Strikers FC Player Signs Contract With Bundesliga 2 Pro Club
Luca Fava always had a ball at his feet from the time he could walk. He was three years old when he first playing youth soccer at the local YMCA “mighty tikes” -– now, at 16-years-of-age, Fava has just signed a professional youth contract to play for Germany’s VfL Bochum 1848 U17.
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It takes more than a dream to become a professional footballer. It takes hard work, real passion, and absolute dedication. These are the qualities that define Luca Fava, a young 16-year-old American youth soccer player who is beginning to live his dream.
Anyone who has known Luca Fava his entire life, or even for a short time, recognizes qualities in him that set him apart from the rest.
Southern California born Fava grew up in Orange County and joined his local Strikers Football Club when he was 10-years-old. Coached personally by Don Ebert, Irvine Strikers FC’s Director of Coaching, Fava’s love for the game intensified.
Now, Luca Fava lives in Germany and is paid to play the game he loves.
Earlier this month, Fava signed his first professional contract with VfL Bochum 1848 a top-flight Bundesliga 2 professional club.
With a long and proud history going back over 150 years, VfL Bochum 1848 is the thriving heartbeat of its town. The club’s mission is to produce professional players to sell to larger clubs and its ‘Talent Factory” is highly respected.
Not as well known perhaps as Borussia Dortmund, which Vfl Bochum just beat 3-1 in a friendly match earlier today, this small German soccer club ranks as an excellent stepping-stone and is one of the top 25 principal recruiting clubs for Big-5 league teams. (Big-5 leagues include Germany’s Bundesliga, Spain’s La Liga, France’s Ligue 1, and Italy’s Serie A and England’s Premier League.)
Few people of any age would choose to remain thousands of miles from home during a global pandemic, but Fava did just that in pursuit of his dream.
Fava arrived in Germany in August 2019 with the Talentprojekt‘s U15 team. From becoming fluent in German to spending countless additional hours training, he respects this process and all those he meets along the way.
“Luca is like a fine wine, and he gets better every time you see him,” said Ebert whose youth soccer club has developed eight US Men’s National Team players and countless professional players.
According to Ebert, signing a contract with VfL Bochum 1848 is a real tribute to Fava’s unwavering passion and unmatched work rate. “If you are a young American who wants to make it in a top European country like Germany, you have to work twice as hard to earn that respect. Between Luca’s passion and work rate, I don’t see how he fails. He is in a perfect environment to grow and mature,” said Ebert who coached Fava directly for nearly two years and supervised his development while he was at the club for five years.
Fava was captain of his Irvine Strikers FC when they became the 2018 Man City Cup Champions. Fava’s team also won Cal South State Cup in 2015.
Luca’s talent is undeniable, but his drive and passion for the game are even greater.Christi Malvezzi
“There’s no doubt signing his first pro contract is just the beginning of Luca’s journey and that his character and commitment will lead him to achieve incredible things,” said Christi Malvezzi who was part of the Talentproject management team and with Fava for eight months in Germany.
SoccerToday’s Interview with Luca Fava & his Parents
Diane Scavuzzo: Congratulations on signing your first professional contract! What does this milestone mean to you?
Luca Fava: I am truly over the moon right now — practically speechless.
Ever since I could put the words into a sentence, my goal was to play professional football in Europe.
I want to become the best footballer I could possibly be. I thank God for blessing me with this opportunity to take the next step in my career and dream of becoming a professional footballer in Europe. Football is my greatest passion in life.
I see it as a gift to love and enjoy while you can — not a job — and the only way to love and enjoy football is to give everything you have every day at every training session, every game, every week, every month and every year.
Diane Scavuzzo: What drew you to VfL Bochum specifically, and what is it like to train there?
Luca Fava: I could not be happier with my decision to sign for VfL Bochum! The club has been incredibly professional through the whole transfer process and shown nonstop hospitality to my family.
It has been an amazing first week with the team. My teammates are unbelievably talented and welcoming, along with the amazing coaching staff.
I am absolutely ecstatic to be an American player in Germany and represent my family and friends back home and the States.
I am very happy I choose VfL. I know I will be pushed to the best of my abilities and given the best chance at one day making first-team appearances.
Diane Scavuzzo: You decided to remain in Germany during COVID-19. Why did you choose to stay, and how did that decision impact where you are now?
Luca Fava: Signing with Bochum was quite the uplift in this very tough global pandemic after my decision to remain in Germany through the peak of Coronavirus COVID-19. Using the pandemic to my advantage, I took to the field more than usual with more intense weekly training plans. I did this in order to separate myself from my competition and better my chances of securing a spot on a team for the upcoming season.
This included logging anywhere from 15-20 hours a week on the pitch alone and 10+ hours working on strength and conditioning.
The chance to remain in Europe and play football in the next season pushed me to work even harder than ever, to remain relentless and hungry, and to persevere through the extremely rough time.
I am more than happy to say that all the work has paid off, as I am now preparing for my first season in Youth Bundesliga just three weeks away.
Diane Scavuzzo: What or who has influenced you on the path to becoming a professional player?
Luca Fava: I am forever grateful for my parents and older sister sacrificing to help me reach my dream, and for sending me halfway around the world first at 14-years-old.
My parents instilled in me so many values that make up a massive portion of the person I am today. From work ethic and respect to faith and family, and everything in between.
So, once again a massive kudos to my whole family for their love and support along with all my friends, coaches, teammates, and even opponents. Leaving you all is very hard but I would not be in the position I am today if it weren’t for you guys. I want to say a big thank you to them!
Diane Scavuzzo: The number 24 on your jersey has deep significance to you. Why?
Luca Fava: I am fortunate to be wearing the number of the person who has influenced how I approach life — my childhood idol and role model, Kobe Bryant.
Ever since I started playing sports at three years old, regardless of if I was playing football, baseball, basketball, or American football, 24 was always my number.
I was proud to wear Kobe Bryant‘s number and want to represent what it stands for — devoting all 24 hours to the game. The killer instinct — Mamba Mentality — impacted me during Kobe’s reign with the NBA Lakers. Kobe’s death, along with his daughter’s, and the others in the undeniably tragic accident is a massive reminder that anything and everything can be taken in a flash.
Diane Scavuzzo: What were your first thoughts when you arrived in Germany to watch your son play?
Gianni Fava: Seeing Luca play for the first time for VfL Bochum 1848 was extremely emotional and humbling.
It was almost surreal.
Seeing all his hard work and sacrifice pay off and recognized by a professional German club … there were so many hurdles and Luca met them head-on and never gave up.
As a parent, it is a little bittersweet. Luca playing in Europe also means we can’t see him every day. Balancing that emotional tight rope is hard as a parent.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you think gave Luca his deep passion for the game?
Marienelle Fava: Football is part of our family and has been a part of life for all of us.
We always had soccer on in the house and my son has been a student of the game from a young age — I can’t pinpoint where it exactly comes from, I just know he has been kicking a ball since he could walk.
Luca has always wanted to be a professional footballer.
Diane Scavuzzo: In Luca’s experience, how does youth training in the US compared to training in Germany?
Gianni Fava: I think the main difference in training is the level of intensity and concentration. The more you are on the field, the more you will improve.
Actually, I think physically and fitness-wise, the US is a little ahead of Germany. Luca had a very good base from playing at the Strikers which was refined in Germany at Talentprojekt and this led him to where he is now.