FirstPoint USA to Partner with J-League Champions Rakuten Vissel Kobe

4 min read

FirstPoint USA, the world’s leading college soccer consultancy, is delighted to announce an exciting new collaboration with Rakuten Vissel Kobe, the reigning J-League champions to herald its first ever club partnership in Japan.


The club, who are located in Kobe City, were founded in 1995 and clinched their first ever Japanese League title last season. Spanish superstar Iniesta played for the club between 2018 and 2023, helping establish Vissel Kobe as one of the premier clubs in the country, nurturing some of the best young talent in Japan through their youth academy.


The new partnership will see FirstPoint, who are headquartered in the UK with a network of offices internationally, provide advice, guidance and expertise to players transitioning from the Academy with aspirations to develop at collegiate soccer programs in the States. FirstPoint’s experienced team of former student-athletes will work with players and their families through the scholarship process, helping to secure best fit placements across its network of US colleges and universities.


Established in 2001 by former Motherwell and Hearts youth team player Andrew Kean, who enjoyed a successful career in the US becoming a Hall of Famer with the University of Cincinnati, FirstPoint has now helped change the lives of more than 30,000 young men and women through on the sports scholarship pathway. Securing in excess of $300m in scholarship funding for its student-athletes.


Rakuten Vissel Kobe is the latest club to benefit from FirstPoint’s expertise in opening up alternative opportunities for players seeking career path options beyond academy football, with an impressive partnership portfolio which includes English Premier League clubs Arsenal and Fulham, and MLS clubs Philadelphia Union and FC Cincinnati.


Academy Director Shindo Kunihiko welcomed the new partnership:


“This is a really exciting new collaboration for the club, designed to provide an attractive option for talented young players coming through our Academy who wish to explore a different pathway at a key stage of their career. Playing collegiate soccer gives players the opportunity to continue their development at a high level in the States, while gaining world class education and studying for a degree.


“The club has been impressed with the expertise and experience FirstPoint USA brings, and their knowledge of the US college coach network is second to none. We know those players who are considering this route will be in good hands and we look forward to watching players progress as student-athletes.”


Andrew Kean, CEO and Founder of FirstPoint USA, who played for NCAA DI University of Cincinnati, added:


“We’re really looking forward to working with Kunihoko and his team at Vissel Kobe and helping players who are coming out of the Academy explore a different pathway. We know how competitive professional football is in Japan, and this partnership allows players follow an alternative route away from the club, but still have an incredible opportunity to further their careers.


I know from personal experience what a life-changing opportunity college soccer in the States can offer. We describe it as the best of both worlds, with players benefiting from the amazing facilities they have out in the US with top level football, combined with the academic side and a good degree at the end of your four years.


To kick off the partnership, FirstPoint USA will be delivering a US sports scholarship presentation to the club’s Academy players, outlining the support available and talking players and their families through the scholarship process, while staging football talent ID events for players in the city.


To find out more, visit the Vissel Kobe website.


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