Oscar Curras, Alejandro Estrelles and David Sanz are three kids who are about to complete their freshman year in college. They are football players and all of them are seeking a professional career. To achieve their goal, they have moved to the US with a scholarship to enjoy football and get a degree in some of the most prestigious schools in the country. “It took me a while to adapt to the new country, but I would recommend this option to everybody”, explains Oscar to Digital Football Community, an idea that share the other kids interviewed for this piece.
More than 80 Spanish football players started his college career in the US the last summer. In the last four years, the number of Spanish footballers playing in the NCAA has increased six times. AGM Sports is the leading company in Spain helping young kids and their families to get academic scholarships through sport. Since 2004 they’ve collected more than 70 million in scholarships - 15 of them have been for football players -. AGM provides visibility and engagement with coaches and recruiters and support during the whole process.
The recruitment process. Highlights videos
“Coaches have access to your videos in your profile. I uploaded a highlights compilation. A couple of recruiters were interested and they requested for a full game”, explains Alejandro. “I hired a cameraman to prepare the material for the scouts”, adds David, who played five years in Racing de Santander’s academy. In terms of recruiting, football has a problem that comes with its nature: stats are an incomplete tool to explain football. “I can’t put up big numbers playing as pure midfielder ”, assumes David. Oscar received three offers very soon, but a showcase AGM hosted in Madrid was the defining moment. “One coach that had contacted me travelled to scout me personally. By the end of the day he talked to me and explained me the program. He promised me that I would be very important for the team and we reached an agreement”.
You’re not in the team without good marks
When you become a student-athlete in the NCAA you can never forget that academics comes first. If you don’t pass your tests, you’re not eligible for the team. The school would eventually cancel the scholarship it the student is not able to catch up with his exams. On the flip side, if the kid accomplishes his academic goals, the NCAA provides the best environment to get the best of both the student and the athlete. “If are competing on the road and you are forced to miss a class, you have no problem catching up with it later. You also have tutors that help you with the lessons”, explains Oscar, who is majoring in Sport Manager in Sacred Heart University.
“One of my teammates had a test in a hotel room during a minicamp with a school supervisor”, explains Alejandro, who is studying International Business in Wisconsin-Madison University. “We attend to compulsory supporting classes for athletes twice a week that help us to improve our grades”, adds David, who is majoring in Health & Fitness Education in the University of Cincinnati. This combination of academics and athletics is unthinkable in Spain right now. Spanish golfer Jon Rahm is an ultimate example of success. He has a degree in Communication from the University of Arizona State and less than one year later after finishing his college tuition is already one of the best players in the world.
The value of recruiting Spanish players
Spanish football reputation peaked in 2010 when the national team won the World Cup. It was the result of decades of work that before conquering back to back Euros and the WC allowed Spain to dominate the youth categories. Many European Federations studied and implement the Spanish farm system in their countries. In an underdeveloped nation in terms of football as the US, a Spanish player adds value to the team. “My coach usually asks me for advice. He orders me to run the team on the pitch”, says Oscar, who puts a couple of examples of his influence on his coach and teammates. “I corrected on bad move one teammate made during a practice and the manager stopped the exercise so I could explain it to the whole team. A couple of teammates have texted me after practice asking for advices”. “My coach also ask for advices on the team needs for the next season and similar stuff”.
Playing professionally after college
Víctor Muñoz, former player of Real Madrid academy, was drafted by the DC United of the MLS after spending four years in UCLA, currently ranked eleventh in the top universities in the world list. Playing college football (soccer indeed) is not a dead-end way to professionalism. “A former teammate has signed for U23 Sunderland and he is going to play the Confederations Cup with New Zealand this summer”, tells Alejandro, an offensive midfielder whose favourite player is Isco, and will pursue a professional career after college. “I will try to become a professional footballer, but if I don’t achieve it, the degree, the experience and the work ethic I’ve learned will remain with me anyway”. David also plans to play professionally. “I will do whatever it takes to achieve it and I think the US is the place to be nowadays. Football is growing here and it’s easier to become a professional than in Spain”. “I wanna make it too. If I can’t become a professional player, I will try to get involved in football in another department”, agrees Oscar.