The development of youth is the key to succeed at any discipline. It has been demonstrated, throughout time, that creating programs to develop the skills of athletes at a young age is crucial to help them reach their full potential. UCR’s athletic committee, at the beginning of the year, approved a proposal from men’s soccer head coach Junior Gonzalez that granted permission to the soccer department to create the first ever University based soccer youth development program. The goal is to develop local talent into future UCR soccer players.The initiative was inspired and based on the recent success in world-class institutions like FC Barcelona and Arsenal FC. Both institutions, with the support of world-class managers Johan Cruyff and Arsene Wenger respectively, were able to create youth development programs that have seen the rising of soccer stars such as Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie. Thanks to these programs FC Barcelona has been able to establish itself as the best team in the planet, winning three European championships in seven years. The case of Arsenal FC is a little different since they haven’t been able to win any trophies in the last seven years, but they still undoubtedly play beautiful soccer. Both teams are characterized by the opportunity they give youngsters to develop on teams in the lower divisions. However, when the right time comes, players are given the opportunity to shine on the top-flight team, something many teams do not do commonly. UCR has seen the success at these institutions and has decided to create their own soccer academy in order to develop youth talent that, in a not-so distant future, will take UCR to the highest level.

The program has been going on since the beginning of the year, and so far it seems that for UCR the future will be of glorious years. The most recent scout reports have brought news of young local talent that is in line to become UCR men’s soccer stars. The program has already signed several young players who have athletically and academically committed to UCR. The most remarkable talents that were spotted by the program are Leopold Disarray, midfielder; George Fields, goalkeeper; and Roberto, a soon to be born baby and striker. Leopold Disarray was spotted in a park in Riverside, while playing for his under-8’s team; it is said that he is the new Maradona. So far this season, he has scored three goals, albeit with his hands. George Fields is a three-year old goalkeeper who would not stop hugging a ball he was given during his birthday party; the scouts noted that he has secure hands and a natural love for the ball. Roberto, the baby soon to be born, is a powerful left-footed striker who was spotted by the scouts while at a baby shower back in February; the scouts reported that his left foot consistently and powerfully kicked the mother from the inside out. The future looks bright for UCR with these new signings and hopefully in a not-so distant future they will bring a championship to Riverside.