Ja­cob goes state­side for a les­son in foot­ball

Teenager to study in Min­nesota while play­ing for col­lege

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - SPORT - By Tim Street tim.street@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

WHEN Ja­cob Ball­heimer de­cided he wanted to take his foot­ball ca­reer as far as he could, he did not re­alise it would take him almost 4,000 miles across the At­lantic.

The for­mer Chal­font Com­mu­nity Col­lege pupil was left with some tough de­ci­sions to make this sum­mer after his A-lev­els did not work out as he had hoped – one of which was an of­fer to study phys­i­ol­ogy at the Col­lege of St Scholas­tica, in Min­nesota, while mak­ing a name for him­self on the US col­lege foot­ball cir­cuit.

The Ger­rards Cross teenager had al­ready made a hand­ful of ap­pear­ances for Hare­field United’s first team and was the reg­u­lar goal­keeper for their U18s. He is al­ready mak­ing waves state­side too, keep­ing clean sheets in two of his first three games.

The 19-year-old said: “I’d been look­ing into univer­si­ties in Eng­land to study sports tech­nol­ogy or de­sign paired with foot­ball, but such cour­ses re­quire high stan­dards and are only of­fered at top univer­si­ties.

“How­ever, I know a cou­ple of peo­ple who had gone out to the States, so I thought I’d look into it, and I found they looked at grade av­er­ages made up of GCSE re­sults.

“I also knew of the US sys­tem’s de­vo­tion to sport and that the fa­cil­i­ties were likely to be bet­ter than most UK univer­si­ties, and that it gave me the best way to mix my love for foot­ball with my de­sire to suc­ceed in ed­u­ca­tion.”

After at­tend­ing a trial and pay­ing to get his pro­file on a net­work used by US foot­ball coaches, he had of­fers within days from a col­lege in Ok­la­homa and a univer­sity in Ge­or­gia, but turned both down in favour of St Scholas­tica.

Ball­heimer said: “I would love to get an op­por­tu­nity to make it in the English game. My dad has al­ways asked me how far I wanted to take my foot­ball, and to this day I say as far as I can. It turns out at the mo­ment that is a few thou­sand miles away, but my over­whelm­ing de­sire is to be in­volved at the high­est pos­si­ble level in the UK.

“The US sys­tem gives you a much bet­ter chance of turn­ing pro­fes­sional, but even here the in­flux of young tal­ent from Europe has af­fected ev­ery­one’s chances as the top univer­si­ties have play­ers who had to make a choice be­tween study and pro­fes­sional foot­ball.

“UCLA even have play­ers who come through the Atletico Madrid sys­tem. So far the stan­dard of foot­ball has been bet­ter than any­thing I’ve seen, even at first team level for Hare­field. The stan­dards are higher, the fa­cil­i­ties are top qual­ity and the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the play­ers to suc­ceed as a unit is much higher.”

DE­TER­MI­NA­TION: Ja­cob Ball­heimer will be play­ing foot­ball in Min­nesota

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