They work as scouts but they’re not looking for the team’s soccer gem. They want players who like to study and enjoy soccer. They’re Sports Unlimited, a company that has recruited amateur soccer players for many years so they can have a scholarship in the United States and pursue a university career while playing soccer.
“In American universities, soccer and studies are two inseparable things. Both go together to such an extent that it’s the university professors who advise the players on the number of subjects they should take”, explains Gerardo Piris, Director of Soccer at Sports Unlimited.
‘Sports Unlimited’ helps amateur soccer players get scholarships in the US
Advice they give thinking about the soccer championship: “When the Confederations are developed, the boys have fewer subjects so they can dedicate more time to soccer. And when the championship ends, the players have more subjects. This way it’s compensated and both things can be done without any problems”. Because studying and passing exams is crucial so the scholarship isn’t withdrawn.
Sports scholarships are currently one of the main means used by American universities to attract and capture talent. They not only enable young athletes from all over the world to bear either partially or totally all the costs of studying in the US, but they also manage, year after year, to raise the level of their leagues in the various institutions they compete in. That’s why Spaniards are so incredibly popular over there.
“Since Spain won the World Cup, interest in amateur Spanish soccer players has grown considerably. Between a Spaniard and another from any country, they’ll choose the one from Spain” says Piris.
Changing the chip
Óscar Rubio, a scout for Sports Unlimited, had to change his mindset when signing up players: “As a coach you always look at the characteristics of the player, and now the first thing I ask is if they’re studying”. And the thing is, even if the lad suits you, if he doesn’t study, he can’t get a university scholarship. Óscar was one of the first players to do it outside Spain: “If this type of scholarship had been around in my young days, I’d have been the first to sign up”.