Bay Area youngster at Real Madrid youth academy

I came across this recent article in the San Jose Mercury News courtesy a tweet from @24x7soccerus that describes one of our local boy’s experiences at the Real Madrid youth academy in Spain. I paste the full article below.

His name is Joshua Pynadath (click here for his Real Madrid profile) and I believe he’s in eighth grade now. Here’s a clip of Joshua @Real Madrid:

He was at local club Red Star Soccer Academy for a couple of years and then moved to local club De Anza Force. Jeff Baicher, DOC at De Anza Force, recommended Joshua to Real Madrid in Spain when his parents moved to Spain for work.

If you have a more recent update on how Joshua is doing or know of other Bay Area youngsters who made it to a top youth academy in Europe please leave a comment at the end of this post. Thank you!

Also, click here for a clip that Joshua made. Nice juggling skills!

Real Madrid soccer academy grooming Bay Area seventh-grader
By Elliott Almond – ealmond@mercurynews.com – Feb 18, 2015

Seventh-grader Joshua Pynadath used to watch YouTube videos of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo to improve his skills.

Now he attends the same school as Ronaldo’s kids — and the children of Brazilian star Marcelo as well.

Joshua, of Los Altos Hills, has spent the past 11/2 years training at a youth soccer academy known as “La Fabrica,” or the Factory, the grooming ground for Ronaldo’s storied Spanish team Real Madrid.

“Seeing all of the stars in person makes the sport that much more real,” his mother Jackie Pynadath said in an email from Spain.

Joshua’s development abroad highlights soccer’s globalization as the world’s richest clubs like Real Madrid scour the planet looking for eligible kids as young as 6 to become the next Lionel Messi.

It’s too soon to talk about Joshua, all 4-feet-9, 73 pounds of him, as reaching the heights of Messi. The Argentine striker joined Barcelona FC at 13 and blossomed into one of history’s best players.

When Joseph and Jackie Pynadath relocated the family to Spain for her job in the summer of 2013, they didn’t know how their kids would respond.

But they have adjusted to the language, customs and fashion. It has gone so well they have remained for a second year, and after that, who knows. Joshua, a left-sided midfielder with uncommon maturity, also has thrived in Real’s system.

“He has a lot of interesting characteristics for a player his age,” said Jeff Baicher, coaching director of Pynadath’s De Anza Force youth club.

Baicher, a former Major League Soccer and U.S. national team forward, says no one can predict whether Joshua will make the pros, much less graduate to American stardom. But the one-time Force midfielder “has the makings of being a phenomenal player,” Baicher added.

For now, Joshua’s parents aren’t talking about the future.

“It is such a long journey in soccer with so many unknowns that we only look at the present,” Jackie Pynadath wrote.

The parents have gotten a firsthand look at “how incredibly rare and difficult it is” to make it. Joshua’s younger brother, Jason, 11, is playing on a 7 on 7 training team in Madrid.

“The kids know plenty of former good youth players over here that did not reach the levels they thought they would so it’s a healthy dose of reality,” Jackie said.

But the Pynadaths might face a difficult decision with Joshua, who turns 13 on Friday. He could be asked to join the U.S. residency program in Florida within two years after the seasoning in Madrid.

Unlike the U.S. high school and college system, soccer players outside America develop through professional clubs. It would be like baseball creating a Little League system with youth farm teams.

The Real academy started in the 1950s and has been modeled around the world. The Earthquakes and many other Major League Soccer teams have started academies so they can identify — and keep — local players.

La Fabrica has about 200 players participating on a dozen age-group teams. One of its kids is Argentine Leonel Coira, who signed three years ago at age 7.

Joshua Pynadath’s path started at 5 with low-level teams before he joined the Force, a Cupertino club that also developed Marc Pelosi of Liverpool FC and Christian Dean of the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Baicher sent video of Joshua to a contact in Madrid after Jackie Pynadath got the chance to transfer to Spain with her company. Joshua joined the club and now practices at Ciudad Real Madrid’s state-of-the-art facilities where his picture is on the entrance wall as he heads to his locker.

“No matter how good these kids are at this age here, they are all fighting tooth and nail on each possession at every practice since there’s always another high-quality player ready to take their spot,” Jackie Pynadath wrote. The mom added that Joshua has become mentally tougher as a foreigner.

But the Pynadath boys also have improved by living in a soccer-obsessed country. They’re kicking the ball around at recess or playing an abbreviated version of the game called “futsal” in the park.

“No coaches, no parents, no set teams — just unscripted, open play where your ability with a ball is the only currency,” Jackie wrote.

[Please note some of my recent posts here, here, and here on the importance of a strong soccer culture Joshua’s mom writes about.]

The boys, now fluent in Spanish, told their parents they wanted to stay when the first year came to a close in June. Joseph and Jackie weren’t ready to return home, either.

The parents view the experience as a “priceless gift” for their sons, who have learned the strength of a united family.

“As long as we are together, it feels like our home,” Jackie said.

 

Lifelong player and student of the beautiful game in Germany, England, and USA. Volunteer futsal coach and USSF referee.

7 thoughts on “Bay Area youngster at Real Madrid youth academy

  1. Two more relevant articles:
    1) a story of a player taking the opposite direction, moving to the US out of Man United’s academy due to parents’ wish to get an education.
    http://www.socceramerica.com/article/67325/jack-harrisons-long-road-to-no-1-superdraft-pick.html?edition=15017
    2) Bayern discussing their youth approach and working in america.
    http://www.socceramerica.com/article/67318/sebastian-dremmler-on-bayern-munichs-formula-for.html?edition=15017

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  2. Another player worth discussing is Ben Lederman who enrolled at La Masia at 10 (also coached by Brian Kleiban).
    With all the investigation of Barca surrounding Neymar’s transfer, it seems a number of imports such as Lederman were forced to leave.
    With a Euro passport you could move at age 16, otherwise age 18. The big exception is if your parents move for a non-soccer reason.
    This article talks about the situation and the gist is that this is now under much more scrutiny and clubs are shying away from it:
    http://www.soccerwire.com/blog-posts/doors-closing-ben-lederman-leaves-fc-barcelona-as-european-opportunities-fade-for-young-americans/
    The opportunity is for clubs to set up high quality development academies in the US…which is starting to happen.

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  3. Good stuff – and i like that the parents seem well grounded on the realities of “making it”.

    I love those juggling videos, and they are fun to watch, and certainly display a level of “skill”. However, i think juggling skills actually have very little to do with “playing soccer” skills, so why do people always show juggling videos of supposedly “great” kid soccer players? I know they’re fun to watch, and watching the kid move into space and make some great passes is comparatively boring. But i just get the feeling that always showing these “skill” videos just keeps reinforcing the incorrect model that skill on the ball is all there is to soccer. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Totally agree that we need more of a soccer culture. I see a little bit more of that with the new turf, lighted fields at O’Malley these days. Even tho soccer clubs have a monopoly on permits for the field, there are still local kids just showing up and finding an empty corner and kicking the ball around. At 7pm when its dark – which they could never do before O’Malley was built. But we definitely need more space for kids to just go “play”

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    • Thank you for pointing that out! It’s possible that Joshua’s parents relocated to Holland for work again (like they did from the Bay Area to Madrid), hence a move to Ajax. As SAP consultants you tend to move every couple years from one large project to another. Just speculation on my part though.

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