Brazilians refine athletic skills at ELAC

By Stephanie Guevara

Paulo Macedo Nahashique

SHOOT—Brazilian-Japanese men’s soccer midfielder Paulo Macedo Nahashique shoots toward goal against Pasadena on Sept. 28. CN/Diego Linares

Traveling to different countries to showcase his talent in soccer has been Paulo Macedo Nahashique’s intention since he was a teenager.

Men’s soccer Brazilian-Japanese player Nahashique, 21,  traveled to Europe for the first time when he was 12 to play soccer.

Nahashique was selected by the team he played in Sao Paulo Brazil, his native city, to play a tournament where professional soccer teams oversaw them.

He traveled four times to Europe throughout his teen years.

He played in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden.

Nahasique said he had the opportunity to share the experience with his childhood friend, and former men’s soccer midfielder, Gustavo Silva.

Silva encouraged Nahasique to move to Los Angeles and eventually come to East Los Angeles College.

“Gustavo helped me come to the U.S. He told me that I could learn English and a new culture. He told me ELAC was a good school,” said Nahashique.

He said his experience in Europe also encouraged him to come to the U.S. Nahashique adapted quickly to the style of play at ELAC and was a key player in many of ELAC’s games.

Nahashique said he had in mind what he wanted to play, but he was also willing to play wherever the coach wanted to place him.

“I told the coach he can put me as a midfielder, forward or winger. I just wanted to help my team out,” said Nahashique.

Men’s soccer head coach Eddie Flores said Nahashique struggled in the beginning, but adapted quickly because he let himself be guided.

“We were blessed to have him. He’s a hard worker and he’s a very talented young man…He was very coachable. He never gave me problems,” said Flores.

Flores also said Nahashique was an ambitious player.

“He once told me, ‘Hey coach, I’m going to score 12 goals for the team.’ I just want him to score, but he had the potential,” said Flores.

Nahashique finished the season among the top 10 players with the most assists and was included in the first conference all-star team.

Flores described Nahashique as a quiet and humble person who lets his talent speak for itself.

Nahashique said he wants to become a professional soccer player.

He said it’s hard in Brazil to become a professional, but in the U.S., there are many opportunities to pursue his goal.

However, he’s also interested in pursuing a career in business or physical education.

Tulio Pinheiro

STOPPER—Husky Brazilian defensive midfielder Tulio Pinheiro regains possession of the ball during the last game of the season against Mount San Antonio College on Nov.9. CN/Noe Ortega

Tulio Pinheiro decided to use soccer as a tool to pursue his career after learning the American soccer style for a year at Kentucky.

Men’s soccer team member Pinheiro, 21, was born in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais in Brazil.

He was given the opportunity to study and play soccer at Campbellsville University in Kentucky in 2017, just two years after graduating from high school.

Pinheiro was accepted to a university in Brazil, but opted to play in the states

.Pinheiro said his parents didn’t hesitate to help him achieve his goal of coming to the U.S.

Pinheiro came through BRUSA Sports, a company that helps foreign exchange student athletes in Brazil. Machado had to adapt to a style that was alien to him.

“In Brazil, soccer is different. We move the ball faster so we run less. We occupy spaces more and we always want the ball at our feet,” said Pinheiro.

Pinheiro decided to change gears and moved to Los Angeles after his childhood friend and former men’s soccer forward Pedro Moraes told him about East Los Angeles College.

Pinheiro said he came to Los Angeles because of its diversity and great weather.

At ELAC, Pinheiro had to overcome some struggles, which head coach Eddie Flores said helped him mature as a player and person.

“We (coaches) had to have a one-on-one with him. At one point, I recall telling him this may not be the fit for you… after that, he was a different player. He came back and Tulio was a better player. He’s brilliant in soccer,” said Flores.

Pinheiro said it took him a while to adjust to the American style of soccer because he had stopped playing traditional soccer and only played indoor soccer.

He said he had gotten used to playing on smaller fields. He had to work on conditioning when he came to the U.S.

“I just played indoor soccer when I was 15 until I came to the U.S. It took me a bit to adjust, but I had played soccer on the field for 10 years,” said Pinheiro.

Pinheiro said he learned to loved soccer through his grandfather, Daniel Machado.

He learned to play at the age of five as Machado took him to all of his practices.

Pinheiro said Machado was an important person in his life who helped him overcome struggles and gave him a motto which he lives by.

“He would tell me the same thing his father told him. It didn’t matter what I was going through, I just had to move forward. That was the last thing he told he before he passed away,’” said Pinheiro.

Pinheiro said he was raised to love soccer and he uses it as a way to relieve stress.

Pinheiro said he doesn’t see soccer as a career path anymore, unlike when we has a boy.

“My time has passed. I don’t want to be professional anymore like I used to when I was a boy…I like to play because it’s a way to relieve my stress. When I’m on the field, I forget about everything,” said Pinheiro.

Pinheiro’s new ambition is to become an engineer.

He said he’s indecisive on whether to study  mining or civil engineering.

One of the schools he wants to transfer to is California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Matheus Zanini

Courtesy of DeeDee Jackson

Matheus Zanini came to the U.S. to continue his journey after traveling the world extensively to play soccer.

Men’s soccer full back Zanini, 22, started playing soccer in his native town of Artur Nogueira, a city in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

He first played soccer in Santos Football Club. Notable soccer players, such as Neymar, began their career in Santos.

During his time at Santos, Zanini had a sponsor who took him to Portugal to play at Academic Association and Lisboa e Marinha at the age of 13.

Zanini played four years in Portugal and was able to develop his soccer skills.

“It was good for me because of the language… they speak Portuguese like me. My father went with me in my first year. It was a good experience and I like Portugal,” said Zanini.

Zanini’s international play continued in Paraguay when he was 20.

However, he played in Paraguay for six months and said he didn’t like his experience.

Zanini said his family has also been supportive of him playing soccer internationally.

Zanini adapted quickly to the American culture because he said his past experiences have helped him.

“For me, it’s normal living in a different country. It’s a good experience to learn about a new culture,” said Zanini.

During his teen year, Zanini also traveled to Europe to play soccer. He traveled to France, Sweden and Germany.

Zanini first played soccer in the U.S. at Cloud County Community College in Kansas.

He said he liked the school because it had a great soccer team, but disliked the weather.

He searched for a new school that satisfied all of his interest.

His former teammate at Kansas and former East Los Angeles College men’s soccer forward Pedro Moraes encouraged him to come to Los Angeles.

Moraes told him to contact ELAC men’s soccer head coach Eddie Flores so he could have an opportunity to tryout for the team.

Zanini said he decided to stay in L.A., becasue it reminds him of Sao Paulo.

Zanini didn’t hesitate and sent Flores a video of him playing. Flores said Zanini was able to adapt to the style of play at ELAC because his experience at Kansas helped him.

However, throughout the season, Flores said Zanini overcame some struggles in soccer, which shaped him as a player and as a person.

“I remember telling Matheus at one point in the season that he might not be the fit for you… I told him you need to think about it. If you decide to stay, you need to be coachable,” said Flores.

Flores said Zanini’s growth was notable during ELAC’s game against El Camino College because he saw that the team and him played with heart.

Although Zanini said he loves soccer, he doesn’t want to be a professional anymore.

“I love soccer, but I’m not a pro. I want to be a coach,” Zanini said. His goal is to major in Kinesiology to become a coach because he want to be involved with soccer.

Zanini said he wants to continue travel to learn about different cultures.

Among the places he wants to travel to is China, India and Africa.

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