-When did your passion for playing soccer begin, and when did you decide you wanted to play professionally?
Soccer has always been my passion, as a matter of fact my mother told me that since a very young age I kicked any round object that was around the house. I've always responded that I wanted to become a professional soccer player to anyone who asked what I wanted to be when I grow up. However, I took things to a serious level at age 14 when I told my family I wanted to leave El Salvador and go finish my high-school career at IMG Soccer Academy. I knew that this change in my life would give me the opportunity of making my dreams come true. At age 15, I embarked the most beautiful and challenging journey I could have ever imagine!
-How did you prepare for it and share with us what you continue to do (you mentioned you're studying online)
Preparation is key, without preparation there is no chance of success, as a matter of fact you are on your route to failure. To prepare properly you first need to set your priorities straight and this can be hard because there will be many things that you will have to abstain yourself from, for example : partying, drinking, smoking, family vacations, friends reunions, sleeping late, junk food etc. When you work to become a professional athlete you need to devote your life to it, you are either ALL IN or ALL OUT, there is no in between. In my case I have two priorities : (1) My professional life, which includes soccer and academic education and (2) my personal life, including my family and my faith (Catholicism). I try to keep both hand in hand and I build my life around them.
Currently I play for Sport Club Alba from the 3rd division in Portugal and since 2013 I study online through St Johns University (New York) Hopefully I will get a Bachelor in Administrative Studies within the next year and eventually I will work hard to get a Master's in Sport's Management. As well, in Aveiro the city I live in I'm attending theUniversity of Aveiro and I'm studying languages, I speak 5 languages (Spanish, English, French, Portuguese and Italian). Now my next goal is learning German !
-Do you mind sharing what the life of a professional athlete is like?
It is beautiful, but very very hard. Like I have stated before your life revolves around the things you NEED to do, not necessarily on what you WANT to do. However I try to live with a balance so I can healthily enjoy the good things of life. This is what a normal day for me looks like when I'm in season:
6h30: Wake Up
7h30 am: I have breakfast and I read one Chapter of the Bible
8h30 am: I leave the house to the training ground.
9h00 - 12h30 : Training
21h: Dinner and studying
22h : Sleep
I follow this routine 5 days a week, on Saturday I have only one training session and on Sunday I play a league match. Tough schedule to follow for 11 months, of course there are days I don't want to do ANYTHING, but on those days I try to remind myself how blessed I'm of being able to do what I LOVE! I have always said "when you do what you love, you don't need to work one single day of your life!"
-What message do you have for EA students when it comes to following their dreams and working towards their goals?
I would tell all of them:
Find what you love and follow it and please don't let anyone or anything tell you otherwise. God has given us talents and gifts and our job is to exploit them and inspire those around us to do the same. This is our gift back to God! You will struggle, you will face adversity, there will be many doubters and haters, no one said it will be easy, but it will be worth it. Don't pray for easy life, pray for the strength and courage to fight through all the struggles life throws at you and enjoy the process! Success is not a destination it is a journey. Set high goals and don't stop working until you reach them. God Bless you!