This past weekend, 55 talented soccer amateurs took to the pitch in Southern California for the National Showcase of POWERADE Sueno Alianza to show more than 30 of the top scouts from Mexico and the United States their very best.
The players, selected from more than 7,000 applicants, represent the upper echelon of soccer talent in North America. Luis Saldana from Vallejo, Calif., 13, was this year’s youngest (and smallest) player.
For those not familiar with Luis, his stature is hard to miss. Weighing in at a hefty 97 pounds and standing just a hair above 5 feet, he's the underdog of the group. However, as soon as he steps onto the field, these stats are forgotten. As soon as he touches the soccer ball, his size is no longer a testament to his impact. He becomes a force.
Every year, the National Showcase creates higher expectations for each athlete especially with the each player possessing greater drive and more talent, but the dream remains the same – to power through to the next level.
“People that underestimate me because of my size are also the ones that motivate me to try harder and do more,” says Luis. “I want to push harder. This is what powering through means to me.”
Luis’s first showcase is already drawing eyes from the scouts.
In the last night of the event, Luis is one of the last players called to the stage. His 97-pound frame glides with a smile to the stage as he captures eight invitations from the scouts in attendance – the second most invites by a player in this year’s showcase.