THE United States is proving to be a popular choice among many Irish youngsters wanting to fulfil their dream of playing professional football.
Life in the USA brings your game to another level. The professionalism and world-class facilities are what attract most players and for Cork youngster Rory Doyle, it’s no different.
The top-class environment has not disappointed as he just finished his first season at Midwestern State University Texas and here he tells us about his experience to date.
“I’m really loving it at the moment, it’s such a professional set-up and I love the idea of being in full-time football,” said Doyle.
The former Corinthians and Cork City star moved to the States in August on a scholarship with the hope of one day signing a professional contract and after a successful first season, he is already looking forward to what next year has in store.
“Next year will be different, no doubt, but I’m looking forward to whatever challenges lay ahead. My experience to date has been great so far.
“We did very well as a team; maybe should have done better, but I settled in really quickly and got on the starting team which makes life easier. There is a great bunch of lads and we have a good laugh and the warm weather definitely helps.
“It did take a while to get used to the weather, but to be fair the college was great for making sure we adapted well. We trained in 32-degree heat, but they constantly monitored our weight to make sure we were coping.
“We won two trophies this year. We won the league title unbeaten, winning 18 games, drawing two. We won the Lonestar championship tournament which is the cup competition played over three days. A tough final which we won on penalties and I was happy to slot home mine.
“We then qualified for the Nationals and we played a team from California. We should have won but unfortunately, we lost 1-0. That disappointing result and brought an end to the season; however overall I was happy with my first season.
“I knew going over that the standard was high so I wasn’t too surprised when I got there. It’s a very professional environment. We have college every morning and training every day at three.
“The facilities are top class with everything at our disposal. Fabulous gym, physios available every day along with brilliant and enjoyable training sessions. I suppose what surprised me most was the professionalism of college soccer.
It certainly is like playing professional football, but then again there is a lot of money pumped into it, so I can see why it would be so professional.
“We have a tough pre-season in January before a tough season in which we will play two games a week for nine weeks. We have lost a lot of fellas now as they have moved on out of college but I know there is excellent recruitment in place here.
“I expect a lot of new players, usually internationals to come in, so that’s pretty exciting getting to play with new players for the season ahead.”
Leaving home for the first time was new for Doyle, but the 21-year-old from Douglas believes the transition was made easier with having six Irish lads part of the squad.
“It’s been great. It was all new to me, but living in an apartment block with a pool makes life easier and having six lads from Ireland on the squad is brilliant. There are a few lads with whom I played on Irish teams, from Waterford and Cork and we all get on great.
“To be honest it’s pretty hectic between college and football so all there’s time for really is just chill at our pool so it’s great that we all get on so well.
“I love the idea of being in full-time football, but college has also been great. I did a year of Arts in UCC and my credits transferred over so at the moment I’m doing a major in Physical Education.
“I might decide to do a masters, but college definitely suits me here and I passed all my exams so the pressure is off and allowed me to enjoy Christmas that bit more.”
Returning home for Christmas was important for Doyle to catch up with family and friends, but it was also an opportunity for him to get rehab on some niggly injuries.
“I picked up a few injuries while over there, but I continued to play to get through the season, but now while I’m home, I’m trying to get the rehab done so I’m in the Mardyke quite a lot trying to sort my ankle and shoulder.
“It was great to spend Christmas dinner with my family and meet up with the lads also.
“However it will be great to return playing also and my plan for the year is to have a good season and then I hope to sign for a team in the summer to play in the summer league.
“I feel instead of coming home, playing in a league would benefit me hugely and will give me an opportunity to see more of the country so I’m really looking forward to 2022.”