OK, so my cousin sent me an email the other day, and I'm normally a pretty private person when it comes to family stuff--so I won't be sharing names with anyone--but I had to share this item. In this email, he updated me on a few things that were going on with him, but one thing he mention literally brought the tears. His son, my little cousin (let's call him "Neymar Messi" for an alias) has actually accepted an offer to join the Rapids Academy at the U-11 level.
OK OK. It's not the U-18's or the reserve team, but come on. That's pretty cool, no?
I mean, after all, this is the same Academy that produced Shane O'Neill, Davy Armstrong, and Dillon Serna. While Shane is the only guy who has seen significant time, he's shown that the Rapids Academy can produce pro-quality players.
Here's a fun "small world" fact: My cousin (Neymar Messi's dad) told me that one of the things that helped the family make their decision with Neymar Messi was the interview that we had released last year with Brian Crookham, who you'll recall is the director of the Rapids Academy program. We at Burgundy Wave have been particularly pleased to be able to talk to Mr. Crookham whenever we like, and he's always been a great interview and a good sport and very generous with his time. He also gives five to ten minute answers so it's great from an interviewer's perspective because that means I have to spend less time drumming up questions.
Incidentally, he didn't know that indeed his cousin Ben was actually the "Bulldog Ben" he'd been reading. That was a neat moment!
It will be fun to follow Neymar Messi as he goes on this journey and who knows how far he's going to go with it. He could decide professional football isn't for him and move on sometime. Or he could, in about 7 years or so, be standing on the grounds of DSG Park holding his own jersey after signing his first professional contract.
Neymar Messi's dad is a big supporter of the Rapids. Most of my family in Colorado is. He's also a former player (not for the Rapids, but at the college level) and current youth coach so I'm sure he's very proud right now. Apparently the tryout had somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 kids. Unbelievable. Something special is certainly happening in Colorado youth soccer.
And for me, now, it's hit home.