A talented group of young footballers are edging ever closer to realising their American Soccer Scholarship dreams thanks to a pioneering initiative from E-Sports FC.
Alex Hupe, Jack Manson, Hammam Abdelrazig and Simon Galviz, who are all part of E-Sports FC Elite U18 team, spent last summer showcasing their skills in front of some of the USA’s most prestigious colleges.
Despite the unfamiliar environment and immense pressure, the boys rose to the challenge, and are now back in Dubai preparing minds and bodies for another summer in the USA, where they will again aim to show the Collegiate coaches that they have what it takes.
For Terry Kidd, the mastermind behind EFC’s College Elite program, the opportunity to combine elite sport and academics is a huge opportunity for Dubai’s aspiring athletes:
“For me this is the new ‘’Making it’’ for such talented individuals. The campuses and athletic facilities at these universities are truly world class. As a former professional soccer player myself I can honestly say that some of these facilities are unrivalled; even in the professional game."
Although Kidd admits that the competition for places is stiff, he’s confident his players are doing everything they can to make their dream a reality:
"The competition for access and acceptance into a top school in the U.S. is ultra-competitive, therefore it is imperative that the boys enter these camps full prepared and conditioned both academically and athletically.
Aside from have five contact days with EFC, these student athletes spend 3 days developing strength and conditioning one hour before school (6-7am) and then two hours every Friday preparing for their Student Aptitude Test (SAT exam). This for me is the ultimate commitment and really shows what it takes to to reach the top, even at collegiate level, as some may consider this as a plan B away from professional sports."
Despite the competition, Kidd believes his (and many more players in the region) have what the Colleges are looking for:
"Not only are these youngsters top Soccer players with serious athletic ability; they are also very academic with highly competitive scholastic profiles, which ticks all the right boxes when considering a sports scholarship.
Dubai, I believe, will become a serious recruitment hub for the U.S. considering the profile of youngsters coming through. Education and sports marrying into one is the future for a very talented and bright generation."
Kidd also believes the early exposure to the Collegiate system has been hugely advantageous to his players:
"The prospect ID camps that the boys have competed in have really exposed them to life as a student athlete; providing a life-on-campus experience, and a full insight into how rigorous the programs on offer really are when managing life as a student-athlete.
Having been to the States twice already, these boys now have some serious traction and very strong open dialogue with a number of top university soccer head coaches and admissions representatives."
When asked if the program has acted as a motivator for the players, Kidd was in no doubt:
"The motivation these students have gained from these trips has really improved their overall standards of approach to school and sports. It is no coincidence the success these boys are experiencing locally of late."
And although the initiative is still in its’ infancy, Kidd believes the Academy are blazing a trail for future generations:
"We’re now opening the College Elite program to our Under 14s after signs of serious prospect across the age band of players coming through. The 2017 College Elite tour will be offered to the Under 14s group as we firmly believe the earlier they have exposure to the collegiate system and opportunities the better for all the obvious reasons."