Men’s Soccer embarks on Guatemala trip for spring break

March 12, 2015

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Soccer is the world's game and the Texas Lutheran men's soccer program will get a taste of that world when it embarks on a week-long trip to Guatemala for spring break 2015.

The trip will serve a number of different purposes. Key amongst those purposes is the chance for the 11 men's soccer players who made the trip to observe and compare the conditioning methods of a professional club, and visit the training facilities of the Guatemalan National Team.

The trip is part of a study-abroad advanced physical conditioning course offering at TLU. The faculty sponsor is TLU Men's Soccer Coach Eddie Salazar.

"I personally feel very lucky to see the support from our alumni base," Salazar said. "There are five soccer alumni coming on this trip with us. With us being such a young program, those results we've seen with the alumni base are encouraging to the future of this program. I think it's a testament to where things are going. If people didn't see good things happening in this program, they wouldn't want to be involved.

"I also have to give a huge shout out to TLU Director of International Education Charla Bailey. Without her support and understanding, and her willingness to work with me, we wouldn't be making this trip. She has been our absolute biggest supporter."

The trip has four objectives. The main objective, of course, will be for the student-athletes to observe and learn about different conditioning methods practiced by professional clubs in foreign countries. While in Guatemala, the students will also have a chance to accomplish some humanitarian goals, connect with a Guatemalan athletic academy and come away with a new perspective from a foreign culture.

After arriving in Guatemala City on Friday, the group will observe the training regiment on the day before a game of the professional club CSD Municipal. The players will have a chance to compare what their own pregame training looks like and perhaps take something from CSD Municipal's program. The group will be looking, not so much for technical practice techniques, but rather what the professional club does to get itself ready to play, physically, for a game the next day.

On Sunday the group will travel to CSD Municipal's Estadio El Trébol to watch the club take on Antigua GFC. After the game the group will leave the stadium and travel to the Futeca School, a youth athletic academy that helps Guatemalans get into U.S. colleges and U.S. athletic programs.

That afternoon, TLU will help run a camp at the soccer pitches at Futeca School, helping teach the students techniques they've learned in the States. In the evening, the 11 TLU players will take on the Futeca Elite U-19 team in a scrimmage.

The next day TLU and Futeca students and staff will share their different soccer experiences.

Afterwards, the TLU group will depart Futeca School and head to the U.S. Embassy. They will have a chance to tour the Embassy and meet with a U.S. Political Affairs Officer.

On Tuesday, the students will have a chance to give back to the Guatemalan community by teaming with VOS, a flip-flop and sandal company owned by TLU alum Jose Flores.

VOS uses 100 percent recyclable rubber to manufacture its footwear, and partners with Agro Salud Guatemala and the Guatemalan National Rubber Association to provide education and basic healthcare to the rubber-producing communities in Guatemala.

Flores played soccer at TLU with Salazar. Flores's brother, Jimmy, is an assistant on Salazar's staff and also played for the Bulldogs. The Flores brothers played a key role in setting up the trip, helping connect TLU with CSD Municipal, the Guatemalan National Team and the Futeca School.

During their time at the rubber plantation, the group will help run a youth soccer clinic at Finca Mixipiya. They will also receive a tour of the rubber plantation.

The final portion of the trip will finally offer a chance for the group to relax a bit and take in the culture of Guatemala. The group will arrive in Antigua, a city of about 35,000, on Tuesday evening. They will spend Wednesday and Thursday taking in the sites and sounds of the city.

You can follow the group's adventures through social media. Pictures and updates will be posted on both TLU Men's Soccer's Instagram (@tlusoccer) and Facebook (Texas Lutheran Men's Soccer) accounts.

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