Player Insider: Year two at Barça Residency Academy
By: Djibril Doumbia
September 20, 2018
I was born in Boulder, Colorado to a German-American mom and a Malian dad. My mom grew up playing soccer and my dad grew up kicking a ball around too, as most kids do in Africa. I began going to Colorado Rapids games with my mom, brother and grandpa when I was just a baby and I watched my older brother play soccer as a kid, I couldn’t wait to start playing.
I started playing soccer at the age of four, I played up a year because I was bigger than the other kids and kicked very hard. Then my team moved into the competitive division that no longer allowed me to play up so I decided to quit soccer at the age of 10. By that point it wasn’t fun, I hated going to practice and it was nice to take a break from the game.
I didn’t play soccer for two years, but that turned out to be a good thing since it made me hungry to play. Sometimes in order to fully appreciate something you have to leave it for a while and by the end of those two years, I was begging my mom to let me try out again.
She agreed and I made the 4th team when I was 12 years old. My coach had been a goalkeeper and must have seen something in this tall, out-of-shape kid and suggested I give it a try. I REALLY didn’t want to play the position since it made me nervous to have that much pressure and focus on me. My mom convinced me to at least try it once. She dragged me to the nearest Play it Again Sports and bought my first pair of goalie gloves… which were some cheap, thin practice gloves. I wore them in the next game, did well and I agreed to be a part-time goalie for that season.
A few seasons later, I finally gave up on wanting to be a field player and concentrated on being a goalkeeper from then on. At that point I was on the 1st team, we had won a State Cup and I was going into high school. My high school team ended up ranking first in the nation and we won the state championship in an overtime battle of PKs that went 14 rounds. It was a game I will never forget and an amazing feeling to win.
I always wanted to play at the highest level possible, so I ended up playing with the Rapids DA and then heard about the Barça Academy opening up and thought I’d at least check it out. I really wanted an environment where everyone was focused on soccer and I could be truly supported in everything I wanted to do to become an even better player.
After tryouts, I was shocked when I found out that I made the team and even more shocked when everything worked out so that I could come last year. It was an amazing, life-changing year and I have no regrets at all. Coming to Barça really allowed me to start building myself as an individual and helped me build my confidence on and off the field.
I also went from feeling like not that great of a student prior to Barça, to finally turning things around and ending last year with a 4.3 GPA. This year I’m off to a really good start academically and one of my goals is to stay up with my school work all year long and finish my senior year strong.
My long-term goal is to play soccer professionally in Japan. I’ve always wanted to travel to Asia as one of my godmothers is from Japan. Her son, my friend Yoshi, passed away two years ago and living for him provides me with a lot of inspiration and motivation in my life. When Andres Iniesta retired from FC Barcelona and joined Vissel Kobe that got me even more interested in playing in Japan. My brother took 4 years of Japanese and spent 5 weeks in Japan last summer and he said I’d love it there.
All in all, I’m really happy to be back at Barça Academy for a second year and I’m extremely grateful to everyone who helped make this possible. I’m excited to be on the U19 Academy team and I’m looking forward to a successful year.
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