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Men’s fútbol team gains perspective on trip to Guatemala

April 24, 2015


People all have their own ideas of what spring break means. For many, it’s a chance to get away from studying to visit a tropical destination. And while Guatemala has some beautiful beaches, the Texas Lutheran University men’s soccer team’s recently ventured south of the border for far more than a typical spring break experience.

As part of the lab portion for their advanced physical conditioning class, KINS 319, Men’s Soccer Coach Eddie Salazar ’02 and brothers José ’03 and Jimmy Flores ’06 accompanied the 11 student-athletes. While the team had the opportunity to observe the training methods and scrimmage U17 and U20 players with Guatemala’s largest professional football club, CSD Municipal, their travels also allowed them to gain a global perspective on humanitarianism.

Flores is founder and CEO of VOS®Flips— a globally conscious brand that produces eco-friendly, 100 percent recyclable natural rubber sandals. The company’s social initiative also supports rubber-producing communities in Guatemala with health care and education.

Coach Salazar said the experience allowed his players to take in the culture educationally, athletically and socially.

“We visited the VOS® rubber plantation and also partnered with them on a project that provided school supplies to the 250 students on the plantation,” Salazar said. “We also hosted a free soccer clinic in Guatemala City for children of impoverished communities. Our itinerary allowed us to see the broad spectrum of society in Guatemala and gave us perspective in comparison to our everyday lives. From the humanitarian work to the playing experience and everything in between, this group came together and set the tone for the future of our program.”

José Flores said the passion and conviction displayed by the team confirms that sharing the global humanitarian development of VOS® will have positive ripple effects in the lives of others.

“We are firm believers that we may not be able to change the entire world, but we can definitely change the world around us,” Flores said. “The aforementioned is exactly what the TLU men's soccer team did every step of their journey prior, during and after their inaugural trip. We're honored to have been able to contribute to the efforts of expanding the TLU footprint globally and we appreciate everyone who supports it in each of their capacities."

The trip also allowed the team to strengthen partnerships with private high schools in the area, visit the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, and experience old-world influences in the city of Antigua.

Although the trip allowed for unique playing experiences and the opportunity to attend a Municipal match at Estadio El Trébol, junior social entrepreneurship major Gabriel Sanchez said it was the time spent with school children that left the biggest impression. 

“Guatemala is a beautiful country, but spending time with the kids was the best experience I had,” Sanchez said. “When you really appreciate what you have, you want to give these kids the world. I felt as if I was the one being impacted. The trip was truly amazing.”

Watch the video of the visit to the rubber plantation. View the Guatemala trip photo gallery with more videos.