Jefferson soccer player Kupa Katompa will forgo his senior season with the Dragons for the opportunity to play for a national academy.
Katompa will join Barca Academy in Arizona, one of multiple training academies worldwide run by FC Barcelona.
“The atmosphere at practice is competitive and makes you better every day,” Katompa said. “It's fun to compete with the best because it brings the best out of you.
“The academy is partners with FC Barcelona, which is one of the top teams in the world. It is surreal to me. I pinch myself every now and then to see if this actually happening. It's truly a blessing.”
According to the organization’s website, the academy has produced 46 professional players.
Katompa decided to join the team after a multi-day trial period with Barca to train and “see what the lifestyle was like,” he said.
“I knew when I stepped on the field in Arizona this was the level of competition I wanted to play against every day,” Katompa said.
Katompa said he floated between striker and attacking midfielder during his time with the team, but isn’t sure yet where Barca will play him.
Barca Academy competes in Major League Soccer’s youth league, which will include games against Atlanta United’s youth team.
Katompa, who was part of the Dragons’ historic Final Four team in 2019 as a sophomore, said the decision to leave Jefferson was a tough one.
“It was a hard decision because my family and friends live there,” he said. “Those were probably the biggest things holding me back, but I knew this was the best thing for my career.”
With Barca, Katompa be able to complete his high school academic requirements and earn his diploma while continuing to play soccer.
“As far as my career is involved, I plan to keep playing and reach the next level,” he said.