Marcelo Maziero, Contributing Writer
Born in Brazil, the country of soccer, MC freshman Gabriel Gurgel, 18, started playing the sport when he was only 5 years old. Gurgel, who is originally from Rio de Janeiro, said “I remember myself playing around with a soccer ball since I started walking.” Today he is a soccer player at Mississippi College, but he overcame a lot of challenges before joining the Choctaws.
When Gurgel was only 5 years old he joined a well-known soccer academy in Brazil named after one of the biggest Brazilian idols, Zico. After years of hard training, he was selected to join the Rio de Janeiro Soccer Federation and started playing in different leagues and tournaments representing his state. In 2011, when he was 15, he started playing semi-professionally for a huge team known across the country, called Vasco da Gama – one level below the professionals. At this point, Gurgel had teammates who were playing for the under-17 Brazilian selection.
In August of 2012 he decided he did not want to become a professional soccer player, but he knew he could use his soccer skills as a tool to get a good scholarship from an American University and start his studies in Business Administration– his current major. In order to make this idea come true, Gurgel spent one year studying only English.
Gurgel hired an agency that specialized in sending Brazilian student-athletes to the United States and Gurgel had two other offers, excluding MC’s offer: Benedictine University in Illinois and University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky. “After studying the offers I decided for Mississippi College. Everything seemed better here than at the other universities: the education seemed better, the soccer team seemed better, everything. Today I feel like it was the right choice,” he said.
Before the regular season started, Gurgel played two exhibition matches for MC, and showed his potential on the field. In one of the games, he scored once and had an assist; in the other game, he had an assist and, even though he did not score, was satisfied with his performance. “Unfortunately we had two draws in the exhibition games, but I’m happy with the way I played. It was my first time playing here so I was not completely adapted. But it was good to be able to play, this way I know where I am and what I have to do to get better,” according to Gurgel.
Three weeks ago during a regular practice Gurgel twisted his ankle and since then has not been able to practice regularly. He has been working with the trainers to get better as soon as possible and get back in the field to help the Choctaws. According to Gurgel, he was told that he might be able to start practicing again in two weeks, and he is looking forward to doing so.
“I wasn’t here last year but I know how important the transition from D3 to D2 is and I’m here to do my best and help my teammates accomplish their goals. I’m working harder and harder to be ready whenever I have the chance to assist the Choctaws in any way I possibly can,” Gurgel said.
MC soccer team plays in Rome, Ga., next against Shorter University, and the next home game will be against Spring Hill College (Alabama) on Oct. 24.