My name is Simon Lugo and soccer has been at the center of my life since I was 6 years old which began with my first summer soccer camp in my father’s country of Venezuela, and since then I have been playing all around the world. I have visited more than 50 countries where I have played in all types of locations and no matter our differences in culture and language, we all communicate using the international language of soccer. I have played soccer in public plazas in Dubrovnik in Croatia, Madeira in Portugal and throughout all of Europe in cities like Krakow, Helsinki, Prague, Rome, Paris, Budapest, Athens, Tallin, Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Bratislava, as well as the streets of Rio, Istanbul, New Delhi, and Buenos Aires among many other cities. I also had the fortune of being able to train at the Breiðablik F.C. Academy in Iceland. Some of my more unique soccer experiences must be, playing with my soccer ball in the Red Square in Moscow, at the equator in Ecuador or playing with the guards at the bush border between Benin and Burkina Faso in West Africa, climbing over their weapons that were placed on the ground while we played. I have played in the desert in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, and Israel, as well as at beaches in places like Belize, Curaçao, Bali and the Galapagos Islands. I have also played soccer in mountain towns in Nepal, South Africa, and Peru, and have played with kids in remote locations like nomadic communities in Mongolia, schoolyards in Bhutan, and even along the Inca Trail in Machu Picchu. In other places, soccer seemed to be the only joy for some kids in villages in Cambodia, Ghana, and Guatemala for example. But the saddest place I have ever played soccer in was at the Fetish Market in Togo (world’s largest voodoo market). The soccer ball immediately brought light to what seemed like a very dark place. I also tried to introduce soccer to the Maasai warriors I met in Kenya and although they were not interested in playing soccer, we really connected, and they invited me to train with them as a Maasai warrior in a 2-week mini warrior camp which was unfortunately interrupted by COVID 19 Pandemic.
In addition to my personal travel experiences, I have played more than 20 international, competitive soccer matches. One such trip was to Spain with my 2005 team (went to Spain twice with this team) where we played matches against the Real Madrid youth academy (Madrid Alevin B) in a televised match on RealMadrid TV that ended in a draw. We also played against a variety of other top teams in Spain including Valencia CF, Grenada FC, Rayo Vallecano, Pinto Academy and Union Adarve. I also trained with the Valencia CF Academy coaching staff. In addition, I traveled with the TSF 2003 team (ranked #1 in the US at the time) to train and compete in Italy against a variety of Italian teams with wins against both the Totti Soccer School and A.S. Roma. My second trip with the 2003 team was to compete in the Netherlands, playing against several local teams including FC Dordrecht, AZ Alkmaar, and the Wooter Academy, among others. I also had the opportunity to learn from, and train with the AFC Ajax Academy coaching staff. During my year with the Cedar Stars DA team, I also traveled to England to play against elite academies including the Bolton Wanderers FC and Derby County, among others.
Soccer has given me many unique experiences and few as exciting as being scouted by FIFA’s Fan Movement, where in addition to participating in multiple digital campaigns, I was invited to attend the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Paris to be their Kid Reporter to report on the event and interviewed one of the US Captains – Lindsey Horan. Being a kid ambassador for FIFA has been extremely rewarding.
Soccer has connected me to people beyond my home, beyond my school, and beyond all the books I have read. It has allowed me to interact with people around the world in ways most people never experience, and it is those experiences that I bring with me to any college that would welcome this unique perspective.
When I hear Pele say that soccer is “beautiful game”, it is not just a tag line to me. I have seen it bring true joy to corners of the world like nothing else can. So, to me, it truly is it the most beautiful game and I hope to continue my soccer journey in college.