Competitive Soccer Leagues Provide Opportunity for TCK Experiences

Soccer (Image via Pixabay)

Due to more competitive soccer training around the world, U.S. children and adult players’ families can be subject to Third Culture Kid (TCK) experiences.

At a young age, talented U.S. children may travel to Europe to attend high-performance soccer academies if they show potential in becoming a professional player. As U.S. professional players further their careers, they are often faced with the decision of moving their family overseas to play in a European league. These opportunities push U.S. soccer players toward TCK experiences for themselves and their children.

Kid playing soccer (Image via Pixabay)
Kid playing soccer (Image via Pixabay)

Training to become a professional soccer player

As a child demonstrates his or her talent on the soccer field, parents may find themselves curious about how to support their child while they chase their dream of becoming a professional player.

In the U.S., the journey of becoming a professional is much different than in Europe. Ertheo is an organization dedicated to helping parents choose the best sports-education programs for their children. According to Ertheo, at the age of 18 to 21, players in the U.S. must find Division I university coaches who understand how to produce professional players. Eventually, a player may be invited to the Major League Soccer Combine where they demonstrate their skills for an opportunity to be selected to play professionally through the MLS Superdraft.

Two male soccer players jumping up in the air for a header. One is in red jersey and other is in white. Colliding in midair.
(Photo via Pexels.)

On the other hand, Ertheo explains how European players are eligible to sign professional contracts at the age of 16. Part of the reason why Europe allows kids to sign at such a young age is so that clubs can rent and sell players for a decent profit, or train up-and-coming players for their first team.

By educating yourself about the journey of professional soccer players around the world, you’ll get a better idea of what kinds of elite soccer training your child should be participating in at various stages and ages of their life.

Ertheo in their article.

No doubt, the differences in the journey to play professionally provide U.S. parents with a difficult decision in sending their child to high-performance soccer academies in Europe to have a better chance at going pro. This tends to put U.S. children in a position to gain TCK experiences at a young age through soccer.

U.S. players raising their kids in Europe

In an article on Goal.com, Zac Rigg explains how the competitive European soccer leagues lure the best U.S. professional soccer players, ultimately forcing them to raise their children in Europe.

Male soccer players playing on muddy field. One in red jersey and other in white.
(Photo via Piqsels.)

For example, Marcus Hahnemann was born in Seattle, Wash. Rigg writes about Hahnemann’s successful start to his career in MLS until he moved to Europe with his family to play in the European leagues. After eight years of playing in Europe, he began receiving no offers from teams in England, so he moved back to Washington with his two boys, aged 12 and 14.

According to Rigg, prior to relocating to Washington, Hahnemann’s children had never lived in the U.S. They began experiencing differences in culture throughout the U.S. school system. According to Dr. Ruth Hill Useem, the boys began to navigate their parents’ culture and their initial European culture to form a type of third culture (a mixture of the two). Useem identified this process as becoming a TCK.

They think of themselves as Americans with funny accents.

Hahnemann in an interview on Goal.com.

Being a popular global sport, no doubt, soccer will continue to provide U.S. youth and professional players with TCK experiences because of the competitive leagues around the world.

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1 comment

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the viewpoint of this article. MLS is growing year after year in the US, and many don’t see the opportunity it can create. TCK are one example, but as this sport becomes more popular, I believe the competition in the US will one day become as good as Europe. Another positive is the fact the division 1 college programs are recruiting many kids from academy leagues, where many skilled youth can have ability to play in and show their talents.

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