In 2021, Michael Echavarria, a high school soccer player from Boston, Massachusetts, entered his name into a contest for a free soccer season with International Development Academy. After learning about the academy, and its mission to impact passionate and motivated soccer players like himself, Michael figured it was a no brainer to throw his name in the hat. He had aspirations of getting recruited into a D1 college soccer program, or joining the professional ranks, and knew that IDA could support him on that journey.
When Michael received notice that he had won IDA’s contest, he was ecstatic. “The feeling when I found out that I won the contest is truly indescribable,” Michael said. “It is a moment that I will never forget, and one that I will forever be grateful for.” As the season approached, IDA’s staff kept in constant communication with Michael and his family, coordinating travel and prepping them on what to expect. He packed his bags and was ready to take on this experience of a lifetime.
Michael’s first trip outside of the states went seamlessly. An IDA staff member greeted him at the airport and brought him to Mas Camarena Resort & Boarding School in Valencia, Spain, where he and his fellow classmates would spend the season. Upon arrival, he received a tour of campus, including his living arrangement, training facilities, academic buildings, and cafeteria. At that moment, his nerves had faded and he was overcome with excitement for this opportunity. Michael described the feeling, stating, “In the back of my mind, I knew that this was going to be something to significantly impact my life, not just with my aspirations as a footballer, but as a person as well.”
Michael made the most of his free soccer season at IDA Valencia. He took advantage of every opportunity to develop on the pitch, in the weight room, and in the classroom, made lasting friendships, and fully immersed himself in the Spanish culture. And while there were challenges along the way, like being far from home and training in a highly competitive environment, he knew that overcoming them with the support of his coaches, teachers, and classmates, made him better in the long run.
After an incredible season at IDA Valencia, Michael decided to enroll full time at the academy. Why? His list of reasons seemed endless. From the highly supportive and knowledgeable coaching staff, to the rigorous training schedule, Michael loved the feeling of “training like a professional footballer”. He said, “The sessions at IDA are highly intensive, competitive, demanding, and technical, and will help you to identify areas of your game that you need to work on, in addition to helping you learn to be smarter on the field.”
When asked how he would describe IDA to a fellow youth footballer, without hesitation, Michael stated, “IDA will give you the tools you need to take your game and aspirations as a footballer to the next level. If you have the passion, the drive, you are disciplined and focused, the possibilities of making your dreams a reality are endless!”
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