SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento Republic FC signed 15-year-old midfielder Rafael Jauregui to a professional contract Monday.
The Sacramento native has been with the Republic as part of its youth development academy since 2017 and played with the team on a USL Academy contract last season.
At just four years old, Jauregui learned the importance of "no train, no gain" on the fields of Stone Creek Park.
"It's just mindblowing," his mother Maria Jauregui said. "We're still like, did this just happen? That's how we feel right now."
When Rafa was tapped to go pro and sign with Republic FC, it only seemed fitting to make his commitment at the place where his soccer dreams started.
"When I actually got the news it was crazy and then when I went and told my parents and we were all super excited. We were all jumping for joy," Rafa Jauregui said.
It's an incredible opportunity that the teen says would not exist without his family.
"Honestly without them, I don't even think I would be here. A lot of this is due to them," he said. "Not many people and at my age can represent their hometown so it means a lot to me to be able to do this."
The midfielder trains about six hours a day while still balancing his studies at Elk Grove Charter School. His father believes his discipline and humble nature will keep him grounded in his success.
"We keep telling him the humble people usually are the ones who get to the top and stays at the top," Rafael Jauregui Sr. said.
Rafa would not talk specifics about his new contract but says there's no question he's going to be helping his parents given all the sacrifices they've made to make his dream a reality.
In a press release Monday, team leadership spoke highly of Jauregui.
"It doesn't really exist in any other sport or any other team sport is that you can grow up in Sacramento with your favorite team, work your tail off as a young member in the academy, and then do exactly what Rafa did – become a professional," said Republic FC President Ben Gumpert in the release.
The teen joined the SRFC Youth Academy from Sacramento's San Juan Soccer Club. He has also represented the country at three international competitions, including on the U-15 Boys' team for the Concacaf Championship where he started three games and scored two goals.
"Rafa is a special player and a special kid that doesn't come along often. In 2020, as a 15-year old in first team training, he was routinely the best player in small-sided games," said Republic FC General Manager Todd Dunivant in the release. "Rafa's poise, character and passion for the game reflect his family values and the countless hours spent in his neighborhood park. We're proud to elevate another Sacramento native from our academy to the first team."
for more features.