CHARLESTON, S.C. – The College of Charleston men’s soccer team and head coach Ralph Lundy embark on a 15-day journey to Brazil, site of the 2014 World Cup, where the team gains a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in a foreign culture and play soccer internationally, all while absorbing the rich culture and scenery of Latin America’s largest nation.
Coach Lundy plans to challenge and develop his Cougars by uprooting them from the comforts and familiarities they’ve been accustomed to at the College, and immersing the student-athletes in the foreign culture and unacquainted lands of a brave new world.
“This is an amazing opportunity and a soccer player’s dream,” said Lundy. “The guys have realized how special of an opportunity this is for the Cougars.”
As part of the journey, the Cougars will play five international friendlies against talented teams in impressive venues which will undoubtedly test the Cougars’ on-field merits, but perhaps more importantly, demonstrate the unifying nature of “The Beautiful Game” and how it transcends cultural and lingual boundaries on a global scale.
The Cougars will challenge Brazilian sides to the likes of Bangu, Cepe Caxias, Duque de Caxias, Sao Cristovao, and Fluminense, in addition to attending top-tier professional matches where they’ll witness caliber teams such as Flamengo, Sao Paulo, Bahia, and Figueirense.
“This is about more than soccer,” said Lundy. “It’s an educational opportunity to see another culture, see Brazil’s amazing sites, and meet amazing people. It’s also a bonding experience and an opportunity for the team to experience something together. It’s something they’ll remember all of their lives.”
The pilgrimage is the result of the tireless efforts of Lundy, his staff, and the players, who each contributed enormously to making the trip possible. Thanks to the Cougars’ hard work and the generous donations of the Cougar family, the team raised more than $73,000 to fund the operation.
The trip marks the sixth time Lundy has taken his team abroad, adding to destinations of Holland (1994), England (1998), Trinidad (2002), Tobago (2006), and Italy (2010).
“We expect this trip to bring our team together and prepare us for the fall season,” said Lundy, “and we hope it will have the same results as our 2010 trip to Italy.”
Following 2010’s Italian tour, the Cougars returned Stateside with a new perspective, and utilized the experience to spawn one of the best seasons in program history. CofC strung together 10 wins and went unbeaten in twelve matches, including a statement win over then-ranked No. 19 Wake Forest. CofC climbed as high No. 25 in the NASCA Coach's Poll and No. 10 in NCAA RPI, before earning its first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and advancing to the second round.
During their travels, the Cougars will maintain a blog which will provide the players’ personal accounts of the days’ events, in addition to pictures and videos along the way. The team’s Twitter account (@CofCSoccer), will also provide updates, observations and pictures throughout the trip.