Athlete Spotlight: Francisco Pereira

The United States of America is very different from other countries. Coming to America from a foreign country is not the easiest process to go through. Students who want to study abroad have to go through a big process, especially during a pandemic.

Francisco Pereira, 19, is from Portugal. He is a soccer player. He has been playing soccer since he was 5 years old. He has never been to America. Pereira got the idea to study in America from one of his close friends and thought it was a good idea. Pereira wanted to study in America for several reasons.

One reason is in America it is easier to get a degree and having an American degree in Europe is much better than a European degree. Another reason for wanting to come to America is because it is easier to become a professional soccer player, and America pays more money to professional soccer players.

Pereira had doubts that he would not be able to come to America because of all the things he had to do to be able to get into the country. First, he had to take the SAT and get an almost perfect score. He also had to get a student visa and since there is a pandemic, he had to do more things to make sure he tested negative.

Pereira has only ever lived with his parents. Coming to America, knowing nobody, and not having his parents by his side, scared him.

Pereira said, “I almost gave up in the first week because I was missing my parents.”

There were two other Portuguese students that arrived with him which made him feel more comfortable because they spoke the same language and their English is not very good. André Mendes, one of the other Portuguese boys said, “Having two other boys from Portugal definitely helped me feel more comfortable.”

One of the main reasons Pereira came to America was to play soccer. Pereira played a total of four games before he got a bad injury in his fifth game.

Pereira said, “I waited two weeks after the injury before going to a doctor to see if it would heal on its own.” He went to the doctor and found out he tore his meniscus and he needed surgery.

Pereira was worried about the cost of the surgery because in Portugal, people do not have to pay for anything medical related and he knew it was going to be expensive.

Pereira said, “I was scared because this was my first injury and I wanted to go back to Portugal to have the support of my family and friends.”

Pereira had a very hard time adjusting after the surgery. He is a very anxious person and soccer distracted his mind from his anxiety. Since the injury, he did not have that escape. The first weeks after his injury, he did not get much sleep.

It has been four months since Pereira’s surgery and his knee is not healed. This frustrates Pereira because it is messing with his soccer career. He has been slowly introducing soccer and working out back into his life.

Pereira recently joined an indoor soccer team and has not played in a game since the one he got injured in. Pereira said, “The ball felt weird in my feet and I could not pass the ball correctly or do the things I could do before my injury.” Playing soccer again with an unhealed knee scares Pereira. Another injury is the last thing he wants.