Two student-athletes from Montverde Academy and the SIMA program had the opportunity to visit Spain and train with the U17 and U19 Villarreal CF La Liga professional team.
Both Macoumba Ba and Mamadou Ibra Mbacke Fall are from Salif Diao's Sport4Charity Organization based out of Dakar, Senegal and are currently students at Montverde Academy. While they are talented athletes on the field, they are also dedicated students in the classroom. Ba has earned Cum Laude Academic Honor Roll recognition every quarter of his junior year and Fall has earned Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude Academic Honor Roll recognition in his third and first quarters respectively.
Although they are both only class of 2020 graduates, they were able to compete with the best in Spain during their training sessions with Villarreal CF. Accompanied by SIMA Director and Head Coach Mike Potempa and Director of Methodology Toni Hernandez, Ba and Fall were able to make the most of this incredible experience.
“It is amazing the soccer talent that MVA and SIMA has in this program, how the players understand the game, and the methodology patterns that you can perceive in all of the SIMA teams and players,” said former professional athlete and part-owner of a soccer assessment company in Spain, Juan Manuel Barbero. “What surprised me the most is the culture. We used to assist very talented athletes from all over the world, and what the Montverde Academy culture impacts is the ‘talent’ of the athlete and that is making the difference in my opinion. I spoke with Sporting Director Pablo Ortells and with one of the owners Fernando Roig about what I saw in Florida and very quickly we agreed to a visit for two weeks with two student-athletes to train with the senior teams of the academy.”
Ba has been a member of SIMA and the MVA community for three years, while his teammate Fall has been here for two. Throughout their time on campus they have accumulated many life skills that have prepared them for this opportunity in Spain.
“[Montverde Academy and SIMA] helped me a lot physically, mentally and technically,” said Fall. “I can also say self-confidence because everything they taught me this past season was always to be humble and to be a leader wherever you go.”
“As a student-athlete at Montverde Academy, it helped me grow as a man and know what my responsibility was,” said Ba. “It was really easy to interact with the team in Spain because at Montverde, we have many different people and cultures, so in that point I was lucky.”
This trip to Villarreal FC in Spain was more than an opportunity, it was a life changing moment in their journey to success as a professional hopeful.
“This experience taught me how tough the next step is and how hard I need to work and to stay humble to achieve my dreams,” said Fall. “This experience has also made me a better teammate because being a better teammate is more than being a good person. By being an awesome teammate, I help create a culture that fosters excellence for everyone on the field. Work hard for your team, believe everyone can do great things and encourage those who are not on the same level as you.”
“Having the opportunity to train with a team such as Villarreal was incredible,” said Ba. “There are so many takeaways. Being fully immersed in a professional club setting had the biggest impact on me. It truly gave me the experience of what it is like to get to the next level. Knowing that if I continue to work hard, both on and off the pitch, I will be able to achieve my goals and eventually go on and sign a professional contract. Villarreal is one of the best teams in Spain and it would mean the world to me to eventually play for a club of such structure.”
These young student-athletes had the opportunity to train with talented professionals and learned soccer on a personal level. This created memorable moments that will be carried for a lifetime.
“My most memorable experience for the trip was when we went to watch the Valencia game. When I was younger, I used to watch some players on TV including Dianiel Parejo. These players made me love the game that much more. When we were inside the stadium, the atmosphere was amazing., something I have never experienced before. Seeing such a supportive fan base was inspiring and I can’t wait to be on the field in front of such a large crowd,” said Ba.
“Coach Potempa and I were surprised by the interactions between our student-athletes and the coaches, players and residence staff. The Sporting Director congratulated us for their behavior of maturity and the respect that they showed everyone,’ said Coach Hernandez.
Macoumba Ba (left) and Mamadou Fall (right)