Clarence soccer star heading to Costa Rica for international tournament
The 13-year-old striker, also a student at Clarence Middle School, was recently selected to U.S. Youth Soccer’s Olympic Development Inter Regional roster for the under 13 age group. He is one of just two players from the state to be selected to the 18-member squad, and the team will travel next month to Costa Rica to play in an international tournament.
The team tryout itself was a lengthy process that featured some of the brightest soccer talents from across the country. Pollard attended a soccer summer camp in new Jersey that consisted of 300 boys. From there, coaches made a pool list of about 55 players, which included Pollard.
“The competition was tough, which was a good thing for me,” he said.
Pollard was selected to the team representing the eastern division of ODP and over Thanksgiving was invited to Arizona to play in an inter-regional tournament among ODP’s four regional squads, which his team later won.
Pollard’s success on the field drew attention from ODP’s coaches and ultimately earned him a spot on the national team’s roster that will head to Costa Rica next month.
For most players who have yet to enroll in high school, the opportunity would mark the first time playing against international competition. Such is not the case for Pollard.
In July, he was selected as one of 16 boys across the country to participate in the Foyle Cup in Derry, Northern Ireland. He was chosen from his local soccer club, Global Premier Soccer New York, to play in the tournament for the GPS FC Bayern 2004 Boys National Team.
The team went on to win all of its preliminary games, the quarterfinals and the semifinals before falling short in the championship game against Glentoran FC.
Pollard admits that the opportunity to play against players and teams with different soccer cultures and attacking styles opened his eyes to new facets of the game.
“Playing overseas was great because now I feel like I’m never going to underestimate any teams, which allows me to play the way I’m used to,” he said.
As Pollard continues to move up the ladder of U.S. youth soccer, he already understands that the increase in the level of competition is necessary if he is to grow as a player.
“When I train with new guys, I try to be the best one out there, so if there’s people better than me, it pushes me even harder,” he said.
For Pollard, the ultimate goal is to move through the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and one day play professionally. While he remains diplomatic about playing for any specific club, he admits he loves watching the play of Christian Pulisic, an American product who plays for Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga. He is often cited as the future and new face for U.S. soccer.
“Honestly, it doesn’t matter where or for what team, as long as it’s professional,” he said.