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Olly’s journey from Liverpool to Kansas

When 7 Elite Academy youngster Olly Byrne trundled into college in Liverpool in October 2021, it wasn’t a remarkable day. A bit damp. A bit cloudy. Autumn, really.

But this was a day that would lead all the way to a college football scholarship, starting this month at the highly-regarded Neosho Community College in Kansas.

Quite a journey, eh?

Olly, who lives in Skelmersdale and trains with 7 Elite Academy in Liverpool, explains: “I remember the day quite clearly. Anthony Godfrey, who is the 7 Elite Academy
Technical Director, pulled me and a few of the other lads into the office at college.

“We thought we were in trouble at first! But when he told us what we would be doing over the next six months, it was a real mix of emotions. We were all made up of course, but also nervous about what was coming up.”

That’s understandable, but Olly and his team-mates – Jack Pearce, Dylan Seddon and Lucas Allan – didn’t have the chance to feel nervous for long. A few weeks later, they were on their way to Utah to train with their 04 SABA team-mates.

It was the start of a remarkable six-month adventure that would include intense coaching, tournaments and university visits.

Olly says: “In total I did five trips that included multiple cities and states such as Salt Lake City, Florida, North Carolina, Las Vegas, St George, Richmond and Nevada. The other lads did a similar number.

“We played in a lot of really high-quality tournaments, including the Raleigh Showcase, IMG Academy Tournament, Las Vegas Cup, Jefferson Cup, Utah Regionals and of course the 7 Elite Academy International Tournament.

“The players we met, both on our team and in other teams, we absolutely brilliant. We formed bonds and made memories that will last a lifetime.”

Once back home, it was time for Olly’s passport to take a well-deserved rest. Or was it?

Back in Kansas, the wheels were in motion. Using contacts through 7 Elite Academy Sporting Links and in particular Head of UK Coaching Akan Moogan, the 18-year-old was suddenly on the Nesho radar, as they prepared for the upcoming college soccer season.

Elliot Chadderton, Head Soccer Coach at Neosho Community College explains: “We heard about Ollie through a coaching contact who knew I was on the lookout for a top attacking player to add to my recruiting class.

“Myself and my assistant coach grew up near Liverpool, so we realised straight away that Olly would be a top player. The level he was playing at will translate very well into the American College game.

“We got speaking to Olly in May, just after he returned to the UK. He has many of the leadership qualities we need in our team, along with the talent to take our program to the next level.”

A succession of Skype calls and game videos were exchanged across the Atlantic, as both the college and Olly made their respective decisions. No stone is unturned in the scholarship process – athletic and academic.

Olly now lives with a local family in the town of Chanute, while studying over the next two years. If all the conditions are met, he will have the option of playing and studying

in the United States for a further two years.

Elliiot, who is hoping to build further ties with 7 Elite Academy in the future, is delighted to have Olly on board: “I have very high expectations of Olly, both academically and athletically. He is a player who will continue to develop and grow during his time with us.

“We plan to give him all the necessary guidance to be successfully, both on and off the field.”

Back home in Skelmersdale, Olly’s family was sorry to see him leave this month, but also immensely proud. He’s currently in Kansas preparing for his first season and academic lessons – the hard work starts here.

Olly says: “My family were over the moon when I started getting scholarship offers. They pushed me as much as they could and supported me in chasing my dreams.

“I am so grateful for that they have done. They are my Number One supporters.”

Skelmersdale to Kansas in just a few months. Quite a journey, eh?


James Shaw