Cyro Oliveira (‘20, economics), a former Bronco star athlete, dedicated his blood, sweat and tears to the soccer field for 17 years. Oliveira began playing for Los Angeles Force in September, an American professional soccer club in the National Independent Soccer Association League.
“Playing professional soccer has always been a dream of mine since I was a kid,” said Oliveira.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Oliveira was jobless and dealing with previous ankle injuries he suffered while playing his last year for the CPP men’s soccer team, bringing uncertainty toOliveira’s soccer career.
Despite these challenges, Oliveira remained resilient and maintained his fitness, training with the Los Angeles Force as he awaited the signing of his contract. The club was already familiar with him as he played for one of its club-owned teams before joining its professional roster. This 2020 fall season, Cyro competed in four game appearances in September.
Despite his success in soccer, the road was not an easy one for Oliveira.
Oliveira sacrificed being away from his family in Brazil at a very young age to follow his dreams. He graduated high school in Brazil and left at the age of 17 to come to the United States to play for the soccer club FC Golden State Force with covered expenses. Oliveira wanted the chance to play soccer and attend school simultaneously, so he stayed and applied to CSU Bakersfield.
Oliveira began to play for CSU Bakersfield’s soccer team but transferred to CPP knowing he would experience better success withthe Broncos. Even now Oliveira only sees his family once a year, but regardless of his circumstances, Oliveira found a home at CPP.
“It was the final eighth game and I was able to score the game winner,” said Oliveira describing the quarterfinal game in 2018 against West Texas A&M. “There were a lot of fans, families and friends … not my family, but I think this was one of the happiest moments I had with Cal Poly.”
During the beginning of the 2019 season, his last before graduating, he suffered ankle injuriesthat threatened to slow him down.
“He showed huge professionalism in how he treated his body,” said Matt O’ Sullivan, head coach for the CPP men’s soccer team. “He had a couple key injuries and was able to bounce back; I don’t know if every player would have been able to bounce back from those injuries and play such a crucial role in the team.”
In the 2019 season, Oliveira played 1,187 minutes, boasting 10 assists and six goals for the Broncos men’s soccer team.
“He’s a role model for future players in Cal Poly,” said O’Sullivan. “Our core values are commitment, creativity, comprehensive character and he really encompasses all four.”
According to O’Sullivan, when Oliveira was injured, he always supported his other teammates. Oliveira demonstrated leadership not only on the field but also in the classroom.
Off the field, Oliveira worked as a student assistant in the admissions office, and proved to be an excellent student. In 2017 and 2018, he was named for the CCAA Fall All-Academic honors, an award given only to the highest academic achieving student-athletes.
Oliveira managed his time well by finding extra time to practice after training 20 to 25 hours per week with the team during the season. His dedication won him honorable collegiate awards like the CCAA Tournament Most Valuable Offensive Player in 2019, All-CCAA First Team in 2018, All-CCAA Honorable Mention in 2017 and five more team mention awards in the three years he played for the Broncos.
The success of CPP’s men’s soccer team gave Oliveira a platform to be seen by professional teams. In 2017, 2018 and 2019, the years that Oliveira played, CPP ranked high in the standings among 13 universities and participated in the CCAA tournaments.
Prior to his contract signing on Sept. 6, 2020, Oliveira had played for FC Golden State Force, the same organization that signed him as a professional player which gave him a sense of familiarity within the institution. Oliveira still had to try out for them and play a few tournaments to prove himself as the strong player he is before they agreed to sign him amid a pandemic.
The transition between college soccer to professional soccer hasresulted in a big step for Oliveira because the level of play and commitment in professional soccer is stricter, with higher expectations to perform.
Oliveira advises CPP student-athletes who are looking to go professional to stay focused, work hard and to think of their long-term goals.
“Every day is an opportunity to get better so it’s just about believing in yourself and working hard,” said Oliveira.