Executive Director Mark Dillon On U19's First League Game, Grit & Drive.

Posted by The Talentprojekt on Sep 19 2020 at 12:27PM PDT

Mark Dillon reflects on the Eagle’s 2-0 loss in their first league game while considering the challenges that preceded the launch of the Talentprojekt’s Gap Year program, and both experiences share the gritty spirit and drive he and his players demonstrated in wanting something badly.

With the dedication of players and their families who closely and patiently waited out the uncertainties of school reopenings as well as a return to play in the U.S, the Talentprojekt launched operations in Ochtrup, Germany under the wire to make this first league game. With only five of their 13 man roster cleared to play by the German Federation, and joined alongside the seven existing German players in the SV Borussia Emsdetten U19 team, the players bravely took on the first place team. Mark adds, ‘there’s going to be a transition period for the boys to gel with one another as well as their German counterparts, but we’ve vetted American players who have adaptable characters, and understand that becoming a professional soccer player requires them to behave professionally as soon as they agree to be part of the Talentprojekt.”

Two weeks since arriving Ochtrup, the quaint town about a 45 minute drive from Munster, the mixed age cohort is attending online courses through their U.S. schools or attending in person classes at the International School Twente, with all players immersed in German language courses. They are settled into their newly finished boarding house with a caring and attentive staff, and enjoying training at SV Borussia Emsdetten’s home club while also receiving top of the line high tech training at Sportwerk. The boys have quickly bonded though hailing from seven different states, and since passing required Covid testing they are enjoying all the local flavor Ochtrup has to offer.

Though the Gap Year program is designed to last three month, it will roll over into the abridged full year program for current 2004 and 2005 players. A second boarding house next door to the existing one will be finished early December and ready to receive the next 18 man roster. Mark is keenly aware that these unusual times present challenges that once didn’t exist; but he feels that this is an opportunity for those qualities of proactivity, creativity and grit that he looks for in his candidates will shine within his organization and carry the current cohort to a successful gap year experience, and pave the way for the incoming January cohorts.

For more information about the Talentprojekt go to Check out our Instagram and Facebook, too. Very few spots are available for our January cohorts that include 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 born players. We are seeking candidates for our 2006 cohort due to commence August 2021.