Men’s soccer welcomes Ecuadorian students

April 21, 2016

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Sports have a way of opening up opportunities.

Soccer is just one of those sports that can provide international student-athletes with the opportunity to achieve their dreams both academically and athletically. Along with establishing future connections, the American education system is generally viewed as a gateway to playing professionally.

The Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) men’s soccer team hopes it can set a good example.

The Patriots are currently joining forces with Soccer College Showcase (SCS) out of Ecuador in helping students from the South American country experience life in the United States for a short three weeks. PHCC coach Enda Crehan established connections with CSC Director of Coaching Carlos Moran in November and later set things in motion on a trip in February to the north South American country.

Moran is a former soccer professional with 20 years of experience playing in the top leagues in Ecuador and Mexico, as well as earning caps for the Ecuadorian U-17, U-20 and U-23 squads.

The goal of the CSC is to promote students from Ecuador with American universities and help link the two so that students have the opportunity to win a scholarships in the United States. Crehan said it helps his team train with different players, allows him to scout potential talent, but more importantly, provide the internationals a snap shot of what it takes to train and study in America.

“They like the life here and the education system is different. Over here they can open up their minds and see that there are more things available than they thought there were,” Moran said. “I believe this will be good for them and believe the education is more important than what they’re thinking. If they want to be here, they have to prepare themselves to study and compete, and it helps them see things from a different perspective.”

Moran said the trip to the States with a group of about 15 students, ranging from 17-19 years of age, is the first of its kind for the company. The main purpose, he said, is to allow his players to experience American life, continue to learn English and give them an honest view of what it takes to be a successful student-athlete living abroad. He added that if some want to pursue their passions in the sport and study in America that’s great, but that the experience of a new culture is invaluable whether they decide to move away or not.

Crehan is constantly establishing new connections across the globe, and believes Ecuador could provide players for his team in the future, having already gathered one, freshman Alessandro Malnati, who scored a goal with four assists in 15 games last season.

Crehan said he did something similar in Ireland when he was in high school. He traveled to Memphis, Tenn. with a small group of teammates and remembered the positive impact it left on him.

“This is their first time bringing something out of Ecuador, and it’s mainly about learning english and having soccer as an added bonus,” Crehan said. “They want to experience American culture and they don’t know where this is going to go for them, or if they’ll come back to the States. Some have American ties, but the fun thing is not knowing what can come out of it, because some may like it and will want to come back and study here.”

The Ecuadorian group has spent the last week and a half training with the Patriots during their spring season. On top of taking english classes three times a week for up to four hours a day, Moran said the life teachings during the trip leaves the biggest impact. Many students in Ecuador have parents that do much of the cleaning, cooking and everyday chores for them, Moran said, so if they decide to move, all of that responsibility changes, and that it’s important for his players to learn how to become accustomed to the switch.

As for the soccer, Moran said the level of play caught some of his guys off guard initially. He was impressed with the quickness and technical ability of PHCC’s players and that it helped give his players a better understanding of how the game is played in America.

Tyrone Rojas is one of the players with the showcase that has visions of earning a soccer scholarship in the States. While he wants to study medicine and possibly become a doctor, he also mentioned that playing professionally somewhere is a goal of his. This trip, he added, allows him to understand what is available and what he needs to do in order to make it all happen.

“The experience of playing with (PHCC) is amazing because all these players are very good. All the guys play at a high level and to train here is important for me,” Rojas said.

Moran said he would like to make a trip like this once a year to see different colleges and universities. In the future, he will start to filter the group down to those who not only want to broaden their education but have a high probability of being offered scholarship money, as well.

Filed under: Men's Soccer