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New soccer high school partners with pro team in Spain

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 6:11 PM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - Just four and a half months after announcing the school’s opening, the International Soccer Academy of America (ISAA) landed a professional team partnership with Villarreal CF, a top team in Spain’s La Liga.

“It was a goal to partner with a pro team. But I never imagined that we would get such a large team to partner with us. I always say shoot for the stars, but this big of a team was really a dream come true,” remarked ISAA Director Ethan Hunt.

Villarreal content manager and coach Lucy Goffe said it seemed logical for the organization to expand its U.S. youth academy program to Mishawaka.

“It’s a very similar model to what we have here [in Spain that] enables players to focus solely on soccer, to improve, but also get an education,” explained Goffe.

Villarreal has several youth academies, or teams, across the United States, from Las Vegas to New York and now in Mishawaka at the former YMCA and Pinnacle building located on Edison Road.

“This was a definitely a region that we wanted to open an academy in so it’s worked out perfectly, really,” Goffe commented.

Over the last five years, Goffe said it’s become a trend among European pro teams to try to reach the next generation of talent.

“Nowadays, you’ll have most of the big clubs in Spain, France, England, Germany, Italy partnering with academies all over the world, just to offer their expertise,” she said.

ISAA will still keep its name as a high school. However, the soccer team will be called Villarreal Indiana. Student-athletes will participate in weekly video chats with coaching staff in Spain and also have the opportunity to scrimmage against U.S. college teams during campus tours.

“That is completely unheard of for a high school team to have universities and colleges accepting scrimmages, and we already have 11 colleges and universities on the schedule for this fall,” Hunt said.

Villarreal Indiana, as a club team, will not compete in IHSAA-sanctioned tournaments and instead will play against other club teams.

The first day of school at ISAA will be August 16th.

Free try-outs for Villarreal Indiana will be June 14th to June 18th, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Boehm Park in South Bend.

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