Local soccer player to train in Mexico with prestigious All-Star team

Jul 2, 2015 7:46 PM by Ross Field

A 13-year-old soccer prodigy from Hamilton City lives and breathes the sport with dreams of one day playing professionally, and as Action News Now's Ross Field shows us, the young man recently scored an opportunity that puts him on track to achieve his goal.

"It's my life, I was born with a soccer ball at my feet."

Salvador "Junior" Villegas has a serious passion for playing the world's most popular sport.

"My mom played, my dad played and my mom's dad owned a soccer team and my dad played for him, it runs in my family," said Villegas.

Salvador's mother Ebelia Villegas says her son is always kicking a ball around the house.

"When I get up in the morning, he's kicking the ball around and I think he's broken almost every single picture frame on my wall. I can't even yell at him because it's a passion," said Ebelia. "He just wants to play and play and play."

Using amazing soccer skills on the pitch for the Butte United Soccer Club, the youngster from Hamilton City has become one of the best in the state in his age group.

"If you put him in front of a goal, he'll finish with both feet, he can finish his head too. He's not going to hesitate to make the correct pass. He's just a complete player," said Ian Byrd, Salvador's club coach.

Villegas explains what gives him the most satisfaction on the pitch.

"A lot of people like scoring goals, but I just like passing and getting those assists," said Villegas.

Junior's unselfish attitude and overall talent caught the eyes of the state's International Development Program (IDP) which identifies and develops players who have the potential to go pro.

Junior is now on a NorCal All-Star team that will soon be training in Mexico.

"He's basically one of eighteen kids from around NorCal to be selected to go to Guadalajara next month and train and compete with some of the top professional Mexican Academy's like Atlas and Guadalajara Chivas. Very big deal," said Byrd.

Junior explains his excitement over the trip.

"I think it's going to be an awesome trip. My first game is against Chivas and that's my Mom's dad's favorite team and he doesn't want me to beat them, but I'm going to have to do it," said Junior.

Ebelia says she'll miss her son, but she's happy he's getting the opportunity.

"For mom, I don't want him to go, but it's something that I can't take away from him, so I'm really excited that he gets this opportunity," said Ebelia.

Junior, who will be in Mexico from July 19-27, is eager to test himself against new competition.

"When we have games I want to try my hardest every time because I know there's people (scouts) looking out there," said Junior.

Byrd expresses how proud he is of Junior's accomplishment.

"This is something that he can have a little pride about especially coming from a small community," said Byrd.


As you can imagine, the trip will cost a lot of money as they have to pay for flight costs, passport, food, etc.

Therefore, a GoFundMe account has been set up. Any amount helps him and another Butte United Soccer Club player, Jovanni Casillas, who will be attending San Diego Surf Cup at the end of July.

If you'd like to donate, head here:


Congrats to Junior and Jio, making the north state proud!!


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