‘I never looked back’

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At 16 years of age, Alejandro Rabell trained with Puerto Rico’s National Team. Now he’s in the NCAA.

His Mum wanted him to learn to play tennis but, racket in hand and clay at his feet, Alejandro could not help but look past the tennis court: “Just in front of the tennis club there was a football pitch and whenever I played I’d get distracted watching everything that went on there. I told my Mum I wanted to play football and since then have never looked back.”

Alejandro Rabell was born in Puerto Rico, a country in which football is not the number one sport. “Baseball and basketball are more popular. Although it’s easier to stand out in football, it’s not easy to get noticed outside Puerto Rico,” explains the central-defender, who decided to travel to Spain to find a more professional environment and some more intense training.

“At Marcet I improved my
passing and my decision-making”

“I was playing for Bayamon FC, and from there I went to Texas, where I joined Lonestar SC. In the US I realized how important a quality formation is in order to progress, and it was around this time when my Dad spoke to me of Marcet. I spent 6 months in Barcelona and learned a lot. I improved my passing, my first touch of the ball and my decision-making, especially when it comes to correctly occupying areas on the pitch to open up play.”

To learn, Alejandro even learned to play in a different position to what he was accustomed to. “I consider myself to be an offensive central defender, but at Marcet I also had to play as a right-back. Generally, I don’t like running after the ball, but having possession and making good passes between lines.”

During his time in Barcelona, Alejandro got to face the lower teams of sides such as Sevilla or Mallorca. He also got to participate in high level tournaments such as the MIC. Some “great” experiences that allowed him to make the step forward he was looking for. Something that on his return to Puerto Rico became a summoning for his country’s first National Team.

Alejandro was then 16 years old. Shortly after, he managed to break through again in the US, this time at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), a university he arrived at thanks to his good performance on the pitch. “I’m here because they gave me the opportunity to play for the Highlanders, which competes in the NCAA, the highest level there for my age.”

Soccer in this country continues to grow day by day,” explains Alejandro. Many NCAA players like me aspire to be professionals and reach the Major League Soccer (MLS), that is to say the highest level in the United States. There is a lot of work to do to get there, but I think this experience in the NCAA will be very useful for me in the long run.” For now, the Puerto Rican midfielder keeps getting closer to his dream.

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