PATH TO A DREAM WENT THROUGH CALIFORNIA
Joe Corona and Paul Arriola reached goals after playing youth soccer in San DiegoThe young Club Tijuana players tell us about their journey in this question and answer session.
TIJUANA –Joe Corona knew he would play professional soccer at some point in his life. He had no doubt. At least that was the confidence he had growing up in California, playing soccer with a handful of youth clubs.
Paul Arrriola had similar thoughts to Corona but it took him a bit longer to realize what he wanted to do
with his life. Both Club Tijuana players talked about what it was like playing youth soccer with clubs in
Southern California before growing up and becoming professionals.
Q: How old were you when you began to play club soccer in California?
A: “I started to play club soccer when I was 11. I started in Chula Vista and played there for four years.
After that I went on to play in important tournaments and then went on to play varsity soccer in high
school for four years and went on to play in college.”
Q: What was your experience like?
A: “It was nice. The whole process a kid is different in the U.S. than in Mexico. They put a lot into playing
for a club team. There is always a rivalry between clubs. You earn some prestige by beating other key
clubs in those leagues.
Q: What did you learn from playing in those leagues?
A: “It helped me be a disciplined player on and off the field. It thought me to take things seriously and
try to do my best.”
Q: When did you know becoming a professional was a reality?
A: “I always had faith that I would be a professional soccer player. That is all I ever wanted to do since I
was seven. It has always been my dream. I challenged myself and went for it. But I always had it in my
mind that I would play professionally.”
Q: What message can you give the kids who are part of our academies in the United States and be pros
A: “To work hard and never stop dreaming. They should leave it all on the field, be disciplined on and off
the field. If they really want to be professional players, to keep dreaming and never lose their goals and
have faith that you will work to reach your dream.”
Q: Where in California did you play as a kid?
A: “I played in Chula Vista, San Diego and in Los Angeles.”
Q: What was your experience like playing there?
A: “I learned a lot from my coaches. They really helped me. I had the same coach for seven years. It was
important to stay with the same coach. He thought me mostly everything that I know now and I am
thankful for that and for all the opportunities that I got.”
Q: What did you learn in that process?
A: “I learned that if you believe in a dream that you have to stay with your dream. I wanted to be a
professional soccer player my whole life and for me to follow it all the way up to where I am now, is
something I learned to never give up.”
Q: When did you know that become a pro was becoming a reality?
A: “Probably when I was 15 or 16. I lived in Florida with the Under-17U.S. National team. I was practicing
everyday with my team. I was working to go to the World Cup and that’s when I knew this is what I
wanted to do.”
Q: Why is it important to have a Xolos Academy in the United States?
A: “I think it is very important because the club is part of California since it is right next to Baja California.
Tijuana is big and successful. It is a club known in South America after playing in the Copa Libertadores
and now playing in CONCACAF. I think it is very important to have an academy in San Diego since there
is no professional teams there only in Los Angeles with the Galaxy and Chivas USA. It is easier and
convenient to stay in San Diego.”
Q: What message can you give players in the Xolos Academy FC who want to become professional
players like yourself?
A: “Like I said, just believe in the dream. Believe in the coaches, the club and in everything that they are
doing and never give up. You lose a game it’s ok, you worry about winning the next one. You have a bad
practice you worry about the next one. If you practice well continue to practice well and get better. Be
focused have fun when you are little but as you grow older learn that if it is something you want to do is
very serious and pursue the dream.”
Q: What was the most difficult thing to get through to get where you are today?
A: “I think just adapting. Like I said I always wanted to be a professional. I would have never imagined
when I was little that I would play in Mexico. The opportunity was giving to me and I came down
here and worked as hard as I could to get where I am and I will continue to work hard. It has been an
experience that is just indescribable.”