December 9th, Waltham, MA, 2019; GPS MA Elite Red 2006 Boys player Michael Vella will be taking the field with some of the best youth players in the world this week when he competes in the International Champions Cup Futures tournament. 

The event, which is held at IMG Academy in Florida, attracts some of the biggest clubs both domestic and international. In total 36 teams representing 9 countries are scheduled to participate in the event with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and PSG amongst the prestigious names.

Michael, who is representing the ICC East team comprised of the best players in the region, will begin group stage play on Wednesday December 11th against Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid before taking on Chivas Guadalajara and Houston Dynamo.

Michael will have a familiar face on the sidelines throughout the event with GPS Director of Coaching Peter Bradley on the staff.

If you are interested in watching Michael play all of the group stage games will be broadcast on ESPN3/ESPN+ and can also be found on the ICC Futures Facebook page found HERE.

The Knockout Rounds and Championship game will be live on ESPNNews and ESPN Streaming Services on December 15th.

We caught up with Michael before he set off for Florida to discuss the opportunity and his time with GPS:

When did you start playing for GPS?

I started playing GPS at U9 and this was my first club. I have now been with GPS for 5 and a half years and have loved every minute of it. 

How did you feel being selected for such a high caliber event? 

I was so excited and honored to be selected for such a high level event. These are the type of events that are a once in a lifetime experience and I cannot wait to represent myself and GPS in Florida. To have the opportunity to play against Real Madrid is amazing. 

What are you most looking forward to about the event?

I am most looking forward to being able to play against professional academies that I have grown up watching on television. It is going to be such a great experience and I know that it will make for an unforgettable memory. It will be exciting to compete against some of the best players internationally.

Have you had any other opportunities like this since being with GPS and how have they helped you? 

I have been fortunate enough to travel to the 2017 Prospects Cup in Orlando,FL where we played Boca Juniors from Argentina. I also travelled to Germany with the GPS national team in 2018 to play against Bayern Munich’s academy team and Supercup Northern Ireland this past summer as a member of the GPS national team where I was one of the team captains. These trips have helped me to get used to being away from family and to solely focus on soccer for the time I am there. In each of these trips, we were playing against very high level opposition which helped me to improve my soccer skills and to become more comfortable on a bigger stage. All of these events have highlighted to me the importance of hard work, drive and focus.

You have been with GPS from the start of your career, what has made you continue with GPS throughout? 

Some of the reasons I have chosen to remain at GPS are that the coaches I have been able to work with, especially Matt Hardiman who has instilled the belief in me of how I want to play the game without ever lowering my expectations. All of the coaches at GPS have been extremely supportive and they have shared their knowledge with me to help me improve day to day. I have also always admired the GPS style of play because you do not have to be the strongest or the fastest. You just need brains and skills and you can make it as far as you desire. GPS has provided me with amazing opportunities to travel and play against different academies. Throughout all of this I have had so much fun and I always look forward to a practice or game. 

And finally, if you had any advice for any young player with similar aspirations to you what would you say?

Be in an environment that is fun, challenges you but also allows you to reach your potential. GPS has been such an important part of my life and I cannot wait for the future. You have to be willing to work harder than every other player, be coachable and challenge yourself all the time on ways to be better.

I am so excited to have this opportunity and to represent GPS. I love the game and these opportunities I am extremely grateful for them. I am hopeful I can now score the winner against Real Madrid.