SACRAMENTO -- For many parents, taking their kids to soccer tryouts at some point is inevitable.
But only the best youth players get selected for the Republic FC's youth academy.
They may be young, some only 8 or 9 years old, but not too young to start the road to what hopefully one day ends on a professional pitch with Sacramento's Republic FC.
“It is to develop players for our professional soccer team. That is our number one goal,” Academy Manager Jeremy Field said.
The Republic opened the academy four years ago and is currently developing close to 120 kids between the ages of 10 and 19.
“We structure such a competitive atmosphere. Our coaches are all former pro's, almost every single one of them,” Field stated.
“You just got to work a lot harder, every time, every practice, every drill. That's kind of the main difference, it's a lot more intense,” said Mario Penagos and Academy player.
The hard work though, is starting to pay off for 16-year-old Penagos.
He is one of four in the academy who have signed an 'amateur' contract with the Republic which allows the players to suit up for the main club at home matches and be available to play but still keep their amateur status.
“I like it a lot. It's good experience, just playing with all of the guys and they teach me a lot that I [didn’t] know,” Penagos said.
“Clubs can develop their own home-grown players and then sign them. It's great,” Field explained.
Two years ago, Roberto Hategan, then just 16 and from Roseville was the first academy player the Republic signed to a professional contract.
But not everyone will go pro and the academy is still a big door-opener for players who want to go on to college.
“You know, each game there is 10 to 50 college coaches just checking out these kids. It's great exposure,” Field said.
“It was really easy to get in contact with schools and other coaches, and I just took advantage of my offers and I got a pretty good deal with UC Irvine, said K.B. Boating, another academy player.
Friday night’s tryout was just the first of three for the academy.
So, if you know someone who wants to get involved, check out the Republic FC’s website for more information.