Growing Up At Fulham: Life As An American Youth In A Foreign Academy (SI.com)

From SI.com:

MOTSPUR PARK, England – Without a soccer team of his own to coach for the first time in about four decades, former FC Dallas manager, Jujutsu black belt and “Most Interesting Man in the World” contender Schellas Hyndman took a February trip to London to visit his grandson.

Hyndman was born in Macau, to which his Portuguese father and French-Russian mother fled following China’s communist revolution. When Hyndman was a boy, his family moved to Ohio, reportedly making most of the journey in the hull of a cargo ship. The silver lining to that early chaos was that Hyndman’s son, Tony, and his Dallas-born grandson, Emerson, were eligible for Portuguese passports. And that passport eased Emerson’s journey to England, where he’s been playing for Fulham FC since 2011.

“We were spending some time together, chatting, and then he said, ‘I’ve got to go to work.’ Very matter of fact. Isn’t that an amazing statement? He was 17 at the time,” Schellas Hyndman recalled. “I was taken back on that and then I said, ‘You know what? He’s a signed professional.’ They’re paying him. They’ve got him in a beautiful condo right on the Thames River. They’ve invested so much into his development and they’ve educated these young players by telling them, ‘This is a job. You need to show up and perform.’”

Life away from friends and family is becoming the norm for a lot of USMNT youth prospects. MLS and US Soccer are currently trying to improve the various club academies and insure that our youth players do not need to go abroad to fully develop. However, the youth development system at the US is still far behind the European youth development system. One day American youths will not need to go to Europe to become the best players they can be but until then uprooting their life and spending their formative years in Europe is the risk they need to take to help make sure they become the best professional soccer players they can be. This article perfectly describes how difficult the transition is for these players but also shows just how mentally mature these players have become by belonging to foreign academies. They know the decision they are making and they fully accept the challenge. After reading this article I am a lot more confident in our youth prospects and the training they are receiving. I hope that the risk they are taking pays them back tenfold because these kids sound like they deserve to reap the rewards of all their hard work.

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