Ivan Moreno, 20, has always enjoyed watching soccer, but he can’t say the same for playing the game.
“My earliest memory is when I was in second grade my parents made told me to join the soccer team at my Christian private school,” Moreno said. “It was really hot, and I was really upset, and I just wanted to go home.”
After that year, he transferred to a public elementary school, and his parents wouldn’t let him give up on soccer. They made him play soccer with the PPO Piranhas; a team that had subsets for different age groups in his local city, Pembroke Pines.
“After two years of being forced to go to soccer teams and soccer camps I liked it,” he said. “I had a great time; playing, hanging out with friends. You’re exercising and it’s competitive and overall a great time socially, physically, and mentally.”
Moreno didn’t have much choice on whether or not he would love the sport, because it’s in his blood. As a Latin American, he said he was surrounded by the sport as long as he can remember. His dad is from Chile, currently ranked fourth in the world according to FIFA, and his mom is from Peru, which is currently ranked 17th.
“Hispanics have a very, very strong tie to soccer, especially their own countries team,” Moreno said. “To my family, the Chilean soccer team is life, and they expected me to be just as passionate as they were.”
Over time, Moreno tried different sports, but soccer is the only one that stuck. For varying reasons, he ended up quitting karate, swimming, wrestling and tennis.
“I like the competition, showing your skills in front of an audience, the social aspect of having a team on a physical level,” he said. “It was an early example of direct involvement with people who don’t think exactly like you, and it helped me deal with people and helped me work with them.”
After eight years of being a player, he became the captain of his team. Another year later, and he was the assistant coach.
“It shifted from an individualistic perspective to a team perspective; how to work with others and trying to get people motivated,” Moreno said.
Even though his parents forced him to start, he’s glad they did, he said. When he has kids, he plans on getting them involved in sports.
“It’s a great way to get motivated and socialize, and it teaches a lot of lessons,” he said. “It would be cool if they liked soccer but any sport or team sport will do, so they can get that feeling.”