Highlights — 18 August 2018
Young Belizean footballer on threshold of  Barcelona dreams

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 16, 2018– For a couple more days, there is still a realistic possibility that a young Belizean football player from Mango Creek, Independence, could make a giant leap into a world of limitless possibilities, as he presently stands at the threshold of enrollment in FC Barcelona’s Youth Soccer Academy in Casa Grande, Arizona, USA.

Over the past weekend, football great of Juventus and Sagitun fame, Hilberto “Hilly” Muschamp accompanied his 16-year-old son, Jardehl, to the Barca Academy Tryouts in Arizona.  This was the third such camp over the past year, where the Barca Academy scouts evaluated aspiring youths, and selected the best few to enter their full time program. Having just graduated from Independence High School, after being assigned for weekly personal training under the legendary Norman “Tilliman” Pipersburgh, Jardehl was among some 68 kids from 27 states of the U.S. and 4 foreign countries who took part in the recent Barca tryouts; and Jardehl was 1 of only 3 selected and accepted to become “a member of the Barca Academy family.”

Getting selected was a huge achievement, and Hilly credits Tilliman for much of his success.  “When Tilliman began training Jardehl a few months ago, he couldn’t use his left foot well; but by the time we took the trip, he was equally capable with both feet. So it made no difference to him when the coach put him to play on the left wing.”

As Hilly explained, they left Belize last Thursday, August 9, and the tryouts in Arizona took place from Friday to Sunday, August 10 to 12. And following the tryouts, in which Jardehl scored two goals in each game he played, coach Chris met with Hilly, as he did with other parents individually, and gave his evaluation of Jardehl’s performance. He later received a letter from Director of Recruitment and Soccer Operations, Miha Kline, which stated:

“Our coaching staff has evaluated and discussed the level of your talent and the skillset you showcased during the camp. We were very impressed by the level of your talent, your performance on the field and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you off the field as well.  Therefore, we believe you have the talent and potential to become an invaluable member of our academy and would like to extend you an offer to join our U17 PreAcademy team. Please consider this as an official invitation to join the Barca Academy for the 2018/2019 school year.”

Unfortunately, there remains one major hurdle for Jardehl – financing.  After the two previous Barca camps, most of the full-scholarships available have reportedly been taken up; and the one-year Academy cost, including education at Arizona State University Prep High School, is some US $69,000.00. That’s a tall order, and today Hilly said that he is submitting his request for scholarship assistance from the Academy; and expects an answer in two days’ time.

According to Hilly, the success rate of selected attendees in this one-year program is stunning; 100% of student athletes in the Barca Academy program either go on to full-time college degree courses or secure a professional football contract.

You are only sixteen once, and with such immense possibilities for a promising Belizean youth, we join family and friends in praying for a positive response to his request for scholarship assistance.

P.S.  Attention FFB, Ministry of Education and Sports, and local financial institutions – if it comes down to that, might not this be a case to consider for securing a loan or floating a “bond” to ensure that this golden opportunity might not be lost to a youth who has proven his abilities and potential to the experts of the prestigious Barca Academy?

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Deshawn Swasey

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