Professional Men's Soccer Team Signs 7-Year-Old Kid

Leonel CoiraI'll say this for the managers of Spanish soccer team Real Madrid: they've got some balls. You know, the black and white ones that you kick around with your feet? Although, come to think of it, signing 7-year-old Leonel Coira to play for one of the world's preeminent football clubs takes some chutzpah. And as much as it pains me to say this: next to signing the one and only David Beckham, this may rank up there as one of their smartest moves yet.


It sounds crazy. I even said it was crazy myself when my husband the soccer blogger broached the topic. But take a look at little Leo's (he goes by the nickname of his hero, Lionel Messi, who plays for FC Barcelona) YouTube channel, and the kid has some wicked ball skills. He may not be FIFA ready, but the Argentine-born tot is not your average 7-year-old.

The idea that he may one day BE another Messi, or even a Beckham, isn't that far-fetched. It's a game that requires a spark of talent that's nurtured. Start focusing on skills at 7, and by 19, Coira could be untouchable. That's what he can get from the team by signing now rather than waiting 10 years -- top-notch training, the kind only a professional football club can provide.

Not convinced? OK, I was still on the fence. Then I saw the Coira contract is just for one year. He'll be playing with Real's "Benjamin" Club, a group of kids under 9, for one year. If he doesn't keep up, he gets cut. If his skills develop on par with the club's expectations, they can re-up. Real is, after all, a business. They aren't going to keep dead weight on their payroll.

Put it that way, and a team taking a chance on a 7-year-old is no different than hiring a child actor for one movie. If they bomb, they don't get called back for the sequel. If they fare well, they get booked again. And their parents have the opportunity to pull them out of the whole shebang if they see their kid wilting under the pressure.

Is 7 too young to sign with a soccer club? Or is this the best way to nurture a child's talent?


Image via YouTube

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