26 Jan Player Insider: A Dream in the Making
January 25, 2018
Written by: Drew, U-16 Barça Academy Player
I was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Like many active kids, I grew up playing many sports including baseball, basketball, football, wrestling, and soccer. I had no idea that I would ever choose soccer as my sport. When I was five I moved from Birmingham, Alabama to Denver, Colorado. In Denver, I continued to play many sports, until I was about ten years old. Around ten years old, I noticed that sports were a commitment and I couldn’t be the best at everything. I dropped basketball and football first, because many kids were getting a lot bigger and taller than me. About a year later I stopped playing baseball, and I remember my mom being extremely happy that she didn’t have to go sit in 90-degree weather and watch arguably the most boring sport. Then I started to really focus on wrestling and soccer.
My Dad was a very good wrestler in high school and college and he started to push me to become a good wrestler like him. We would drive an hour to an hour and a half to practice, 3-4 times a week, and the other 3-4 days a week I would drive 15 minutes to soccer practice. The wrestling practices were the best training in Colorado. This sacrifice wasn’t for nothing though, I trained hard enough to win the state championship and take 5th place at nationals. Around this time though I started to not like wrestling, it felt like a job and I would train too hard, too much. Most wrestling practice nights I would get home at 10 o’clock and also I was struggling with balancing my love for soccer. I loved the challenge that every day of soccer practice brought and the satisfaction of winning every game.
When I was about eleven, I stopped wrestling and decided to focus solely on soccer because I had a lot of work to do. I was by far the worst player on my team because most kids only played soccer and they had dedicated all their time to the sport. My goal was to be the best player on the team. I have always been dedicated, so this goal didn’t seem too far-fetched. I worked on my own in my backyard juggling and doing footwork for many hours a week; on top of this I had a private trainer. When I was about 13 or 14 I started to notice that my work was paying off as I became one of the best players on my team. Through this journey and process, I absolutely fell in love with the game and my dream was to become a professional soccer player.
This past summer I came to Barça Academy because I wanted to pursue my goal of being a professional soccer player and this was one the best decisions I have made in my life. I believe that my first semester here has been extremely productive. I have learned so much. I have learned little details about body positioning and big concepts on how to press effectively. I feel the biggest thing that has changed is my mindset of how to play football. Over my Christmas break I went back and watched some Colorado teams play and it didn’t feel or look like proper football. Here at Barça, it is about one and two touch, bumping the ball in and out of tight pockets of space to finally find a pocket big enough to break out of and attack. When I went home I saw midfielders taking excessive touches and dribbling into center backs. I also saw that kids had the thought to dribble first and to try to get to goal as fast as possible. This made for lots of changes in possession and an overall ugly style of play. Barça academy has taught me a lot and their methodology comes straight from Spain. I believe it is the best place in the United States for players to develop. Coming here has gotten me one step closer to my goal of becoming a professional.
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