IFX Fall exchange program participants in Spain continue to have people talking. We are pleased to announce that the former soccer player of the Colorado Rapids 99 Select team, Jackson West Smink (18) a native from Denver, Colorado has been signed by Catalonian club Levante Las Planas to play in the first team during his stay in Barcelona as part of the Pro IFX Spain program. Jackson came to Spain alongside IFX Soccer develop as a soccer player bearing in mind that he will be attending Georgetown University in the fall of 2019 and he will definitely be playing soccer there. He is also very focused on learning the Spanish language and culture.
We wanted to know more about Jackson´s journey in Spain as part of his Study exchange program in Barcelona and this was what he said:
Hello Jackson, How do you feel in Spain?
I am starting to feel more comfortable in Spain every day. There are many people in the city who are very nice and welcoming, as I mentioned those at the club I am playing for. However, I have seen some things around the city like graffiti that suggests there are some people in the city who are not happy about the amount of foreigners in Barcelona, but I am sure that is part of any world famous city. So far I would describe the experience as good and very different from what I am used to.
Please, tell us how you got to play for Levante Las Planas?
Scouting was done by first having a training session with Marcel’s(the IFX group coach) team so that he could see our level and then look for teams that we could have trials with from there. I only actually ended up getting a trial at 2 different clubs one of them, Levante Las Planas, offered me a spot on his roster. I like the coach and the players. They are nice and welcoming. The facilities are nice.
- I chose Spain, and more specifically Barcelona because I have been a Barcelona fan my whole life.
- I want to get better, and I want to play at a high level.
How do you see yourself fit in the game of your new Spanish club?
I like that many of the players are not necessarily good because they are big, strong, and fast, but extremely technical. I think that I will fit in well. I am good technically, but I also think I am more athletic than the average Spanish player.
Why did you decide to Join to the IFX Program in Spain?
I decided to join the program because I knew that I wanted to take a gap year and do something similar to what I am doing now. I chose Spain, and more specifically Barcelona because I have been a Barcelona fan my whole life. I chose IFX because I had a friend who did it and was happy with his experience.
What can you tell us about Barcelona?
Barcelona has a very good metro system that can take you almost anywhere you need to go in the city along with multiple other public transportation options. The city does not have a lot of skyscrapers. It has a lot of beaches. The weather is very mild year round. Pretty cool place to be.
What do you expect from this season and your soccer future from this experience?
I don’t really have specific expectations for my current season or for my soccer future in general but I do know this. I want to get better, and I want to play at a high level. Obviously, at one point my goal was to go pro and although I do believe I could easily go semi-pro and potentially make it pro if I set me heart on it that is not my goal at this point in my career. I would say if I had to make a specific goal it would be to make the D1 team at Georgetown.
What about your Host family?
My host family is very nice. There is a mom, dad, and their 26 year old son along with a dog and a cat. The mom cooks lots of food and says that I can eat whatever I want which I am very grateful for. The son works at Dominos and sleeps most of the day and then goes to work at night. Overall, I am very content with my living situation and I like my host family.
Something else you would like to add about the program?
Yes, I do think that IFX is doing a good job and I would recommend this program to a friend. As I have said, one of the main reasons I am doing this program is not only for the soccer aspect, but also for the once in a lifetime opportunity aspect to live in another country, fully learn the language, and do it all while playing a sport that you love as your main focus. I think that it is much different from a study abroad opportunity because I am living with a family and there are just many things that I will have the opportunity to do this year that I never would have had if I did not take this gap year.
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