Former Pitman High soccer standout Carlos Amaya has dreams of playing professionally.
Amaya recently took that next step after he joined the Barcelona Academy, putting him alongside fellow Turlock native Hayden Sargis in Casa Grande, Arizona.
“I'd like to thank my mom and my dad so much for always helping me and sacrificing so much to make sure I could have a good future,” said Amaya.
Despite competing in different age groups, Amaya, who just finished his junior season at Pitman, also took a different road to reach this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Amaya was part of a Pitman Pride squad that finished second in the Central California Conference with a record of 6-4-2 and earned a playoff berth in the Division-I Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs before losing to the Section champs.
Last year Amaya was in a competition called 'Sueño MLS,' reaching the final three.
“The coach for the academy, coach Miha, noticed me through this accomplishment and contacted me last year about eventually trying out for the new academy that would be created,” said Amaya.
In early January, coach Miha invited Amaya to tryouts, which were held in Arizona in March.
These tryouts were all before the academy had become Barcelona and it wasn’t until the beginning of summer that Amaya found out he had been trying out for Barcelona this entire time much to his surprise.
“Around May, the coach had emailed me and said I would be a great addition to the Barcelona U19 academy and offered me a scholarship to play for them,” said Amaya. “I accepted the offer and moved into the facility on June 30, and that was the beginning of everything for me.”
At this Academy, Amaya will continue his education through Arizona State University while perfecting his soccer skills.
He has been living on campus and wishes to be ready to become a professional in a year.
“I believe I have a really good shot at becoming pro after my time there,” said Amaya. “I will be 17 in November. I think I am at a very good age to develop because I am still pretty young and my ultimate goal is to become a player, much like how Carlos Puyol from Barcelona was.”
Puyol was arguably one of the best defenders in the world during his career in Barcelona, which ran from 1999-2014. Puyol was a one-club man and served as the long-time captain for Barcelona. He also won a World Cup in 2010 with the Spanish National squad.
“He was admired and respected by even his opponents and that's who I aspire to be someday,” said Amaya. “What keeps me motivated is the thought that I could one day create a better future for myself and that I would be able to repay my parents for everything they've done for me over the years.”