Real Madrid have signed british youngster Niall Mason to their academy after he recently impressed in trials. Mason is just seven years old and will
train twice a week for eight months at the academy. He will join the likes of David Beckham, Michael Owen, Jonathan Woodgate and other world
superstars Ronaldo, Zidane and Figo at the Bernabeu stadium.
Niall's father signed the youngster up to a two week summer course at the Real school while working in Madrid. He was the youngest player there by
three years and finished sixth overall. Just like the professionals, Niall had to pass a medical and sign a contract before taking up his place at the
prestigious school. He will begin his training on October 1st and will train at the Escuela Deportivo de Futbol Federation Madrid. If he is
successfull he will he will join Real's full time academy and could turn out to be a future star.
His mother, Mimosa, 35, and proud father, Russell, 44, of Brighton, will move to Spain with their son. He has to join a new school in Spain aswell as
train twice a week. Is too much being expected of a seven year old child and is he being robbed of his carefree years?
In todays sport there is more and more parental pressure. What with the possible reward of a professional contract in the future or in the United
States an atheletic scholarship, are young children being pushed into specializing at an early age?
Children who are expected to train too much or too often can develop overuse injuries such as stress fractures and damage to growth plates. It could
also result in 'burnout' which is seen in alot of young football players. Ultimatly the end result could be seen as a premature end to their
competitive sports careers.
Niall's father Russell told The Sun Newspaper: "It's every father's dream come true, I keep having to pinch myself. What more could a boy of that age
It's a tremendous opportunity with the most famous club in the world. It hasn't sunk in yet."
"He's a natural. At two months old I used to plonk him on the football pitch. He uses both feet and is pretty skilful, he can float a free kick like
Beckham. And his ball control is fantastic."
Mrs Mason also added: "It is all a little overwhelming seeing my baby snapped up by Real Madrid, but you have to grab an opportunity like this."
Parental pressure or a childs dream come true?
[Edited on 16/9/04 by TRD]