Brazilian transplant helps kick-start soccer team
Gabriel Dias is just in his first season with the Wareham High School boys varsity soccer team, but coming from Brazil – where the sport is a way of life – has him well prepared.
“He’s got the best touch of anyone on the team,” said junior varsity coach John Sousa.
A Portuguese speaker, Sousa acts somewhat as a translator for Dias, who moved to Wareham in January to be with his father. At the time, Dias didn’t speak English at all. Since then, he’s made great strides and picked up the language quickly. His secret? “I watched a lot of T.V. this summer,” he said.
Dias joins the team one year after it posted a 2-16 record. His background should serve the team well. In Brazil, a soccer game is never far away.
“We always find a way to play soccer, no matter what,” said Dias. Pickup street games are a staple, as is playing barefoot, which helps with ball control, and there’s also “footvolley” – a Brazilian invention that combines soccer and beach volleyball.
Head Coach Evan Wilga said Dias fits right in with a core group of players that is now starting to find their rhythm on the field.
Previously, it was hard to hold onto players for more than one year. Now, there are a group of veterans, led by brothers Matt and Joseph Pearle, who have been playing soccer since they were young children.
“Everyone is playing together as a team now,” said Wilga. “It’s not a revolving door anymore.”
The problem, said Wilga, is that talented players often leave for schools with stronger soccer programs, such as Tabor Academy or Bishop Stang.
With this year’s squad, he’s hoping to improve modestly on last year’s record and earn four to five wins. The program should then grow from there, he said.
“We may not be the most skilled team in the league, but in terms of athleticism and toughness, all these players want to do is compete,” he said. “As a coach that’s great.”