Ori Kenett - Israel | Senior defender, business administration

Life as an international student-athlete

The 2019 men’s soccer team consisted of two athletes from Brazil and three from Israel. The students opened up about what it is like, not only being an international student and adjusting to the American culture, but also being a student-athlete.

Ori Kenett – Israel | Senior defender, business administration

“I heard about CPP from another Israeli student-athlete that told about an Israeli coach named Yossi Raz, that at the time was the head coach. The main factor that dragged me into the school was the fact that besides the coach, we had three more Israelis on the team. This gave me kind of a soft landing and helped me to adjust quickly …. I came from Israel after four years without playing soccer at all. I served in the Israeli military without the ability to keep playing. So, getting back into a sport routine was the biggest change­­­­­­­­­—physically and mentally. I also assume it’s true for most of the international students, studying not in your native language is always a big change. This is my first time going to any university, so that was a change in its own. When you add the language obstacle to it, it becomes quite a challenge. It took me four to six months to adapt to learning techniques and gain confidence to talk in class …. Soccer is my first love. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to play at this age, while most of my friends stopped playing years ago …. The combination of playing with your best friends, traveling around the states, winning and ending up with a degree in your hands is absolutely amazing. There is something very special in the athletic department and in the soccer program in particular. Maybe it looks like another program from the outside, but the players and staff know it’s an extraordinary place to be a student athlete.”

Eduardo Faria – Brazil | Junior midfielder, business administration

“I was already in the U.S. and our old coach Adam (Reeves) was watching me play Sunday league games and he liked me.  I sent him my highlight video, he gave me an offer, I accepted and started my career at CPP …. The biggest differences are all the opportunities around here; they are not so often in my country, Brazil. It is also much safer to live here. Of course, I miss my friends and family, but the safety and opportunities makes the U.S. really different from the other countries …. My favorite part of playing at CPP is that we are a family, we work all together. We are very connected and it makes it easier to go forward …. I really like the campus and where I live, it is pretty close to the campus. The facilities that we practice give us all the chances to go to the nationals and maybe win next year. We have all the possibilies to do it, it is just on us to do it.”

Cyro Oliveira – Brazil | Senior midfielder, applied economics

“I heard about Cal Poly Pomona after my first year in Bakersfield because of its success … and one of my coaches presented the program to me. The soccer program was the main reason I decided to attend, the playing style and (the previous coach) Adam. Also, when I came to visit the school, I really liked the campus. Some of the research that I did on the school gave me the perspective that it was a good academic school. The location and amount of students was attractive for my decision …. The biggest change moving to the U.S. was leaving my family behind and the culture change. Leaving my family and friends was the biggest struggle for me, but the culture change, types of food and language was also a difficulty I faced …. My favorite part of playing for CPP was the student-athlete enviroment I had during my time as a Bronco. It’s like having a big family, not only by your own sport but also with al the other sports. The friendships acquired at my time as a Bronco will last forever.”

Alon Grod – Israel | Senior midfielder, computer science

“When I first came to the U.S., I went to San Diego State University for two years. After two enjoyable years, I decided to leave because of personal reasons. At that time, my Israeli friends, Nadeer Ghantous and Ori Kenett were playing for CPP. Nadeer called me and told me that Adam Reeves, the former head coach, wants me to come play for them. I met with Adam and decided to take the opportunity because I wanted to play for a good school like CPP and, at the same time, I wanted to be with more Israelis …. The biggest change for me was that I needed to be more independent and more responsible because I was by myself without my family for the first time …. My favorite part about playing for CPP was the people in the program. The management, coaching staff and my teammates became my second family and every day that I was around them was unforgettable. They were always willing to help and be there for me. If it’s academic problems or personal problems, you know that you are not alone and they will help you to pass every obstacle.”

Omer Green – Israel | Junior midfielder, civil engineering

“In my first year of college, I was at Catawba College, North Carolina. I had already heard about CPP by my friends who played here. When I decided to transfer, my first goal was to transfer to CPP because I knew how good the soccer program was and I knew that the engineering program is one of the best in the nation. That is what I wanted to study and my previous school did not offer engineering. I knew the location was amazing which is an important part as well …. The biggest change is that I’m living here by myself and I have to take care of myself and living far away from my comfort zone, which allows me to cope with difficult situations. And of course, studying civil engineering bachelor’s degree in English …. My favorite part about playing for CPP is the way we play here. The coaches have a system for success. The biggest part is the traveling for away games, that made for the most memorable moments.”

Photos and quotes compiled by sports editor Grace Mikuriya

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