Two local soccer players are training with one of the world’s premier soccer clubs.
Etowah junior Eli Stout and Sequoyah sophomore Dylan Williams were selected this past spring to be a part of the Generation Adidas International program. According to its website, the invitation-only program allows for players from the top Adidas U.S. youth soccer clubs to be nominated by their club coaches.
Through a partnership with the Real Madrid Foundation Select Program, players selected by Generation Adidas will have to opportunity to travel to Spain and train with coaches from one of the world’s most well-known soccer clubs, Real Madrid.
Stout and Williams play together on the NASA ECNL 03 club team based out of Marietta and were nominated by NASA’s boys director of soccer, Ray Tomlin.
“It’s like an all-star selection from your league,” Tomlin said. “What Generation Adidas looks for is our recommendation and our top players. Players who perform consistently and are team leaders.”
For Stout, a defensive midfielder who has also been busy preparing for the upcoming high school football season as Etowah’s starting kicker, the chance to train with players and coaches from Real Madrid is a dream come true.
“Honestly, it was a surprise I was even nominated,” Stout said. “I found out through an email one day after school, and after I opened it, ran straight downstairs to show my dad. He was pretty excited, too.”
Stout and Williams left last Saturday and flew from Atlanta to New York City to join other players from across the U.S. on the select team’s flight to Spain. In Madrid, the players will train with coaches from the Real Madrid Academy and compete in friendly matches against some of the top club academies in Spain.
For Williams, who plays forward for the Sequoyah and club soccer teams, the chance to compete in Europe is an opportunity he never knew was possible.
“It’s just unreal. I never thought I’d get this opportunity,” he said. “I know Real Madrid has a lot of history, and they are one of the best clubs in the world. I really want to make the most of it because I know they play a lot different over there.”
Tomlin said players from the NASA have taken part in the program before, and the difference he sees in the players once they return speaks for itself.
“The players who went before, they came back very inspired,” Tomlin said. “Dylan and Eli will see the bigger picture of soccer. They probably won’t get it until they get there and they train, and start playing against those top academies.”
The program runs through Aug. 17, and the pair will return to the U.S. on Aug. 18. As a part of the program, the American players will also have the opportunity to tour Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, take a guided tour through Madrid and attend a La Liga soccer match.
The Generation Adidas program is aimed at raising the level of youth soccer through partnerships with clubs like Real Madrid, and the exposure to new tactics and a higher level of soccer is something both Stout and Williams are excited to experience.
“Just getting to play in Europe and getting to see a different style of soccer, that’s what I’m excited about,” Stout said. “It’s an opportunity for exposure, because you never know who’s gonna be watching.”
Once back home, Stout will likely need to refocus for the upcoming high school football season.
Last season as a sophomore, Stout finished 5-for-7 on extra points and 6-for-7 on field goal attempts for Etowah’s varsity team, with a long of 42 yards. It was his first season playing football, and although he enjoyed immediate success on the gridiron, he said the game of soccer will always hold favor.
“I love kicking and football,” Stout said, “but soccer is always gonna be my first love.”