LOWER HARMONY – While most of his friends are gearing up for university or college, Charlie Hunter is taking a stab at his dream.
The 18-year-old has been a soccer and track star at Cobequid Educational Centre for the last three years, having helped lead the soccer team to back-to-back regional titles. Now he has his sights set a little bigger.
Well, a lot bigger.
“I’ll be heading to Barcelona, Spain, next season,” he said with a smile. “It’s a bit bigger than Truro, so it should be interesting.”
A bit bigger is an understatement. The second largest city in Spain, Barcelona is home to more than 1.6 million people, and some of the best soccer in the world.
Hunter will be a part of an exchange program called International Futbol Exchange (IFX); a program dedicated to giving players worldwide a chance for international recognition.
The season will get underway with a series of practices in front of scouts from various levels. From there, Hunter could find himself playing amateur, semi-pro, or even professional soccer.
“It’s a huge opportunity,” he said. “It’d be a total dream come true to be playing pro soccer in Europe. I think that’s what everybody who plays dreams of doing someday.”
With various offers on the table to play varsity soccer at the university level, Hunter had a tough decision to make. Unsure of what he wanted to study at university, he considered taking a year off.
Hunter had heard of the opportunity through Rory McParland, a former teammate in Halifax. The pair had played in the premier division of the Nova Scotia Soccer League before McParland took off for Spain and signed with a semi-pro team.
After the pair spoke about Hunter’s situation, it was an easy decision.
“He told me all about Barcelona, and Spain and what the soccer was like. There was no doubt, this is what I wanted to do.”
As part of the trip, Hunter will have to spend between 10 and 20 hours a week learning the language. Having taken French immersion, Hunter is excited to add a third language to his repertoire.
“It’s going to be great to experience a different culture firsthand, and get to live in it for a while. It makes it more than just soccer.”
He’ll keep the university options in his back pocket for down the road, but couldn’t be happier about his less-than-typical “year off.”
“It just seemed like a great excuse for a trip to Spain,” he said, smiling proudly.