A few years ago, Rudy Argueta, the College of Mount St. Joseph’s men’s head soccer coach, realized many of his players had not had the opportunity to travel outside the United States to see some of the best soccer in the world or experience the diversity of an international culture. He set a goal: raise the funds, take the trip and teach his players to have a better understanding of how others live in the world.
After two years and multiple fundraisers, the team finally raised enough money. In August, Argueta and another coach will take 16 players to Madrid and Barcelona, Spain where they will have the opportunity to train and play with some of the youth teams from Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletico Madrid, Valencia, and Sevilla. In addition, they will also be running a soccer clinic for an orphanage.
“This trip isn’t so much about soccer as it is seeing different lifestyles and experiencing diversity,” said Argueta, a native of Guatemala who now lives in Amelia. “These guys play the same teams every year but I want them to have an experience that will open their minds, hearts and see everything that’s out there.”
Argueta has arranged for the Mount players to train, tour Real Madrid (Santiago Bernabeu) and Barcelona (Camp Nou) stadiums, as well as their respective locker rooms and award rooms. They’ll also be able to take pictures with one of the most significant awards in the soccer world, the Champions League Trophy.
The players, who log many community service hours locally including helping with Special Olympics, will also run a soccer clinic for children at an orphanage during their 11-day trip.
“We’ve all been blessed to have solid families that have supported us through our college and childhood years,” said Shayne Bateman, a senior player and a 2010 graduate of Oak Hills High School. “We want to give back to these children who don’t have as much and hope they see other people support them.”
“When this experience is done, I want them to look back and say they’re better people,” said Argueta. “I want them not to take anything for granted and to take these experiences back to the campus, Schueler Field and with them the rest of their lives.”
The College of Mount St. Joseph is an undergraduate and graduate Catholic college that provides an interdisciplinary liberal arts and professional curriculum emphasizing values, service and social responsibility.