We recently caught up with FirstPoint USA client, Marcus Illingworth, who has committed to a soccer scholarship at the University of Rio Grande. Marcus hails from Uckfield, East Sussex and is a former pupil of Cumnor House prep school and Charterhouse School in Godalming. Here, we caught up with Marcus to find out some more about him and hear what he is most looking forward to upon starting his soccer scholarship.
Marcus tells us that he has played sports all his life, including golf, tennis, hockey and badminton. However, tells us that his two main sports have always been soccer and cricket. Marcus states that at Cumnor House School he was in the 1st XI soccer team, and won the Golden Boot Award in his final year; and at Charterhouse School he captained the 2nd XI soccer team and 3rd XI cricket team. Marcus added, “I played for a team called Sussex Elite for 4 years; we went to international soccer tournaments, namely the Denmark Football Festival and the Gothia Youth World Cup.” Furthermore, last season Marcus was playing with AFC Uckfield and tells us that it was an incredible experience.
We asked Marcus to tell us about his favourite sporting memory to date and he told us...
“I have two memories that stand out one recent and one past. The recent one is, last season we won promotion with AFC Uckfield town to the Mid Sussex Premier League. This was an incredible experience and one that I will never forget. As well as getting promotion, we got to a cup final this year playing in front of a big crowd; it was a great memory even though we lost the game. The past memory, and probably my favourite memory, was playing in the Gothia Youth World Cup two years in a row. The first year I played, we got to the quarter final of the main cup competition. It’s one of the biggest youth international tournaments in the world and teams come from all over the world to play in it. Playing against a Brazilian side in the Quarter final we lost 3-2 in extra time, but I scored the equaliser in the 88th minute to take it to extra time! It was a memory that lasts with me and always will do.”
Marcus tells us that he wished to study in the states as he didn’t want to ‘follow the crowd’ by going to an English university, but wanted to do something different. Marcus stated, “about four years ago I thought about going out to the states to study, but at that stage I wasn’t aware of scholarships and my family and I decided against it. However, I still always wanted to go and live ‘the American dream’. I am a massive fan of American sports and I know how big it is out there; to be a part of it is something I just can’t wait to do!”[caption id="attachment_11732" align="aligncenter" width="524"] Rio Grande campus[/caption]
With regards to obtaining his soccer scholarship, Marcus tells us that he felt very relaxed throughout the whole process. He stated, “FirstPoint USA were brilliant, and incredibly helpful. From the moment I started working with them, they were very quick when it came to returning emails, and all the information they gave me right from the trials was very helpful. I always felt like I was in safe hands and thought that FPUSA were always working to get the best for me. When the offers started coming in, it was comforting to have FPUSA giving advice and help to make the right decision. Simone, Nicolle and Brendan were great, and I thank them for helping me from the beginning of the process right up to now.”
When receiving multiple offers, it can be difficult to decide which school is right for you to attend. Marcus tells us that when he started receiving offers, he wasn’t concerned with what division the school played in, but wanted a university that was the right fit for him. Of the four offers Marcus received, he stated that three just didn’t feel like the right fit, but Rio Grande did. He added, “having seen that they are two-time National Champions in the NAIA, most recently in 2015, was a massive yes for me. They are a team that are competitive and that’s what I wanted; they also made the National Championships last year too.” Marcus was also impressed that the Assistant Coach at Rio Grande, Joshua Grey, hails from England and has previously gone through the process of a soccer scholarship himself.[caption id="attachment_11733" align="aligncenter" width="546"] Marcus will soon be joining the Rio Grande Men's Soccer Roster.[/caption]
Upon arriving in the US, Marcus tells us that he cannot wait to become a student athlete as he believes it will be a great experience. He is looking forward to everything both on and off the field. Marcus adds, that from what he has seen at Rio Grande, they have a very diverse team, with players coming from all over the world, and he is looking forward to meeting and getting to know them. Marcus adds that he is also looking forward to experiencing the competitive nature that associated with American sports.
Finally, we asked Marcus where he sees himself being in 10 years time. He tells us that he hopes to be playing in the MLS and would love to follow in the footsteps of so many English soccer players, such as Gerrard and Beckham, and be playing at LA Galaxy. However, Marcus states that if he is not playing soccer, he hopes to working within sports journalism, either in the US or UK.
We would like to wish Marcus the best of luck for his studies and playing career at the University of Rio Grande. We will keep you updated on his progress through our various social media platforms.