In February, redshirt freshman men's soccer player Adam Bastidas had the opportunity to travel with the Olympic Development Program Region I Team to South Africa, the country that will host the World Cup later this year. JMU senior communications major Micah Day interviewed Bastidas about his experience.
Q. First and foremost, what should be the priorities of an athlete? In essence, what makes just an average athlete become a great athlete?
A. The main thing that turns a good athlete into a great one is work effort. If you have the skill but the effort isn't there, then you're only keeping yourself and your team from reaching its full potential.
Q. Have you always aspired to someday play internationally?
A. Yes, my dream has always been to play soccer internationally. However, I'm not sure if that is still what I want to do. I think my future involves something with psychology or education.
Q. What has your experience been like playing soccer internationally?
A. The experience of playing soccer internationally is hard to describe. There really aren't many things that compare to having the opportunity to step onto a field against kids you know will one day be playing professionally. Also, you can see how passionate people from other countries are about the game and how much they love it. And for me, that is something I would love to see more of in this country.
Q. How does the experience of playing in South Africa compare to playing domestically and, more specifically, at JMU?
A. They are honestly two completely different things, especially for me. I redshirted this year so I really haven't gotten the full experience of college soccer yet. But from my experiences of playing in other countries, there is just something more thrilling and exhilarating about playing abroad. Plus I love seeing firsthand what other countries have to offer both on and off the field.
Q. What was the most memorable moment for you while playing internationally? Could you describe it?
A. If we're talking about just internationally in general, then it would have to be the tournament my club team played in while we were in England. I had the tournament of my life, scoring four goals in five games. But more importantly, we won the tournament. Nobody gave the Americans a chance, which made the victory even sweeter.
Q. What are your dislikes/reservations about playing in another country, if any?
A. There honestly isn't one thing I don't like about playing in another country. Everyone is very welcoming because they are curious to see what America has to offer in terms of youth soccer. And since I have been blessed to be a part of that, I have no complaints.
Q. Do you believe that playing internationally sets you apart or gives you an extra edge compared to those who do not have the opportunity to play abroad?
A. I don't think it gives me an extra edge at all. I think it just gives me more of a cultural experience that some people will unfortunately never get to be a part of. The majority of the most memorable things that come out of these trips consist of things we do off the field.
Q. Do you feel as though being a guest in another country amplifies your desire to be successful on the field and represent your own affiliations (JMU the USA) more? If so, why?
A. I would definitely have to say yes. Again, just being an American playing soccer in another country feels incredible because you get to represent your country. And since this is the first time I have technically gotten to represent JMU in some way, that was pretty cool as well.
Q. Do you feel as though fans embrace you in a positive manner when you play in another country?
A. I feel as if everyone from other countries embraces us in a positive manner. Off the field, they are very kind and generous people. They want to show us all of the good things their country has to offer. And on the field, I believe that we are slightly looked down upon as Americans. It seems as though no one ever really expects us to be very good. But despite whatever their presumptions of us may be, they still enjoy getting an opportunity to try and beat up on an American team.
Q. When you aren't playing soccer for JMU or on your free time, do you watch it on TV?
A. I don't watch soccer all that often, but I do from time to time. My roommate does keep me updated on everything that's going on in the soccer world all the time though, which is nice. Also, in our suite we love to play FIFA. Games get pretty intense to be honest. And I think our suitemates' new love of FIFA may have sparked their interest in soccer at least a little bit whether they want to admit it or not.
Q. Were you able to follow the Olympics? Which event was your favorite?
A. I actually did not get to follow the Olympics as much as I would have liked to. Believe it or not, the Olympics were hardly advertised or talked about while I was in South Africa so I never really knew what was going on. But I did get to see Shaun White win yet another gold medal. I also got to watch team USA in ice hockey break our hearts in the final.
Q. If you could describe in ONE word the feeling of stepping out on to the soccer field in another country and competing, what would that word be?
A. To be honest... indescribable... haha.
Q. Have you had a negative experience playing soccer internationally? If so, what was it?
A. I don't think I can say that I have. The only thing I can think of would be losing.
Q. Do you hope to play in South Africa again in the near or distant future? Or do you want to play in another country?
A. South Africa actually would be a sweet country to play in again. The culture there is largely influenced by soccer, which is something I would love to be surrounded by. But I think playing soccer in another country anywhere would be awesome, no matter what country.