Butte United Soccer Players Try Out for State Team

Jan 10, 2014 6:48 PM

Two young local soccer players are hoping to make Butte County proud on the state level.

It goes to show you that long hours and hard work on the pitch pays off, even though they've still got a ways to go to reach their goal.

For Salvador "Jr" Villegas and Jiovanni "Jio" Casillas, soccer means everything and these young kids aspire to be like some of the game's greatest players.

"Christiano Ronaldo," says Casillas. "I like his free kicks, he's amazing, nice tricks too."

"Lionel Messi," adds Villegas. "He's a great player, really fast and he has all those skills."

As Jr and Jio practice with their Butte United U-12 travelling team,their favorite players aren't the only thing on their minds.

Both midfielders can't help but think about an upcoming road trip.

Next week they'll head to Sacramento to participate in a regional tryout for a spot on the state team.

"We've been working hard, training hard, and training everyday," said Casillas.

"I'm very proud of travelling to Sacramento just to practice and I kind of think we earned it," adds Villegas.

Earning this try-out is quite the honor. It's all part of the Norcal League's Player Development Program (PDP), something that singles out young soccer players with the potential of making the national team.

The PDP develops 3 teams of the top 20-30 players per region.

Jr and Jio play in the the Norcal League which covers 8 regions, from s100 miles south of Fresno all the way up to Oregon.

As of right now, Jr and Jio are two out of 65 players, hand picked from each of the 8 regional PDP teams, to earn a tryout.

"Both of these boys are extremely hard-workers and they truly have a passion for the game that I can't coach," said Butte United soccer coach Ian Byrd. "At 12-years-old, these are the types of things that are going to separate you very early on and I think that they're having not only success because they're extremely talented but because they love the game."

Ironically, this is the same path redding native Megan Rapinoe took to get to the national team and she's become an Olympic gold medalist.

For Jr and Jio, the future is unknown, but for now, they're just happy to earn a tryout with the ultimate goal of making it to the top.

Ross Field asks, "Am I going to see you on a World Cup team in 10 years?

"Yes, yes you are," said Casillas. "Just dream big."

"I'm going to try my hardest to get where I want to be and reach my goals," said Villegas.


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