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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

5 Cape Verdean players create unique dynamic for Men’s Soccer

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The five members of the Cape Verdean Connection

What do Arlindo Goncalves, Edmilson Barros, Lenir Lima, Pedro Carvalho and Rolando Barbosa have in common? 
It’s not just that they are members of the 11-6-1 men’s soccer team.
It’s not just that they all are key pieces to the Beacons’ impressive run.
These five athletes have all either come from, or have heritage from, Cape Verde, only to find themselves scattered on the soccer field, hallways and catwalks of the University of Massachusetts Boston.
They are known as the “Cape Verdean Connection.”
While assimilating to a different school may be hard, assimilating to a different country presents an even tougher challenge. However, having other members who share a similar background made the decision to attend UMass Boston a lot easier, and the transition a lot smoother.
“Once I found out that there was going to be other Cape Verdeans on the team, it gave me more of a desire to play here, knowing that I would have teammates to relate to,” Goncalves said.
“One of the important factors in my decision to become a Beacon athlete was the presence of Cape Verdean players on the team. This was huge for me due to my experiences of playing both with and against Cape Verdeans for so many years before college,” Barros said.
For Carvalho, UMass Boston wasn’t his first decision. But discovering that he would suit up with his fellow countrymen lured the freshman forward to the Harbor.
“At first I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to play for the Beacons, but after I discovered there were other Cape Verdeans on the team, I met them, and my decision became much easier,” Carvalho said.
For any great team, chemistry is the essential part to winning championships. Having players who can relate to each other helped the Beacons’ chemistry on and off the field.
“I think it does help the chemistry. We all share the same background in language and the way we grew up with soccer, which eases things when getting to know each other on and off the field,” Lima said.
For the Beacons, the “Cape Verdean Connection” began forming outside of the boundaries of UMass Boston’s field as some of the players got together before the season started.
“Two months prior to making my decision to play soccer for UMass Boston, my teammates Rolando and Lenir invited me to play with them in an indoor league that they were a part of. I decided this was a great opportunity to get to know them better, so I went ahead and played along with them. I really enjoyed how we connected passes with each other and how much talent they had. I knew I can work well with talented players and even better, I knew I would ultimately advance as a player myself.” Barros said.
He then added, “being around teammates with a similar culture as mine has definitely helped with my overall experience of team chemistry. Since the age of 14 I played for a team named ‘Valeo FC’ and I always had two or three Cape Verdean teammates on my club.”
Before coming to UMass Boston, first-year head coach, Jake Beverlin was coaching from the Bunker Hill Community College sidelines where he coached Barbosa and Lima during his stint. There, the coaches and players were fortunate enough to build a bond that carried over to the Beacons’ soccer field.
Another key piece to establishing a dominant team is communication. English many not be the first language for these countrymen, but having teammates who can communicate with each other in their native language only made the Beacons team bond stronger.
While the “Cape Verdean Connection” has been a significant part of the Beacons great run, combining 22 goals and 10 assists, Barros strongly deflects any speculation that they are the sole reason for the Beacons’ impressive campaign:
“The biggest factor has been the teamwork, not just the skills we display on the field but from the coaches, trainers, and most importantly each and every member of the team. We work hard and we support each other. While having a Cape Verdean connection on the team has been very beneficial to me in my transition from high school to college soccer, the team overall has helped tremendously. We let the skills we have shine as individuals but as a team, we work together to improve on what will make us stronger.”
For Lima, once the players step onto the field, their Cape Verdean culture is not what is important; their background lines dissolve, as they become one united force.
“We cannot ignore our Cape Verdean background but when we step on the field either for practices or games, it is the unity of the whole team that counts,” Lima said.