When the letter came to Brayan Torres, the Puyallup High midfielder wasn’t even sure if it was real.
The letter came from Europe, from Marbella FC United and The American College of Marbella in Marbella, Spain.
And in that letter was an offer — well two, actually — as Marbella FC wanted to give Torres a semipro contract while also being offered a scholarship at The American College of Marbella.
“I wasn’t even sure it was real because I haven’t even heard of Marbella (FC) or The American College of Marbella before,” Torres said. “I thought I was going to be going to PLU (Pacific Lutheran University).”
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Was it real? Was a team from across the Atlantic coming to out to the city of Puyallup and offering Torres a one-year semipro contract as well as a scholarship to a college abroad?
“When he first told us about it, we were like ‘What? Marbella who?’ We weren’t sure what he had at first,” Puyallup coach Matt White said. “We looked into it and went to their webpage and read about them. We were able to figure out that this was real.”
And after research by everyone involved, White and his coaching staff was able to figure out that this was no joke.
“We try not to have any of our players go through this on their own,” assistant coach Jamie Mooring said. “When we saw this, everyone began researching if this was real. Sure enough, it was.”
Marbella FC United is a soccer club that boasts being both an American college-level soccer program, as well as one that helps players prepare for European professional soccer.
“That was always my dream: to be able to play soccer in Europe,” Torres admitted.
Now that dream is a reality as Torres will be heading to a region with some of the best soccer in the world, where players can be identified with one name, such as Neymar (FC Barcelona), Messi (Barcelona) and Ronaldo (Real Madrid).
“Soccer is really huge over in Europe, and that’s exciting to think about being in a culture where it is the biggest sport around,” Torres said. “Where the best soccer in the world is being played.”
A one-year semipro contract where Torres has to prove each season that he’s worth the investment by Marbella FC does not seem to faze the Viking senior very much. While not many high school players get to sign a professional or semipro contract right out of school, Torres gets the rare opportunity to experience what life is like in another country.
“Europe and South America are where people are going to say the best soccer (in the world) in being played,” White said. “Brayan is getting is a great opportunity to go and experience that. Even if all he does is travel Europe and play soccer for a year, I mean, who gets to do that?”
Not very many and not all that often.
Raised in a bilingual household with his parents, Raul and Alicia, and brothers Humberto (ninth grade) and Alonzo (fifth grade), the culture shock of Marbella won’t be too daunting for Torres.
But even still, the distance and time away from family is something that one can never be fully prepared for, and Torres knows this. It’s the hardest aspect he’s dealt with after accepting his offer to Marbella FC and The American College in Marbella.
“Being away from them, my family, that will be tough because for all they did to support me in taking me to practice or coming out to games,” Torres said.
Even still, it’s only going to be one year, Torres added, and in that time, there is a whole another world for him to experience.