One of Kauai’s young players is about to take on some of the best in the country.
Jacob Grossmann, 11, of Kekaha will join Southern California club Albion Soccer Club to compete in the Surf Cup in San Diego.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Grossmann said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I just keep working on my free time. I just practice juggling. I work out every morning, and I drink these protein drinks. I’m really just up to the challenge.”
Grossmann, son of Eric and Sarah Grossmann, plays forward for local youth club Keahi Soccer Club as well as Keahi’s sister club Maui United Soccer Club.
“Basically, Jacob is pretty much one of those players that never says die. Never gives up,” said Keahi SC director Allan Duldulao on Wednesday. “Always pushes himself to the utmost. One thing that stands out is he’s tenacious. He’s a really tenacious person on the field.”
It was at a camp on Maui in June that Grossman caught the attention of an Albion coach.
“There was a lot of coaches from different colleges. We had to go around and do drills with the different coaches. They taught me a lot of stuff,” Grossmann said. “A team coach from Albion actually scouted me.”
Grossmann attended the Maui camp, which led to his encounter with Albion, at Duldulao’s suggestion.
“Playing at the highest level, he’ll gain so much experience and knowledge just being at the tournament,” Duldulao said.
The Surf Cup is set to kick off Saturday. Grossmann will play with Albion’s 2006 boys team (12-and-under).
“The Surf Cup is the biggest tournament in the nation as far as being recruited for academy or bigger clubs,” Duldulao said. “Even when you get to the older groups, the 14-and-up, there’s already college coaches watching them. … It’s a premiere (tournament) where college coaches all congregate.”
Grossmann said he’s been in California for the past two months, since playing with Maui United SC in a previous tournament.
The Kauai youth said he’s learned a lot working with Albion.
“In Keahi, they definitely push you a lot. They push you to the fullest. They make you super fast. At the end of the day, your thighs are throbbing,” Grossmann said. “Here (at Albion), it’s actually a lot of tactics and skill-work. When we do fitness, it’s really a lot of fitness.”
What Grossmann loves in soccer, simply, is to score goals. He aims to score at least three in the Surf Cup.
“I just love the feeling. When you score a goal, you feel that one feeling that makes you so happy and you feel so lucky just to be on the team,” he said.
The Kekaha youth said he hopes to one day play for Spanish soccer powerhouse Real Madrid and that his favorite player is Real star and Portuguese international Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I like that he believes in everything,” Grossman said of Ronaldo. “People ask him, ‘Do you think you’re going to win?’ There’s a saying, ‘If you believe enough in what you do, it actually will happen.’ He says, ‘Yes, I’m going to win.’
“They ask him, ‘Do you think (FC Barcelona star and Argentinian international Lionel Messi) is better than you?’ He’s like, ‘No, I think I’m better than Messi.’ People think he’s over-minded and self- absorbed and stuff, but he just believes.”
Duldulao said he couldn’t be more thrilled for the local youth and hopes more from Kauai will follow him.
“The one thing that I like to do, and I’m sure he’ll do the same, is inspiring other players to do the same. The same goal, the same level,” he said. “For me, my son (Shayden) went to this same tournament for five years in a row. That’s where my experience of going to this tournament and seeing the big picture, I want to bring that knowledge back and keep inspiring kids to reach that level. I’ve been telling Jacob about this tournament throughout the years. And sure enough, I’m super excited just for him to go.”