BY Guadalupe Barriga
The East Los Angeles men’s soccer team acquired five international students from Brazil, Colombia and Argentina for the 2015 season.
The five players are Federico Mundo, Lucas Mota Silveira, Alvaro Torres, Iago Alves and Jordan Elias.
They received the help of Exchange Company and Campsa to continue their education in the U.S. These companies gave them the opportunity to obtain a student visa for four years, which gives them the right to stay in the U.S. as long as they go to school.
The players’ dream to study in Los Angeles started at home. They played in different local soccer tournaments in their neighborhoods where Exchange Company and Campsa selected them.
Through these companies, they met Coach Eddie Flores and Ricardo Raygoza.
All five players left their families and country behind to pursue their dream of living in Los Angeles.
When they arrived to they moved to an apartment where each one was a stranger to the another. Although they didn’t know each other, they have since become close friends, roommates and teammates over time.
Mundo, 26, is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He decided to take the scholarship Campsa gave him to study in East Los Angeles College to continue his education.
Although soccer is a big part of his life and has given him the opportunity to study in L .A. Mundo hopes to reach his goal of becoming an actor.
“I was happy and excited to move to Los Angeles because I want to play soccer and be an actor,” Mundo said. Mundo is currently taking English as a second language to improve in English, along with theater classes.
As a future goal, Mundo wants to transfer to a theater school and obtain his U.S. residency.
Silveria is 18 years old and was born in Bahia, Brazil. He came to Los Angeles right after he graduated from high school leaving behind his parents and little brother.
Silveira plays as a midfielder in the soccer team. Silveria feels proud to be part of ELAC’s soccer team and lucky to have the opportunity to pursue his dreams.
He felt happy when he was told he was selected by Exchange Company. “I’ve always wanted to live in Los Angeles. It has been my dream,” Silveria said.
Since Portuguese is his first language, he finds it difficult to communicate with others. His teammates, however, have given him great support in his goal to be fluent in English.
Silveria gets his inspiration in soccer from professional Brazilian soccer players Neymar Da Silva and Philippe Coutinho. Silveria’s lifetime goal is to become a professional soccer player, but before becoming professional, he would like to play in Division I soccer.
Torres found his passion for soccer in Colombia. Torres, 18, was born in Cali, Colombia. Although he had the opportunity to play in Las Vegas, Torres decided to continue his dream in Los Angeles.
Torres has traveled to different states such as Ohio and New York to play soccer. However , he prefered to stay in L.A. and play at ELAC.
At a young age, Torres realized his hometown wasn’t going to give him the opportunity to demonstrate his skills.
“In Colombia you are not able to play soccer and study at the same time. You either go to school or become a professional soccer player,” Torres said.
Torres finds himself lucky to be able to play soccer and study. He’s happy to be part of ELAC’s soccer team and will continue to work hard to play in a professional team like Barcelona.
Alves, 21, born in Bahia, Brazil, was also chosen by Exchange Company.
In Brazil, Alves was studying for engineering and business, but left everything behind to come to the U.S.
Alves didn’t want to lose the opportunity to play for ELAC’s soccer team or study in L.A. He has found more freedom in L.A. than in Brazil. “Here, I can go out and express myself,” Alves said.
Unlike his teammates, he prefers to go back to Brazil and work in business.
As for now, he is training and wants to take the team to finals and be the best college soccer team.
Elias, 22, was born in Parana, Argentina. Elias has a great passion for soccer, too, which brought him to the U.S.
He plays defender in the team and has given the team the wins in the past games. Elias received his bachelor’s degree in journalism in Argentina.
He is considering furthering his education and returning to Argentina, but he is unsure because many things can happen within the two years he will be here.
All five players live together, which hasn’t been easy, but they have managed to get along and be responsible.
Coach Raygoza describes the players as great kids. “They have a good vision in what they want to do,” Raygoza said.
He works with them every day at school and is in charge of taking care of them in and outside the field.
Raygoza knows all five will pursue their dreams and will adapt to L.A.’s lifestyle.
Raygoza describes Mundo as the funny kid that brings the smiles to the team. Elias is a strong man who fights for everything and shows it in the field.
Torres is a talented young kid that has adapted faster to the team. Silveria and Alves are the quietest of the group and had a harder time adapting. They have struggled because of the language barrier, but both are working hard to be in the team.
“I thought it was a blessing to have something different this year,” Raygoza said.