Real Advice From Real Parents
For Karen and Floyd Blankendal, it was clear that their son Isaiah was going to do whatever it took to chase his dreams of playing professional soccer. Isaiah grew up on the island of Bermuda, where he worked hard to do well in school and excel on the soccer field.
Although Bermuda offered plenty of great soccer programs, Isaiah felt like something was calling him to venture to Europe to see what else he could accomplish. Currently, he competes with IDA UK in the U23 program, which allows him to focus purely on developing as a soccer player. The Blankendal family wasn’t entirely sure which route Isaiah would go, but they knew soccer would be involved wherever he went. “Isaiah had his eyes set on the big picture,” said Floyd. “This was the dream that he knew what he wanted to chase. One of the things that they constantly say at the IDA is ‘dream bigger’”. The decision was not necessarily an easy one, however they knew that Isaiah was ready to take on the challenge.
The story is very similar for Lukas Velasquez, the 17 year old from New Jersey, who is attending IDA in Valencia. Soccer has been a part of his life since he was 4 years old, and much like Isaiah, he has done everything in his power in order to thrive in the classroom and out on the field.
Lukas’ mother Karin explained why it was so crucial for Lukas to attend the IDA if he wanted to chase his dreams of playing professional soccer. “He’s played for a bunch of academies, competed in South America, and now that he’s finishing high school we gave him the opportunity to go see what [being a professional soccer player] was like. We wanted him to understand that being a professional is much more than just playing every week. He had to experience it on his own.”
So before you sign your child up for IDA, here’s a few things you should know:
The recruiting team at IDA is second to none. Our staff will go the extra mile to make sure that we know your family inside and out and answer all your questions, while we ensure that you’re ready to make this decision. Both Karen and Floyd Blankendal agreed “The recruiting officer did his job. Patrick was excellent, he sealed the deal. He was extremely encouraging without being overly-persistent.”
The communication doesn’t stop there. Once your child has made it to IDA, you can expect clear lines of communication, including updates about what the athletes are up to and information about what you can do to support them. “Our communication with the coaching staff was and continues to be transparent and supportive,” said Karin Velasquez. “The coaches are always available to discuss what is happening overseas, and we know we can trust that our son is in the right hands.” Clear communication with your child and IDA staff allow the transition process to be much easier and less intimidating as you settle into IDA lifestyle.
Once you’ve finalized your commitment to IDA, you can expect to see major amounts of personal growth from your child. The Blankendal family stated how proud they were to see that the coaching staff is helping to turn these young athletes into adults during their time at IDA. “The program is holistically looked at, it’s not just on the soccer field. It’s all of the little things like keeping your room tidy, making your bed and taking care of yourself. Additionally, Isaiah has been interacting more and he’s super communicative. There’s been a major overall difference in his personality.” Personal development is one of the most important aspects of IDA experience. Despite your child being on the other side of the world, you will be able watch them grow before your very eyes.
At the end of the day, both families agreed that there’s really one thing that stands out as the best part of the program, and that’s giving your child the ability to chase their dreams. Once you’re part of IDA, the power is in your hands to make the most out of the opportunity. “Being in Europe has given Lukas the opportunity to bring in eyes from major teams over there. Our hope is that IDA helps get the players a ton of exposure to other teams and coaches,” says Karin Velasquez. Lukas also continues his studies with IDA partner US Performance Academy. The mix of online and live tutoring allow a flexible schedule for Lucas, which fits the high demands of his training schedule.
“There needs to be a certain level of hunger for soccer. The ability to see yourself as a player, excelling in opportunities, that’s where it starts,” said Floyd, regarding the level of commitment required for this journey. “Take this time to really get to know your child,” said Karen “As crazy as it sounds, you really need to understand who your child is and who they want to be if you’re taking on this commitment.” IDA provides athletes with an experience unlike any other and gives them all of the tools they’ll need to achieve their personal goals.
"I love hearing this feedback from our families. It speaks volumes about their commitment to their kids' development, and about the standard of our team as well," says Peter Bradley, IDA Director of Coaching. "Parents are making an investment in their child's future, and we don't take that lightly."
Are you ready for the IDA experience? Contact Patrick Robertson, IDA Recruitment Director