Over recent years the world of professional football has seen the age of players signing to play professional, dropping to the early to mid-teen years. The latest addition and currently the youngest player to sign, was the Laguna Bay player, Francis Jacobs. Jacobs was merely 14 years, four months and 29 days old when he signed with Orange County SC. That made him the youngest male since Freddy Adu had that title since 2003 when he signed with D.C United. Earlier this year the soccer world also saw Olivia Moultrie turning pro at the age of only 13.
Great Success for the Youngsters
Although some might consider these early signings of professional contracts to be risky, it seems that these young candidates are all considered to be much more mature for their age than the average teenager. Being able to practice and play with professional players with experience on the international level is brilliant exposure for them to prepare them in their careers. As with Orange County SC, who signed Francis Jacobs, these clubs are keen on developing these players. The club members are willing to guide the young stars into a great future. Aaron Cervantes is an example of such a young actor, who was also signed by Orange County SC when he was only 15 years old. His career is excelling rapidly with the much-needed backing and support from his club. Another star who signed on at a young age is Alphonso Davies who signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps when he was 15 years old and since then climbed the ladder of success to a point where he is now playing for Bayern Munich.
Changes in the Sport
Since Freddy Adu was signed in 2003, the soccer world introduced The Development Academy in 2007. The Academy inspired many smaller academies popping up all over the sport, which are all committed to providing a proper development of these young players on all levels. This notion can be seen in both the United States as well as in Canada, and they are creating a favourable ecosystem in the world of soccer for the young players to thrive.
Another point to take note of is the fact that when clubs are signing on these young players, they are fully aware that they aren’t just taking on the talent or skills, but that they need to develop the entire player. Like with Orange County SC, they are willing to work together and provide the support required to establish Jacobs in his entirety as a player. His first opportunity to debut his professional career is set for the 17th of August against the Las Vegas Lights FC, but it remains uncertain whether he will play the entire game or even at all. The club’s management won’t put him under the stress of performing if they aren’t convinced that he is ready, both physically and mentally.