KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -- Sporting Kansas City's season is over, but the club is always looking toward the future and home growing its talent pool with an academy.
Only a select few can join the academy, and sometimes it means the players will have to leave their families. Meet Edward Mendy and Jake Davis who are two very motivated kids.
"I'm here to be a professional," Davis said. "Family is family, but I have a goal and that's what I'm going to try to do."
"I know that if I work hard enough and give it everything, I can get to the top," Mendy said.
The top is signing a professional contract and possibly playing in Europe. However, becoming a professional is not easy, and the road to get there starts at a young age.
For Mendy and Davis, their path involves the Overland Park home of Julie and Chris Hodges.
"We want them to feel like this is their home," Julie Hodges said.
The Hodges call the young men their sons and their daughter loves having brothers.
"There's just so many benefits to it," Julie Hodges said.
"They're very focused and they know what they're here for," Chris Hodges said.
Mendy left his family two years ago in North Carolina and is the oldest of six kids. He's on the under 17 team. Davis said goodbye to his parents and brother in Michigan. This will be his third school year with the Hodges.
Davis trains with the Swope Park Rangers. Both boys attend Blue Valley West.
"We have a team of scouts that identifies them through national tournaments throughout the United States," Betsy Maxfield said.
Maxfield is the director of player care.
"When I talk to the parents they say, 'Oh we prepared ourselves to let our son go away at 18 years old, but then letting them go between 14 and 15 is a whole new ballgame,'" Maxfield said.
Maxfield helps match the boys with local host families. Four years ago, three boys were placed. Wednesday, that number is 21.
"Over the past three years, it started to feel like a real home, and honestly, I love it here," Davis said.
Some kids move away when they're in the 8th grade.
"It is a huge leap of faith for them, but they do it because they want so badly to let their sons have this opportunity that they've been provided," Julie Hodges said.
The opportunity means a free spot in the academy that has about 140 boys.
"We're currently investing $10,000 per player per year," Maxfield said.
All Major League Soccer teams have academies, however, not all of them have host family programs like the one that Sporting KC runs. For example, in Portland, the boys live in a dorm.
"We decided as a club and organization that we would feel more comfortable with host families," Maxfield said.
Both boys Facetime their families often and go home during the holidays.
Current professional players, Daniel Salloi, Gianluca Busio, Felipe Hernandez and Jaylin Lindsey are all homegrown players, kids who signed professional contracts after rising in the academy.
"It motivates me to get to the top," Mendy said. "I know if they can do it, I can do it too."
Sporting Kansas City is always looking for new host families. You can learn more about the program click here.