BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, February 17, 2010
While most American teenage players seek to prepare themselves for their professional career at Bradenton and other institutions of US soccer, Will Packwood is progressing well at Birmingham City's Under-18 team.
As the son of an American mother and British father, Packwood has dual citizenship with the UK and is therefore allowed to play abroad in an Academy despite only being 16 years old.
Packwood feels that the 2009-2010 season has been going very well for him. He missed a portion of the early season to play at with the US U17 team at the World Cup in Nigeria, but has been a regular with Birmingham City's U18 team and, despite his young age, has even played with the reserve team on occasion
"The season has been going pretty well so far this year," Packwood told YA. "I've been playing mostly in the U18 team with a few reserve appearances early on in the season. It's going pretty well, however we were knocked out in the first round of the FA Youth Cup to Manchester United which was a rather unlucky draw really. But overall things are going well."
While helping Birmingham's U18 and reserve team is important, one of the most important goals for Packwood will be for him to improve as a player and develop his game as he seeks to transition himself towards a professional career. As of now, Packwood believes that he is developing on schedule.
"I do feel that I am improving," the Concord, Massachusetts native said of his improvement as a player. "Technically I'm coming along as well as with game understanding. I've been putting in a lot of work to improve my pace and power which will help at higher levels of the game as well. Overall I feel I'm progressing steadily and according to plan really."
Packwood has been with Birmingham City for two years now and has recently extended his agreement with club. He will be with the club through the 2010-2011 season and after that point, he has a goal of earning his first year professional contract.
"I am currently on a two year scholarship agreement that will last until the end of next season," Packwood discussed. "The next step is a first-year pro contract which I am allowed to sign at 17, but am not required to do so until 18. I do not know exactly where I stand in terms of that contract as there still is some time to go yet, however I'm hopeful and will be working hard towards getting one."
The 6-2 Packwood, who plays in the central midfield, also figures also to be a part of the US U20 team as they build towards the 2011 U20 World Cup in Colombia. This past December, he was invited by head coach Thomas Rongen to the first U20 camp of the 2011 cycle. Right before camp was scheduled to start, however, Packwood was forced to withdraw due to a sudden illness.
"Unfortunately I got pretty sick right before that camp so I was unable to go," Packwood said of the disappointment. "But the U20 World Cup is definitely a priority for me. It's a major world tournament at the highest level and I'd love to take part."
Since Packwood plays primarily overseas in Birmingham away from most of the USA players of his age group, he is not as familiar with the US systems as most of the other American players. Despite this, the experiences he has had with the US youth teams have all been very positive experiences and he looks forward to the U20 cycle.
"I don't know too much about the U20 team as I have yet to meet up with them," Packwood discussed. "But the guys I met [on the 2009 US U17 team] when we went down to Nigeria were all great guys with a lot of talent. I don't know too much about Rongen or the U20 set up as a whole, but I'm really looking forward to getting a chance to get involved."
So while Packwood's present focus is on developing at Birmingham City's U18 team and taking part with the US's U20 team, his long term goal is play in the English Premier League.
"My long terms goals really involve getting that professional contract either at Birmingham City or another club and looking to break my way into a Premiership side," Packwood concluded. "It's definitely a long term goal but that really has always been the central goal. Apart from that, my goals definitely include playing internationally at the highest level I possibly can and going as far in the game as is possible."