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Byline: John Smallwood
PHILADELPHIA _ It was a difficult decision _ a struggle for the Convey family.
In 1998, the United States Soccer Federation came up with a plan to make the USA into a world power.
It would follow the model of the great European and South American soccer nations by identifying top young talent and providing an organized and advanced training program to nurture and grow those players.
Bobby Convey, then only 15 and living in Northeast Philadelphia, was one of the chosen.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime, but there was a catch.
The under-17 residency program would be based in Bradenton, Fla. Any player accepting an invitation had to move there.
For Convey, then only a freshman at Penn Charter, that meant leaving everything that made his life comfortable and stable.
"We weren't sure that we wanted him to go," Nancy Convey says, recalling the offer presented to her son. "He was 15 years old, and it was going to be like sending him away to college, only a few years too soon.
"We talked about it as a family. We knew this was something that could possibly lead to a lot of great things. We all knew that if Bobby didn't at least try it, someday he'd be really sorry."
More than seven years later, …