By: Grace Long, Staff Writer
The men’s soccer team at Newman University has an international flair this season as over half of the players on the roster are international students.
The 24 international players on the 45-player roster come from 12 different countries: Zimbabwe, Ecuador, Italy, Mexico, Spain, England, Chile, Argentina, Canada, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Madagascar.
Men’s soccer coach Victor Domingues said he finds players by speaking to recruiting agencies, looking at player profiles, reading emails from potential recruits, and by using a variety of other recruiting services.
“I don’t set out to recruit any specific country or region,” Domingues said. “I try to find the best players available with the budget, GPA, and culture requirements.”
Domingues, who is in his first season as head coach of the team, said that international players often bring a higher level of experience. American freshmen will typically come into the program with high school and club experience, having played within their age group, Domingues said. However, many international freshmen arrive in the states having played with men in professional academies or in men’s leagues for two to three years.
“This doesn’t mean it always works out or translates to success, but sometimes it helps to transition quicker to the level of college, where they are playing against guys 22 years old and up,” he said.
More developed players aren’t the only thing the soccer team gains from having a lot of international students. Domingues attributes some of the success the team is having to the players’ different cultures and ages.
“Having players from all over the world provides learning opportunities for not only the players, but also us as the coaching staff to have so many cultures and ways of thinking,” he said.
Senior Carlos Bellosta Manchon from Madrid, Spain, leads the team this year with nine goals and 18 points and has been chosen the Great American Conference player of the week two times. Junior Alberto Romano, who is from Cancun, Mexico, has a team-high five assists.
Domingues, whose team is 3-6-3, said that he strives to make Wichita and Newman University a place where his international players feel comfortable and supported.
“We want to make them feel safe and cared for, as well as be their family and home while they are away from their actual family and home,” he said.
Domingues’ background helps him create a welcoming environment, he said. Domingues was born in Brazil, so his first language is Portuguese. However, he also speaks Spanish and English.
“I think it helps massively that I am able to communicate with different players in different manners to help them feel comfortable and express themselves properly,” he said.
Domingues said that all his players speak and understand English. All his training sessions and coaching points are in English as well. To ensure that team tactics are properly understood, Domingues explains them using words, visuals, and actions.
“When there is a slight misunderstanding, that is when we as staff or players speak a different language,” he said.
Domingues said that with 45 players on the roster it can be tough to eliminate small groups here and there.
“Players from certain countries prefer to stay closer to others who make them feel comfortable and closer to home,” he said, “I understand and this is expected.”
However, overall, Domingues said, he is pleased with the chemistry of his players this season, describing the team as a “great group.”
Domingues said he notices the team closeness at events and team dinners.
“They’re all welcoming and have a good time,” he said.
PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, Newman Athletics