From fútbol to soccer
International student experiences struggle in transition to American culture, finds niche as Biola athlete. | Photo courtesy of Brooks Ginnan
Men’s soccer senior defender, Carlos Christian Aparicio has experienced challenges in distinguishing fútbol and soccer. However, Aparicio has successively transitioned to the American type of play, showcasing speed and an attacking nature over the past four years.
Born and raised in Puebla, Mexico, Aparicio experienced a major culture shock in between Mexican soccer and the United States-styled play. He suggests that Mexico and the U.S. play with different paces. Aparicio zips past midfielders consistently with speed when playing for the Eagles, a pace that is considered uncharacteristic in Mexico-style play.
“In the U.S. we are going to be more vertical and direct with our passing and faster doing so. In Mexico we like to hold on to the ball and keep possession,” Aparicio said.
MORE PHYSICALLY DEMANDING
At Biola, Aparicio said the Golden State Athletic Conference is comparably stronger and faster. The 5’7”, 170 lb. defender has imposed his strong nature upon other players.
“The U.S. styled game is more physically demanding because everyone is bigger and faster. Mexico, like I said, is slower and smaller," Aparicio said.
Head coach Todd Elkins switched Aparicio’s role this year by putting him on the offensive end of the field as a forward and midfielder, an indicator of Aparicio’s valuable versatility.
“Christian is a great defender. His style suits more of an attacking role,” Elkins said. “Christian is so versatile. We’ve used him at outside-back and even in the central mid. He’s got experience at different spots.”
This strategy has paid dividends, as Aparicio has scored three goals with a team-leading .500 shots-on-goal percentage this season to accompany his stout defense.
Teammates agree that Aparicio is an extremely physical player on defense and offense.
“On the field, [Christian] has a bulldog attitude when it comes to defending and his creativity on offense comes alive when he attacks,” said John Hanscom, senior forward. “It is inspiring to see how ardently and honestly he worships Christ during a game.”
FINDING A NICHE
As a shorter player, other opponents sometimes enforce their physicality on Aparicio. This was evident in Biola’s match against Menlo College on Sept. 22 when Aparicio suffered a broken nose on a flying elbow. Aparicio’s nose is still broken because he does not want to miss any more games this season.
To alleviate the stresses of adjusting to American culture, Aparicio credits his former roommate and teammate Carlos Ballesteros in his transition to living in America and learning to play U.S.-styled soccer. After playing in the United States for four years, Aparicio admits that he was too aggressive for a Mexico-style of play, and has now found his niche as a soccer player in America.
SHARING HIS STRUGGLES
Even though Aparicio’s soccer-talent has seemingly transitioned well to the U.S., his personal life has had its share of struggles in the midst of understanding American soccer and culture.
“In the past I struggled with alcohol and drug abuse. At first I thought I could function and live life while drinking and using and did not think of the consequences, but when I moved to the U.S. with an international visa, I realized how these acts were ruining me,” Aparicio said.
Aparicio realized his issues and found a safe haven away from the darkness, moving towards the light in Christ. He eventually became sober and now wants to use his mistakes as an example for others to learn from.
“I know that I am not perfect and have no qualifications to help those who struggle, but I know that is the past and God knows it is too. God has a plan for all of us. Now I can take my past and use it as my testimony and help those who seek guidance in me,” Aparicio said.
EXEMPLIFYING HIS FAITH
After facing and defeating his addiction, Aparicio has become a man of strong faith and uses exemplifies his faith on the field.
“[Christian] is a person that surrenders to the will of God.” said Leonardo Contreras, junior forward.
Aparicio’s goal this season was winning GSAC Tournament in his last year at Biola. Aparicio eventually went on to help the team achieve that goal as he scored the deciding goal against Hope International in the semifinals round.