Over the years, I have worked with all kinds of kids in soccer and the comments that I overhear at times are surprising. Many feel that they are on their way to professional careers in soccer. The «big show» if you will. Nothing is wrong with dreaming. And if you’re going to dream you might as well dream big. Yes some players are good but it goes far beyond that to play at the next level. In terms of planning your soccer future it is so very cliché but one must have other career options in their back pocket and that can start with a solid academic base. And if you don’t have that academic base it’s not the end of the world either. There are always options.
Some players may be fortunate enough to receive trials with MLS youth clubs but in all retrospect until a club comes literally to your house and says they want you to play for them (this includes offering money and a contract) you are no further ahead in soccer professional career than the next amateur player.
This is not to be a dream crusher but all too often players will drop their academic endeavors and simply feel that «something will come along» or they have «a contact that will help them» and that’s it. Their soccer careers will one day explode and go to new heights. Big contracts will come, sponsors will come in and they will be playing in packed stadiums.
For North American players, the better option would be to attain good grades all the while pursue your soccer career. It is always good to have a plan B. Do what you must to attain good grades. Study late, study on your breaks, at lunch, after school hours, on weekends, hire a tutor if you must, and surround yourself with other aspiring/strong students whom you will learn from on many different levels. Finally, take summer school to get ahead and maintain your rhythm in school year around.
Having good grades will make the recruitment process so much easier for coaches come time to play college soccer. If you have good grades, they can speed along your file not to mention give academic scholarships. Don’t forget that there aren’t even 11 full soccer scholarships in college which means that despite your talent many players are on partial scholarships (and some don’t receive anything).
Further down the line, if you transfer schools or decide that soccer is not going to pay the bills for the long haul you will have developed other abilities, made different contacts and developed new interests. This in itself will help you down new paths and help with your back-up plan.
I support any player that wants to pursue a soccer career but in reality don’t be so naïve. There is there is so much competition and there are so few opportunities for young players in North America that you must have a strong plan to help you get from A to B and a strong back-up plan. There are far too many other intangibles at play. Finally, when it comes to colleges there are several options. There is division 1, division 2, division 3 and NAIA. So even if your grades aren’t the greatest there are many avenues you can take all the while pursuing the next level.