Santiago Hernández Riaño takes advantage of his football training to study in Kansas thanks to an athletic scholarship.

“I never thought I’d get to play and study in the US, but this is the only country where you can combine both. Santiago Hernández Riaño found in Kansas the path he was looking for, and he did it after two seasons in the Marcet High Performance Academy. “After finishing my studies in Barcelona, the sports director spoke to me about the possibility of continuing my education in the United States, and now I am in my third year at the Dodge City Community College“.

Colombia’s midfielder has clear priorities. “My goal has always been and always will be football, but my family wants me to focus on my education as well. The possibility of getting into an American university came as a perfect fit for me,” explains Santiago, aware that this academic option would not have been possible without his excellent performance on the pitch: “Football was fundamental in obtaining the scholarship that now allows me to study and live in the USA. Thanks to this sport I’ve achieved a lot.

The economic grants cover the vast majority of the expenses that Santiago has to face, but not all of them. “Between my studies and soccer I’m busy all day. I also have a job, which allows me to help my parents financially. Thank God everything is going very well for me, both athletically and academically”.

The two seasons that the Colombian midfielder spent at Marcet served to reinforce his football training. “In Barcelona I gained a lot of experience. The work of my coaches shaped me and made me improve a lot, especially tactically. I learned to work hard, to move well on the field and to support my team-mates correctly, not only on the pitch”.

In Spain Santiago also learned what it feels like to touch snow. He was able to do so in Soria, on a move his team made to face Numancia. “It was totally unexpected. It was a sunny day and not too cold. We even took a walk around the city after lunch. However, when we went out to warm up, it started to rain a lot and we noticed that the temperature was dropping further and further.”

“The very moment the referee blew the whistle at the start of the match, it began to snow. I hadn’t seen actual snow before and I couldn’t believe it. We were freezing, but the weather and the game demanded that I keep running. After 10 minutes the field was all white. I never expected to be able to experience snow thanks to football, and I left the game very happy. It was spectacular, something I’ll never forget“.

Santiago will neither forget the Marcet Memorial held in May 2017, just before the Colombian player left Spain to move to the USA. “We were able to beat Barça and Espanyol, becoming champions of the triangular. This is what I remember most fondly“.

The Marcet Memorial was the cherry on top of two years of training that Santiago is now taking advantage of in the best way. An experience that ended up opening the doors of the Dodge City Community College, where he continues to put into practice with Conquistadors everything he has learned in Barcelona on a daily basis. And where snow is no exception, but a regular companion in the harsh winters of Kansas City, where Santiago will face his next battles.

 

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