Youth soccer player from Los Altos Hills earns chance to train in Spain for a year

Courtesy of Jackie Pynadath
Joshua Pynadath and his family plan to move to Spain next month so the 11-year-old can play on the Real Madrid’s Alevin A academy team for at least one year.

Joshua Pynadath’s recent trip to Spain wasn’t in vain. The Los Altos Hills resident performed so well in his second trial with Real Madrid that he was asked to join the famed soccer club’s academy program in the fall.

The 11-year-old and his family will move to Madrid at the end of August “to make Joshua’s dream happen,” his mother Jackie Pynadath said.

Thrilled to have the opportunity to turn that dream into a reality, Joshua intends to make the most of his yearlong commitment to Real Madrid’s Alevin A team.

“I was blown away when I got the official news from Real Madrid,” he said. “They told me that I was the first American that they have ever accepted into their academy. I told them that I would set a good example.”

Joshua added that he’s been a fan of Real Madrid’s pro team since he took up soccer. Cristiano Ronaldo – the club’s superstar striker – is his all-time favorite player and someone he tries to imitate, according to Jackie.

Like Ronaldo, Joshua is known for his footwork. A highlight video of Joshua playing for the De Anza Force Soccer Club – which shows off his acute ability to dribble, pass and score – is what first drew Real Madrid’s interest a year ago. Club officials were so impressed with what they saw in the video, submitted by De Anza Force technical director Jeff Baicher, that they invited Joshua to train with the club during Thanksgiving week.

He played well enough to be invited back to Spain in the spring for an extended trial with Real Madrid and for an initial tryout with FC Barcelona, another world-renowned soccer club.

“I was really excited to get the news that Real Madrid was inviting me back for another trial. That meant there could be a real chance for me to make the actual Real Madrid academy team. The second trials are usually when they make the decision on if a player is good enough to join their team,” Joshua said. “I received another surprise when I found out that Barcelona was interested in taking a look at me as well.”

Joshua started his 17-day journey in Barcelona, where he admitted to being “a little bit nervous, since I don’t speak the language. But once the soccer started, I was fine.”

Joshua’s confidence seemed to grow with each session.

“I enjoyed my time at Barcelona,” he said, “and was happy to hear the coaches tell me that I was a very good player and that I improved every day of the trial.”

By the time he reached Madrid, Joshua felt right at home.

“The Real Madrid academy team and coaches seemed very excited to have me back,” he said. “It was like I had never left.”

He added that the second trial was even more intense than his first tryout with Real Madrid. Seeing action at striker, wing and halfback, Joshua trained with the academy team and scrimmaged with talented players from throughout Europe also vying for a berth on the squad.

“Both trials were very serious, as kids are fighting to either keep a spot or to earn a spot,” said Joshua, who just completed the fifth grade at St. Nicholas School. “It was a very good feeling to be able to play well against this top competition since the level and speed of play over there is amazing.”

Joshua’s stint included playing in a regulation match – and he didn’t disappoint.

“My biggest highlight of the trip was scoring a goal in a Real Madrid uniform in their match against another team,” he said. “That was a dream come true, and the team was so happy for me. I think they were even more excited than I was.”

Joshua hopes to score several more goals for Real Madrid in the next year.

“I can’t wait to get started over there,” he said. “They already have an amazing team that went 25-1 in their league, so I know that playing with them every day is going to make me that much better.”

Joshua and younger brother Jason – who will play on Real Madrid’s satellite team for his age group – will attend the American School of Madrid, according to Jackie. She expects the family to stay in Spain until at least next summer.

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