Both Hikaru and Kaoru Fujiwara began playing for the Revolution Academy as members of the Under-14 team. In five seasons, Kaoru has become the most-capped member of the Revolution Academy team with over 115 appearances across all levels and competitions since 2015. Hikaru Fujiwara joined the Revolution Academy in 2016, following in the footsteps of his older brother. During their time with the Revolution Academy, both brothers have developed into one of the top players in their respective age group across New England. Hikaru, 16, has already seen time playing at the Under-19 level and is quickly becoming a must-see midfield talent. Meanwhile, Kaoru, a 2020 Academy graduate and Harvard commit, spent preseason training and playing with Revolution II, the club’s inaugural USL League One side. We asked the two about their time with the Revolution Academy and how they think their development has come along since joining the program.
How did you get your start in the Revolution Academy and what has been your favorite memory so far?
HF: My older brother was already in the Revs Academy and I was able to see the level of soccer was the highest level of competition in the area. Also, the traveling and having the environment that is closest and most similar as the pros drew me in. I would have to say my favorite memory from playing for the Revolution was winning the Montreal tournament as an Under-14.
KF: I was interested in joining New England Revolution Academy when I was 13 years old and watched an Academy game against Boston Bolts. The level I saw at that time was very high and I felt that this is the highest level in the U.S. for our age. Then after a few months, I went to the Revs camp and I was invited to RDS. My favorite part of being a member of Revs Academy is the many traveling opportunities around North America. We mostly play on the East Coast but with the Revs Academy I have been able to travel to various places like Vancouver and Kansas City with professional players, all of which were great experiences.
How did the program prepare you to grow and continue in your soccer career?
HF: It is helping me prepare for the next step because I am able to practice every day with the best players around New England. Every practice is intense and we get to compete. Overall, my experience has made me more self-disciplined as a player and as an individual. My goal is to reach my full potential as a soccer player and see how far I can get, and the Revolution Academy has put me in a good position to do so. It does also help you a lot since this academy is set up so that the players can focus on the soccer, and the academy provides you with everything you need as a soccer player to be successful.
KF: I think the Revolution Academy gave me extremely tough but amazing challenges both athletically and academically. For practice, I was coming from my hometown of Lexington, about 45 minutes north of Foxborough, so it was tough to manage my time for homework. After training, I was exhausted from practicing and travelling to the point where I would sometimes fall asleep. And with all the traveling, I learned to manage tests and assignments I had from my classes. But all of these challenges made me prepare for Harvard.
What does it take for a young player to achieve their goals?
HF: To reach your full potential as a soccer player, it takes a lot of sacrifices that are hard to give up. For example, the amount of time you can hang out with your friends is very limited and sometimes players have to make up schoolwork when going on travel trips. The people that support you also have to sacrifice a lot so that you can get to practice or the games.
KF: This is a difficult question, but I think that top young players need to sacrifice the comfort in order to achieve their goals. I truly understand that hanging out with friends or playing with the high school friends are both fun. But in order to achieve your full potential, you have to sacrifice the time to spend in your comfort zone. There are more hungry young players around the world, and stepping outside your comfort zone to play for an elite development academy can help make you a better player and person. Individually, my mindset got really strong after the time I spent in Revs Academy. Every single move matters and every single act will influence myself and the others. For teammates, they were like friends but also competitors that pushed me to perform at my best. It was great to play with and against the top young players in New England.
How did you like having your brother in the program alongside you?
HF: I was very fortunate to have an older brother that has done the exact same thing before me. I was able to watch and learn before doing it myself. I was able to learn a lot from the kinds of struggles that my brother had to go through being at this level of soccer. By watching that, I was able to prepare and understand the competition and the work ethic it takes at this level.
KF: It was a great experience to play with him. I believe he made a big impact for me because I felt like I was about to lose my position, so having him around helped push me to work my hardest to keep my position. He is a great of motivation for me.
Describe your experiences this preseason training with and playing for Revolution II against Hartford Athletic, and how do you feel the program helps its players carve a path from the Academy to college or the pros?
KF: It was significantly valuable for me since I was able to learn how playing as a professional really is. The intensity of the practice and level of the play was extremely high compared to Academy. It motivated me a lot and showed me that I need to work harder in order to get to that level. The program gave me a lot of experiences about how players act on and off the field. It also gave me the competitive mindset where every single moment of a game and every little play matters. I am very proud and appreciate that I was able to play on such a high-level and competitive team for five years.