Petaluma teenager to attend Academy for Club America in Mexico City

A Petaluma teenager is about to step into the world of big-time soccer.

Santiago Rivas is just 16 years old, but he will soon be living on his own not only far from his home, but in a different country as he enters the Academy for Club America in Mexico City. Club America is big-time soccer. It plays in the top tier of Mexican football and has been in existence since 1916. It is owned by the Mexican Media company Grupo Televisa and plays its home games in Estadio Azteca, the largest stadium in Mexico City.

Rivas is a product of Petaluma’s Briceno Soccer Club where he developed his game under the tutelage of Coach Jose Padilla.

“It is a great honor to have an amazing player from our club accomplishing the goal of playing for a professional club at a young age,” said Michael Briceno, president of the Briceno Club. “It is a great opportunity for him to be around professional players and coaching.”

Born in Santa Rosa, Rivas attended La Tercera Elementary school, moved on to Kenilworth Junior High and is now at Casa Grande High School.

When he first started playing at age 7, he had no idea that by the time he reached high school he would be starting a professional career.

“I just loved the game,” he said. “It is fun. When I am on the field it is a whole new world.”

Santiago Rivas, 16, has been playing soccer since he was 6-years-old. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Santiago Rivas, 16, has been playing soccer since he was 6-years-old. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

He is about to find out just how big that world is as he experiences not only the toughest competition of his young life, but also life in a new country. “It will be a whole new experience,” he said. “I’ll be living on my own for the first time.”

He said he is ready for the challenge. “I’m a little nervous,” he acknowledged, “but I’m more excited than scared. I’m excited to get out on the field and see what happens.”

Like so much that happens in the world today, Rivas’ path to the America Academy was impacted by COVID.

Club America scouts saw him play in a showcase tournament in Morgan Hill and invited him to participate in a camp in Mexico City where an international team was being formed. The camp never happened because of COVID, but because the Petaluman already had airline reservations, he was invited to visit for a tryout.

Club America coaches liked what he showed and the path to his new adventure was opened.

Rivas’ is a total Briceno product, staying with the Petaluma club throughout his already 10-year career. “It has been an amazing experience,” he said. “I have had some amazing coaching.”

Michael Briceno said Rivas’ soccer success has been something of a surprise, but was well deserved. “It came out of the blue,” he said. “All of a sudden he started understanding soccer and how to play the game.”

The coach said the teenager is not only a special soccer player, but a special person. “He is very humble, very respectful, “ Briceno said. “He is quick to learn and a good teammate. On the field, he teaches the other players.

“It will be amazing to watch Santiago playing with a professional team and knowing he came from a local soccer club in the city of Petaluma.”

Rivas is the son of Adrian Roman and Glenda Rivas and has two sisters.

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