Manjrekar James was set on starting his collegiate college soccer career this fall, with an eye to moving up the ladder towards a professional career.
Well, that ladder suddenly became a whole lot shorter.
James, who just turned 18 last week, and a key member of Sigma FC of the Ontario Soccer League Provincial Division, was supposed to head to Garden City Junior College in Kansas to begin his college soccer career in the fall. But the school abruptly cancelled their men's soccer program in the spring, leaving James searching a new place to play.
Thanks to a sterling performance throughout the season and during the Sigma International ID Camp in July, James earned an invitation to travel to Spain for a tryout with Real Mallorca of the Spanish First Division.
James, a tall, athletic central defender, impressed the international and collegiate coaches in attendance so much according to Sigma Technical Director Bobby Smyrniotis, that there were many offering the opportunity for him to audition at their club.
"We were looking at options for school [for James]. As a player, he is one of the top players at the academy and in general within his age group with regard to his long-term potential," explained Smyrniotis. "He's got the ability to go to the next level, and the camp really helped him out in showcasing his qualities. He impressed everyone. They were all inquiring about him."
Arno Buitenweg, Sigma camp co-Director and member of Real Mallorca's Youth Department, watched James play and train over the course of the camp and felt he was deserving of the chance. The club was in need of a central defender so an opportunity presented itself to invite James to the club.
"Now, he has two weeks to impress. Having just turned 18, the jump to the pro level is quite a feat, even more so at a Primera Division club. Coming from outside, the expectation will be for him to fight for a first team spot within a few years and be much better than any current domestic options at the club. This said, the experience alone will be quite beneficial for his future, and for this we are all quite happy," said Smyrniotis.
James is a member of the Sigma A1 squad that plays in the Ontario Soccer League Provincial East division and currently in second place. 16 of James teammates (including 9 freshman) will be playing college ball beginning this month.