus as head coach Phil McNamara reached back to his roots to team up with European soccer standout Michael Hughes for instruction.

Over 100 athletes from six different schools, travelling up to five hours away came to UT Martin for its annual Skyhawk High School Girls Team and ID Camps over the past two weeks. Once action got underway, campers received instruction from not only a four time Ohio Valley Conference champion in Skyhawk head coach McNamara, but also one of the top players to hail from Northern Ireland in Hughes.

“It was a pleasure to host Michael at our camp this year,” said McNamara. “He was one of the most gifted players that ever came from my home country of Northern Ireland. Playing in the English Premiere League for over 12 years really speaks for itself.”

At the ripe age of 16, Hughes began his profession career for the Carrick Rangers, before moving to English Premier League squad Manchester City as a trainee in 1988. His career would then move to Strasbourg and West Ham United before eventually seeing stops at Wilbledon, Brimingham City, Crystal Palace, Coventry City and St. Neots Town where he ultimately became a player-coach.

When playing for his country of Northern Ireland, Hughes was exceptional. Hughes was awarded 71 international caps, while scoring on five occasions. Internationally he found the back of the net against Germany on two occasions, while notching goals against perennial power Portugal, Malta and Iceland in a mixture of UEFA and FIFA qualifications.

“It was cool for the campers to learn that Michael had scored on two different occasions against this summer’s World Cup champions Germany during his career for Northern Ireland,” said McNamara.

Following his successful career, Hughes achieved his European A coaching license. He also owns the Carrick Rangers Football Club, the same club that McNamara represented at the youthful age of 18 years old following his two year stint at Aston Villa football club. McNamara went on to achieve the young player of the year award for the Rangers while helping to provide the only senior trophy in the history of the club, the County Antrim Shield in 1993.

Hughes is in charge of his own soccer academy associated with the Carrick Rangers football club and is working towards giving back to the community that supported his dream to become a professional footballer.

“Having Michael work camp this summer was an exciting opportunity for our local Tennessee high school players,” said McNamara. “I know they all enjoyed meeting and working with Michael, with of course a few moments of brilliance from him on the drills and games.”

McNamara and the Skyhawks will now shift their focus with the start of the fall season on the near horizon. Fans will have their first chance to see this season’s squad of Friday, Aug. 15 against Western Kentucky with an exhibition contest at Skyhawk Field slated for 7 p.m. The Skyhawks will open the season the following week with a home opener against Saint Louis on Friday, Aug. 22 at 7 p.m.

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