Jackson Grant, ESI 02, is heading to Valencia City, Spain in August 2020 after committing to a 10-month program with Eture Sports. The Eture program allows soccer players the opportunity to gain visibility while playing for European soccer teams through a year of intense soccer development. The experience with Eture will open up a variety of paths for Jackson, but his goal is to focus on becoming a professional soccer player.

“I am hoping to get professional contracts. That is my main goal. To get a contract and stay over there,” Jackson said. 

The process to his commitment included an initial interview and an application as well as sharing of video across the miles. He’s gotten to know the club’s general manager, and has remained in constant text communication with the representatives there. In April 2020, the team announced his official signing.

This won’t be his first international experience. In 2019 Jackson traveled to Sweden, Norway, Denmark to play in tournaments abroad. With ESI Jackson has played throughout France, participating in the immersion in Lorient and training in Guadeloupe 3 different years. He’s grateful for those opportunities and knows those experiences will help him at Eture.

“I think that I know what these coaches are expecting and the level of play of the players,” Jackson said. “I have been overseas with ESI. I have played against these types of players. While others might not have experience with that. I know what it takes and what the standard of play is.”

For Jackson, the lessons learned at ESI are invaluable and his confidence is supported by the lessons instilled by Stéphane. “With Stéphane I have literally played every position besides goalie,” he said “Anywhere I’m put, I can stand out. I have the knowledge and know what to do. I can use my strengths, agility, ball control. I can use my voice. I can be a leader.”

Versatility is something he’s developed over time at ESI. He was confident in his speed before joining ESI but now, through his development in the ESI program over the years, he’s established himself as a complete teammate. “When I came to ESI I was a good player but I only knew to use my speed as my advantage. I would push the ball and chase after it until there was nowhere else to go. Then pass it off to someone else,” Jackson said.

His eyes were opened to becoming a more holistic player through Stéphane’s mentoring, and he realized that soccer was much more than speed. “I realized I can do more than just run.”

ESI has also prepared Jackson mentally for this new challenge abroad. When he first got to ESI, he was the youngest, and he’d sit back and take notes from the older players. When his time came to step up into a leadership role, he was ready. “I can see what you are supposed to do as a good leader. ESI showed me both sides of it and knowing what to do and not to do.”

Jackson also acknowledges how much he has grown under the guidance of Stéphane.  

“Without Stéphane, I wouldn’t have what I have today,” Jackson says. “I wouldn’t be the person or player I am today. He teaches you important lessons on how to act off the field as well as how to play on.”