Biggleswade United youngster Alix Girdlestone is chasing ‘the American dream’ after securing a place on a football scholarship in the United States.
The 19-year-old midfielder has flown out to California to begin a placement that will see him combine football with studying at Lake Tohoe College, as he bids to make a career out of the beautiful game.
The teenager featured mostly for United’s Under 23s last season but began to break into Cristian Colas’ first team plans towards the end of the/17 campaign.
His skills caught the eye of an agent with close connections to scholarship programs in the US and after considering his options, the teenager decided to hop across the pond to begin an exciting new chapter in his career and life.
“I was approached by an agent and he spoke to me about what he can offer me and how the whole process works,” Girdlestone explained when asked how his move to the ‘Golden State’ had come about.
“After thinking about his words and discussing the opportunity with family and friends, I agreed to jump on board.
“Having done this, I spent some time playing and gathering footage of myself in action which my agent then offered out to American colleges.
“After a few weeks I began to receive some offers from all over, and Lake Tahoe in California stood out and was the college I committed to.”
Depending on various factors, Alix’s stateside scholarship could last for any time between one and four years.
While his ultimate goal is to make the grade as a fully professional footballer at the highest level possible, he will also be studying Personal Training and Kinesiology at college – giving him other valuable career opportunities for when he graduates.
And with the teenager set to be the youngest player in Lake Tahoe’s intake this year, he is aware of the challenges awaiting him in California.
“I feel that the scholarship will not only grow me up as a person and offer a second to none experience of life in the big wide world, but as a player it will grow me up also.
“In order to compete I must battle and work even harder. This can only improve me as a player physically and mentally as I battle the struggle of being the ‘youngster’ and being 5000 miles away from home.
“The style of football differs from that at home also. Teams out here are much more focused on athleticism rather that technical ability. This will force me to adapt my game, giving me another side to my game in the long run.
“Once my course is over, thanks to the scholarship scheme, should I graduate I will have qualifications in my chosen subjects. This will provide me with career opportunities back home or if I remain in the US.
“However, as you can imagine, a pro contract is my above all goal. Whether I’m spotted out here or my experience gets me spotted when I return home, that is what I would love and will strive to achieve.
“Thanks to the links the American scholarship program offers, my chances of meeting the right people are increased drastically.”
Alix enjoyed a productive 2016/17 season at United, contributing seven goals and 10 assists from midfield and turning out for both the first team and U23s.
His importance to the Second Meadow cause was underlined by the two awards he received at the club’s End of Season Awards Ceremony in May.
And though he is now swapping Bedfordshire for California, the 19-year-old paid tribute to how his time at United has helped shape him into a player ready to take this next step in his development.
“Without my time at Biggleswade United I would not have been as confident coming out here.
“Biggleswade offered me a great opportunity firstly with an introduction to men’s football, but also a lot of time on the pitch surrounded by good coaches and good players.
“The system Biggleswade tried to play was very much suited to me also, which meant I could get a lot of game time and fitness which helped me perform even better and secure this scholarship.”