Photo Credit: San Antonio FC
When you mention the sport of soccer, one of the first countries you think of is Brazil. They play a unique brand of soccer and are always fun to watch. Soccer is a religion in the country and San Antonio FC’s Pecka got involved at a young age.
“I started kicking the ball around when I was four years old, and when I was six my mom signed me up to play at a small academy,” Pecka says. He credits his mom with being the person that really got him involved in soccer. “She has always supported me, ensuring that I was playing regularly in academies and making sure that I was competing well so that I would have good opportunities when I was older, and now I find myself playing pro for San Antonio FC,” he says.
Back in Brazil, Pecka had the chance to play for Flamengo and CFZ. Both clubs have a strong tie to Brazilian legend Zico, a star player for Flamengo and the founder of CFZ. Describing that experience, Pecka says, “It was incredible. We all knew Zico as a great player and he made history with Flamengo and helped build the club into what it is now. I’m very proud to have played where he played.”
Zico is one of many soccer legends that hail from the South American country. Pecka didn’t have to struggle to find a compatriot to idolize. “When I was really young, I looked up to Romario. Then, Ronaldo “El Fenomeno” came along and I admired him. Nowadays, my favorite Brazilian player is Neymar,” he shares. “Brazil has always had tremendous players, but these three have influenced me very much, and I hope that Neymar can lead Brazil to victory in the World Cup this summer.”
Speaking of the World Cup that kicks off this week, it’s obvious who he is rooting for. “Well, I hope that Brazil makes it to the final and wins the World Cup! But if they don’t, I’d like to see Spain or Colombia have good runs in the tournament,” says Pecka.
While the world watches soccer’s biggest tournament, San Antonio FC will be battling for a second straight playoff berth. When asked what he thinks this year’s team can achieve, he answers, “I think it can be very special. Our biggest strength is that we’re a family. There’s nobody here who is selfish or puts oneself above the team or the club. We all work towards the same goal and the structure here is amazing, from club leaders, to the technical staff, to the front office and the team. I think all of that makes us grow in the same direction and it’s all very positive.”
Obviously, the United States has light years to go before coming anywhere close to his native country’s love for the game. But, Pecka has been impressed by the growth he has seen since arriving in 2011 with the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers. “It’s massive. Everyone I know asks me about American soccer and they want to come play here, but the great thing is that they’re not only asking about MLS,” Pecka says. “They also know about the USL and other divisions in which there’s quality competition, and they’re excited to know what soccer is like here and they’re looking for opportunities.”
Pecka will look to take advantage of his opportunity this season and help lead San Antonio FC on their deepest playoff run yet. Hopefully, Neymar won’t be the only Brazilian leading his team to hold up a trophy in 2018.