American adventure provides the chance of a lifetime for WGC youngster Alex Harris

PUBLISHED: 14:24 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:24 20 May 2020

Welwyn Garden City Football Club's Alex Harris. Picture: WGC FC

Welwyn Garden City Football Club's Alex Harris. Picture: WGC FC


It may have seen him cement his place in the Welwyn Garden City first team but instead this season will see Alex Harris jet off to the United States for an opportunity he “couldn’t refuse”.

The 18-year-old has earned a two-year scholarship at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa, where he can combine playing football with his studies.

It has been a dream for a few years now and he is hugely excited to simply experiencing all the midwest city has to offer.

He said: “I’ve been looking at it for a couple of years, before I broke into the Welwyn first-team.

“I went through an agency and this offer came in which I couldn’t refuse.

“I see it as an opportunity to have a great life experience and see what it’s like out there.

“It’s not just an opportunity to travel but to further my education and play football in a different environment.

“I’ve known a couple of people who have been out there and they have loved it.

“They’ve said that I have to go and see what it is like and if you don’t like it after the two years then you can come back.

“I’ve just got to give the whole lifestyle out there a go and see what soccer is like in America.

“I’m not really too sure what it will be like but it’s something I want to go and find out.”

He won’t be the first from Welwyn Hatfield to make the trip, former Onslow St Audrey’s pupil William Sarchet is already out there, and in fact a number of the RedTails squad hail from the UK.

That should make the transition easier although the mix of football styles in the league also intrigues him.

“It’s good that someone is already out there who I know,” he admitted. “That was one of the big factors to go there. I see it as a standard of football which is relatively the same as here but it will suit me better.

“I’ll play with players who play the same way but I’ll get to play against sides who have a stronger Brazilian element and they play differently.

“I am a defender who likes to play out from the back and this coach encourages that.

“I do aim to come back and play non-league here but to take two years out and have that experience is what I need and I couldn’t really turn it down.”

Mind before he gets to play he has to stay on top of his academic work, with it being a requirement of the league that grades must be kept high.

He said: “I want to play football so I’ll have to keep up with my studies. It’s an incentive to do well.

“My current course will be for two years and if all goes well and I enjoy it, I can extend it to four. I’ll see how it goes.

“I’ve been placed on a football scholarship. There is a fee I have to pay but going on this has knocked down the price of my studies dramatically.

“I haven’t yet decided which one to take yet. I’m looking at going down the physiotherapy route or sport psychology.

“I did have offers from the bigger university for a four-year course but I didn’t want to commit [that long].

“This way I can do two years and transfer to them after. If I’d gone to a bigger university I may not have started in the first couple of years and I just want to be playing football.”

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Welwyn Hatfield Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Welwyn Hatfield Times