Concordia athletes hope the game catches on

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 8, 2002

With the success of the Brazilian soccer team winning the World Cup last week in Yokohama, Japan, local soccer players are hoping the sport will become even more popular in the United States.

At least members of the Concordia College soccer team hope so.

This year, the United States made it to the finals of the World Cup, beating Portugal, South Korea, Poland, and Mexico before losing to Germany one to zero.

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Dan Joseph, Adam Thomas, and Dexter Ali are three of the 11-member team consisting of 10 international students from Trinidad and Africa and one student from California.

The students came to Concordia on a soccer scholarship. The sport had not been played at the college until the coach, Rev. Winston Williams formed the team in the Spring of 1999.

Since then, the team has grown from six players to 11 with hopes of continuing the sport.

Joseph, a junior and wing back for the team, said he was thrilled to see his favorite team, Brazil, win the World Cup.

“Back home, soccer is the most popular sport. It’s like football here in the states. Brazil has won two World Cups in the past 8 years. I think with time, maybe by 2020, the sport will be just as popular in the U.S.,” Joseph said.

Ali, the team’s striker, remembers when soccer was still very new to the community and how many young people embraced the sport.

“In 1999, the team members would help coach kids from the Grist YMCA how to play soccer. There were about 100 students participating from ages 4 to 12. The kids and their parents really enjoyed it – the interest in soccer has grown in Selma,” he said.

Soccer is not as popular in the south as it is in the north, but the

main thing is to get students involved in soccer while in school, Ali added.

Thomas, a goal keeper for Concordia’s soccer team said he too was elated over Brazil’s victory and thinks the U.S. participation in the

finals will spur more interest in the game.

“Quite a few people come to our games. I think the more the U.S. invests in its soccer team, the more popular it will become,” Thomas said.