Our Humans of NYCFC series returns with the Club’s first Homegrown Player, James Sands.
Here’s the 16-year old on signing his first pro deal with NYCFC…
This is a big dream come true for me. Ever since I was little, playing in my backyard until now, I’ve been looking forward to becoming a pro but especially, when you consider what a great club this is, and how, in just a few short years, how much it has grown, to be the first Homegrown is special for me.
It’s a huge accomplishment for me, but I think it also is a credit to the players and coaches that I’ve worked with. From the NYCFC Academy and their coaches to the youth national team, I think without them pushing me every day, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.
I think being a homegrown and obviously being from New York, I have a strong connection to the club and the fanbase already, just because I’m local, so it’s a little bit extra special for that reason.
They’re all such world class players here, being around them every day, I think I can pick up habits from them. And then when you consider Patrick, and he played the same position I do, and he played at such amazing heights in the game, so I think learning from all of them will be huge for my development.
There’s always stuff you can pick up on. I think just learning some of their habits, why they have had such successful careers, I think I can really pick up on some of that.
Preseason with the first-team was really amazing for me. I think especially in Ecuador against Emelec, it was the first time I’d really been in an atmosphere like that, and I think I really learned a lot from that experience. I think, just learning to relax in a crazy atmosphere like that, and also just playing your game and not being worried about what other people think, was a big step for me.
That being my first time, all the players around me were just telling me, ‘relax, relax, have fun,’ and that just made it a lot easier for me to just go out and perform and just do what I do.
I think now I just have to keep being like a sponge. I have to learn from the people around me and just keep being confident, most importantly.
I’m looking forward to coming in and to contribute to the team. I’m really excited to play in the stadium for the first time. In just a few short years, the club has had such great fans, and I’m just excited to be in front of them.