Despite the fact that there is no Division I men’s soccer team, that does not stop one group of students.
On a given November night there are plenty of students playing soccer on the IM fields so you might not notice this club, but amid the many dribbles, passes and volleys there is a group of 25 players that have abilities beyond the rest.
“The talent has always been there,” president Andre Britto said of the Men’s Soccer Club. “It is the commitment that has been missing over the past few years.”
Britto, a junior and management-marketing major speaks critically, but knows how talented his group is and they have a new attitude towards this season.
“We want to be more competitive and travel more. Our goal is to go to nationals next year.”
Britto, originally from Sao Paolo, Brazil, grew up supporting his favorite club, Santos. Having played soccer for as long as he can remember, he joined the club because he couldn’t imagine a life without soccer and loves to play competitively.
Along with coach Bener Mengue, they have instilled an attitude of commitment and motivation that he says keeps the team on the same page.
Using technology such as BBM and text messaging, Coach Mengue knows where his players are when practice rolls around and emphasizes the necessity of motivation in order to win.
Mengue has been coaching at UM since 2007 and he has seen an increase in the team’s drive to win in his time here.
“Mentoring is something I have always enjoyed, I enjoy sharing my knowledge and passing along things I have learned to them.”
By day, coach Mengue is an investor and a career-driven individual who says he is still too young for kids of his own but loves to spend time training the UM Men’s soccer club.
In their most recent tournament at UF, the Canes beat the Gators 2-1 and qualified for regionals in Atlanta. At the regionals, the Hurricanes fell in penalties to the University of Georgia Bulldogs, who would go on to win the tournament. Even though it was an unfavorable result, the standout play of goalkeeper Nick Turner who played with a fractured foot and striker Kevin Waissmann showed heart from the team and promise for the squad’s future.
In addition to a scrimmage with United Soccer League team Miami FC, the club plans on playing in tournaments at FSU, Clemson and Vanderbilt this year and says they will be holding open tryouts in at the beginning of the spring semester.
Calvin Cestari may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.