A Tsartlip teen is one step closer to making his professional soccer dreams come true, after being accepted into a training program in Spain.
Joseph Seward, 14, has played soccer since he was three years old and has always been determined to go professional.
“It was always been my dream,” Joseph said. “I used to tell my dad about it.”
The teen has been accepted into a 10-month training program with Real Madrid Football Club in Spain, bringing his dream one step closer to reality.
Joseph caught the club’s attention last summer when he attended a soccer camp, hosted by Real Madrid, at the Pacific Institute for Sport Education in Victoria.
At that camp, Joseph was one of five, out of the 125 attending athletes from all over the world, selected to train at the club’s facilities in Spain.
He went to Spain in November 2022 and was asked to come back two more times for more training.
Joe Seward, Joseph’s dad, said during their last training trip in early July, the club invited Joseph to join their academy team.
“It’s really nice to see him participate and mix in with youth around the world and just test himself against elite players,” Joe said.
Joseph officially joins the academy team in September and will live there for the school year.
He will live in dorms with other team members, go to classes and go through the intensive 10-month training program.
Joseph explained the program is very intense with early morning sessions on the soccer pitch to learn new skills and run drills.
“I’m happy and excited to meet new people that love soccer like me,” Joseph said.
Joseph currently plays with both the Gorge Soccer Association and W̱SÁNEĆ United, a men’s team that competes against other First Nations across the province.
He said he was hesitant at first to leave his family and friends for 10-months, but the opportunity was too good to pass up.
Joe said the family, and whole Tsartlip community, is excited for Joseph because this opportunity is great for him and other Indigenous children as well.
“He’s kind of breaking through with this opportunity he has and possibly opening doors for other youth, not just in soccer but any sport they play. He’s opening those doors for bigger opportunities for others,” Joe said.
Joseph said he hopes this “inspires others to live out their dream.”
The program is costing the family about $60,000, and family friend has started a GoFundMe page to help raise money to support Joseph’s dreams.
As of Friday afternoon, the fundraiser raised $4,360.