You may not immediately think of Central Community College as a destination for international students. However, you might find it interesting to know 20 international soccer players are on the rosters for 2022-23. There are 14 on the men’s side and six on the women’s side.
One of the first questions that people ask when they learn that international players are at CCC is: “How did you end up here?” For men’s soccer players Rasmus Berg of Odense, Denmark, and Paul Kelling of Hamburg, Germany, they both were contacted by agencies that specialize in bringing athletes to the United States.
“I played a few games for this agency, and they created a highlight video and sent it to coaches in the U.S.,” said Kelling. “Former CCC head coach Hawken Hanna contacted me and said he wanted to sign me.”
Berg had a similar experience before signing with the college, but unlike the majority of CCC student-athletes, he did not tour the campus first.
“I just came here whenever it was time to show up for soccer,” Berg said. “I didn’t know what I was getting into but it’s quite a nice place with very good facilities.”
CCC women’s soccer player Clara Reis searched out a U.S. college to play soccer at and get an education as that was not a possibility in her hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She eventually began emailing CCC head women’s coach Jamie Bennett, who put her in contact with other Brazilian players who played for the Raiders.
“CCC ended up being the best opportunity for me and my family because I really felt at home,” said Reis. “I didn’t want to leave myhome country and be in a place where I don’t belong, and I feel like I belong here. All the staff at CCC treated me so well.”
CCC head men’s soccer coach Luis Pulido said the international players bring a new perspective to the team which is a positive.
“It’s nice to have an opportunity to bring them here to play on a college soccer team,” Pulido said. “They have different backgrounds and styles of play, and we get to come together through soccer.”
Bennett said while he doesn’t specifically recruit international players, he will take them whenever they arrive. “We try to find the best players that we can, whether that’s from Columbus, Nebraska, or Rio De Janeiro.”
CCC Men's Soccer International Players
CCC Women's Soccer International Players