Jorge Valdovinos is relentless on the soccer field.
“He’s cold-blooded,” said the 19-year-old’s former high school soccer coach, Rick Garcia. “He goes one-on-one with the goalie. He wants the ball, he needs it.”
Valdinos is a forward on the San Jose Earthquakes Youth Academy team and a former soccer star. His year with the academy is almost up, and he’s got his sights set on playing the sport professionally—but he might need your help to get him there.
Valdovinos is currently campaigning online to win a one-year contract with a professional European soccer team in the Samsung Football contest. A handful of those who register in the online contest will be selected to compete in trials and one will receive a professional contract with U.K. team Swindon Town, along with sponsorships and other prizes.
Though the website states that the contest is only open to residents of the U.K., Valdovinos inquired and received in email stating the contest is open to anyone in the world. (Emails sent to FootballCV.com, a company holding trials for the contest, were not returned immediately.)
The public can submit votes for who they think they should win. Family and friends have been encouraging others to cast votes in support of Valdovinos online.
“I wouldn’t recommend just anyone,” said Garcia, a soccer coach for eight years who also played professionally in Mexico. “This kid, he’s special. He’s got all the qualities to be a pro.”
Valdovinos has been playing soccer since he was 3 years old. He practices everyday and watches as many games as he can, he said.
“Everything is soccer with me,” he said. “Anyone who knows me knows I take soccer over everything.”
Soccer has kept Valdovinos focused and helps him keep a level head, he said. At Logan, he played on the varsity team for three years.
Though he went hard on the field, he didn’t receive a college scholarship. Undeterred, he continued to play in local leagues and, last year, tried out for the San Jose Earthquakes. He didn’t quite make the cut for the Major League Soccer team, but was asked to return for their newly launched youth academy program, which offers professional training and development for amateur soccer players.
Academy teams travel with MLS teams and compete in matches prior to the televised MLS games, according to Fred Wilson, manager for the Earthquakes Youth Academy. The program aims to get youth athletes into college, or onto professional teams.
“[Valdovinos is] a skilfull player, a hardworking player, a very dedicated player,” Wilson said. “He’s been a good rep of the Earthquakes, someone we’re proud to have wear our jersey in public.”
However, Wilson said Valdovinos may require some extra training before playing on the major league Earthquakes team. “I wish we could keep him a couple more years,” he said.
Valdovinos will compete in an academy showcase in Dallas in front of college recruiters this weekend, he said.
While he’s excited about the online contest—Valdovinos had the most votes earlier in the week, but has since been bumped out of the top seat—he’s keeping his options open.
Valdovinos said if no opportunities arise after the academy ends, he’ll try out for professional teams in Mexico.
“Playing professional soccer in the U.S. is one of the hardest things to do," Valdovinos said, noting that the MLS only contains 18 teams.
“There’s more soccer everywhere else in the world," Valdovinos said.
Whether he wins or loses in the online contest, he isn’t hanging up his cleats anytime soon.
“It’s my dream to play as a pro,” he said.
To vote for Valdovinos, go to the Samsung Football Facebook page. You must “like” the page before submitting a vote. The voting period ends Aug. 30.