'Peg teen makes the cut

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:48 AM ET

Kyle Silva and Kyle Andrade went to Portugal last month to pursue their soccer dreams.

Andrade came home, but Silva did not.

Silva, a 13-year-old Winnipegger, was accepted to the Academy Sporting, one of the world's most prestigious soccer schools that is operated by one of Europe's premier clubs.

He was invited to stay after a rugged, two-week tryout.

"For him it was amazing," Silva's mom, Linda Acevedo, said yesterday. "It was very hard. They're very, very good, and they're very aggressive compared to here. They're crazy. They're nuts.

"He said that if he ever did anything here like what they were teaching him there, he would be suspended for life."

Acevedo said her son did a valiant job of putting up with verbal taunts and physical abuse from the other players already enrolled at the school. She said one of the other students punched her son in a hallway.

"I told my son to punch him in the head," said Acevedo. "He said, 'No, that's OK.' "

The reason for the nasty treatment was because if Silva impressed the coaches enough and made the cut, someone else would have go home.

The coaches weren't that kind, either, Acevedo said, but she figures "that was to try them, because they have to see if they break or not."

Silva didn't break, and those who used to be his enemies are now his friends.

"There aren't even words to describe how happy he is," said Acevedo, who speaks with her son every day.

Silva gets to hang out with Sporting Academy's pro players and attend its games. He will remain in Portugal for the next month and return to Winnipeg on April 21.

As per his agreement with mom, Silva will finish Grade 8 at Seven Oaks Middle School and then will be expected back at Academy Sporting in mid-August.

From there, it's all up to him.

Academy Sporting officials said he was rough around the edges, but they said that was expected because he came from Canada. They were also impressed with his 5-foot-6 height, asking Acevedo what she had been feeding him.

"They said he had a lot of value and that he had a lot of potential to become a professional soccer player," Acevedo said.

In the meantime, Acevedo said, her son is looking forward to meeting his favourite player of all time, the legendary Luis Figo, who is a graduate of the Academy Sporting soccer school and a member of Inter Milan.

"He's having the time of his life," Acevedo said.

"He's waiting now to meet Figo, and he'll pass out if he does."


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