From outdoor to indoor, a new journey for a Park Alumni

Matheus Teles, Editor

Soccer is one of the most famous sports around the world. Boys and girls from every part of the globe have the dream to become a big soccer star one day. In the United States, universities give an opportunity to soccer players study at their campuses using an athletic scholarship. In 2012, Lucas Sousa received an athletic scholarship to play for the Park men’s soccer team and started a new journey in his life.

Sousa played for an exchange company in Brazil called 2SV, which helps soccer players to accomplish their goal to study in the U.S with a scholarship. In 2012, the company held an event where Park’s head coach, Efrem Shimlis, was there to recruit players. Sousa received more than 10 offers to come to America, but Park’s offer was the one that attracted him the most.

“Park was one of the 12 offers that I had, very good offers which included four D1 schools,” he said. “However, Park was the only school with the ESL program which allowed me to start the program within six months.”

The midfielder played his four college years at Park University and won one American Midwest Conference Championship in 2014. He said that since his arrival at Park, the connection between him and his teammates was very good, and it made his adaptation to life in the United States easier.

“The team connected right away, we became a big family always looking out for each other,” Sousa said. “We won the conference and went to nationals; it was a great experience.”

After his graduation, the Brazilian became part of the Park women’s soccer team as an assistant coach. In August, he will start his fifth season as a member of the coaching staff, and he enjoys sharing his experience inside the soccer team with his players.

“I learn a lot from the girls every single day,” he said. “For me it’s a pleasure to share my experiences and teach the sport that I so much love.”

For Melissa Camacho, a freshman defender majoring in business management, Sousa is very helpful to the team. According to her, the fact that her assistant coach is very communicative helps her to improve her soccer skills.

“He motivates the girls a lot,” Camacho said. “When the girls make a mistake he doesn’t get mad and help us fix it.”

By the end of 2019, Sousa received an offer that would make him start another adventure in his life. The Brazilian signed with the Kansas City Comets, a professional indoor soccer team, and became part of their squad. He said that the opportunity came through friends that he has because of soccer, and then he started to practice with the team.

“I love any type of soccer, futsal, indoor arena, outdoor, so I decided to try,” Sousa said.

The first season for the Comets did not come as it was planned by him. Sousa had an F-1 visa and had to change to a P-1 visa to be able to play for the team. The process of renewal took longer than normal, and he didn’t have the chance to play many games for the Comets.

The Comets decided to send him on loan to another indoor team, the Wichita Wings. This team plays a lower division and there is no need for a pro athlete visa, so he can stay fit while he is not able to play for Kansas City’s team. As a Wichita Wings player, Sousa had 18 goals and three assists in five games, with an average of almost four goals per game.

Indoor soccer and outdoor soccer are very different sports, and the Brazilian could feel the difference in his first season as an indoor player. According to him, the speed and the physicality were the major differences that he felt in the transition from outdoor to indoor.

“The fact that the ball is always in play makes a huge difference,” he said. “There is no time for rest or mistakes, every bad decision can cost you a goal.”

The 2019-2020 season is over for the Comets due to the situation involving the COVID-19. The Major Arena Soccer League decided to cancel all the 2019-2020 games remaining in the regular season.

Sousa said he is very excited for next year’s season because he said that playing the beautiful sport will be the only thing that he will be worried about.

“I adapt to things really fast,” he said. “I believe that I will be helpful to the team.”