Jacob goes stateside for a lesson in football
Teenager to study in Minnesota while playing for college
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