Westfield High School freshman Ronit Rao headed to Holland on April 10 to compete in the Rotterdam Cup 2017 tournament, as part of the Next Gen USA College Prep soccer program.
This comes on the heels of Rao’s selection in the highly-competitive North American youth soccer league, the Super Y League, in January. Rao,15, will compete against international champions league teams, including Bayern Leverkusen, Sparta Rotterdam and Stabaek FC.
Rao heads to Holland after participating in the prestigious 2017 United Soccer League Experience, a program run by the Super Y League that was hosted by the United Soccer League’s San Antonio FC team from March 30 to April 2.
To make the cut for the United Soccer League Experience, he was first selected from over 10,000 players who competed to be a part of a national pool that represents the top 1 percent of the Super Y League. He was drafted into the league’s national pool comprising 27 boys in his age group in September after by being scouted by several youth team coaches and a dozen college team coaches.
After competing in the Super Y League nationals in December, he was then picked to join a group of 18 players in his age group invited to participate in the United Soccer League Experience. The program provided players high-level professional training and meetings with pro players, along with access to professional coaches and training facilities.
Since 2013, Rao has been playing with Newark, New Jersey-based Ironbound Soccer Club’s 02 Fever team under coaches Sal Rosamilia and Chris Tolkin, who provided him exposure to the Super Y League. The prestigious league has paved the way for many talented young players to be picked by U.S. national team programs.
Rao will play in the Rotterdam Cup as part of the Next Gen USA College Prep soccer program, which is separate from his Ironbound SC club team but complements his training. In March, he attended a private ID camp, which offers players a glimpse into collegiate-level soccer, at Duke University, under the Next Gen USA program headed by Coach Kevin McCarthy.
Rao plays as a defender and midfield player. Currently a freshman at Westfield High School, he realized his passion for soccer as a child when he keenly watched soccer games with his parents on television and at live events.
“My goal is to play college-level division 1 soccer and then go pro and play for the U.S. national team,” says Rao. “I’m excited to play in Holland after the United Soccer League experience, where I got to play at the highest level of competition with some of the best players and learned from some of the best coaches in the country.”
Rao attributes his success in making it to the Super Y League and Rotterdam cup to his coaches, parents and teammates at Ironbound Soccer Club and Next Gen USA. This summer, Rao will continue to play Super Y League games with Ironbound SC, as well as participate in the New Jersey Cup, New Jersey State Cup and NPL league. He was a part of the Ironbound SC Fever team that won the New Jersey State Cup U12 soccer championship in 2013.
As a sophomore this fall, he will play continue his second high school season with Westfield High School.
In addition to soccer, Rao has been a part of the Westfield Flyers Track program since 2011. He placed third in the regional 3K cross-country race at the 2014 U.S.A Track & Field Junior Olympic championship in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
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