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International Brothers of the Ball

PSU Soccer’s Felix Lindeburg, Rob Wright Reflect on Historically Diverse Roster

By Dan Miceli; For the Clock
On December 2, 2016

International Brothers of the Ball

PSU Soccer’s Felix Lindeburg, Rob Wright Reflect on Historically Diverse Roster 

 

Dan Miceli

For The Clock

drmiceli@plymouth.edu

“From Stockholm, Sweden...From Sydney, Australia...From Maracaibo, Venezuela...”

If you’ve heard an announcement like this before, chances are that you’ve stumbled upon a Plymouth State University Men’s Soccer game. With student athletes from eight different countries this year alone, the men’s soccer program is almost always the most culturally diverse team on campus. Head Coach Rob Wright has recruited players from all over the world, including athletes from the United States, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Venezuela, Uruguay, and England.

Coach Wright, originally from England, has inherited this culture of international students from his predecessors. He explained that this trend of a culturally diverse team started with a man named Jo Frisk. Frisk was a Swedish born player who went to high school in Vermont as a study abroad program, then decided to stay in the U.S. for college. He turned into a four-year player for Plymouth State, and his effects on the program are still felt today. “When he went back to Europe, he started up several businesses that were involved in recruiting and bringing international students to come to colleges,” Wright mentioned.

More than 25 years later, these companies are thriving and bringing students from all over to the United States. One of these students is 3-year captain and Swedish born starting goalkeeper, Felix Lindeberg.

Lindeberg played in the 3rd division of soccer in Sweden before coming to New England, but he was looking to find a place where he could get an education and play the game that he loved. When he realized that Plymouth State already had a few Swedish and international players on the team, it made the decision a little easier to pack his bags and move to New Hampshire.

Coach Wright understands that international students may be a bit hesitant to completely change their lives and move to the United States. However, it’s comforting for potential student athletes to see other players who are far away from home as well. “Guys thinking about playing in college will search and see Australians on the roster, or players from Nevada, and there’s always this kind of roll on effect,” Wright said. This effect is not lost in the recruiting process, as Plymouth State has seemingly become a home for international students.

Lindeberg spoke about his thought process when he first heard about PSU. “Looking at the roster before I came here, I felt a little more comfortable. I saw that there were players from all over the world, and Coach talked to me about the culture of international students. It felt good to know that I wouldn’t be the only guy in the locker room who was from a different place.”

After four years of living in the United States and playing soccer here, Lindeberg truly embraces the family that is Plymouth State. “A lot of us don’t have family nearby, so the friends we make become our family. The feeling of community is one of the best parts of being involved in athletics at PSU,” explained Lindeberg.

The feeling of community is not limited to the international students on the soccer team.

“Since we spend so much time together, all of our cultures start to melt together. We have a team of guys who can say a few words in probably four or five languages, and that’s really cool. I’ll walk down the street and hear an American yell “tjena” (hello in Swedish) and know it’s because of the soccer team. It’s something you won’t get anywhere else,” said Lindeberg.

Coach Wright also acknowledged the mixing of cultures, noting that international students and domestic students both rub off on each other.

“The amount of jorts (jean shorts) you see, the taste in music, the things guys are watching on TV...it’s absolutely influenced by the different groups that we have,” he said.

For Lindeberg, this mix of cultures has helped him to see other points of view.

“Coming to the U.S. has helped me to become a more rounded person. Living and playing with people from all different cultures has exposed me to different points of view and ways of doing things. After being here, I have more than just the Swedish perspective on things. I have seen the perspective of Americans, Africans, and tons of other cultures. It really makes you think about your own values and question what is most important.”

The different perspectives of students are what have made the men’s soccer program so great. On and off the field, players and coaches constantly see things differently. Coach Wright looks at this as a huge benefit. When speaking with international players, he does his best to convey that message. “It’s not that you’re better, it’s that you’re bringing a different understanding to life, to soccer, to studies, and so on.”

When it comes to academics, the men’s soccer program takes it very seriously. With five students on last year’s Little East Conference Fall Academic Team, Coach Wright’s players know how to get the job done in the classroom. “The international students are really appreciating the cost that they’re incurring to do this, and that motivates them to keep on in their studies,” he said.

The PSU Men’s Soccer program is unlike any other, and it is truly a special group to be a part of. The tradition of international student athletes has been engrained in the program’s DNA, and it doesn’t look like it’ll slow down anytime soon. Next time you’re around the PE center, say “Tjena” to the guys wearing jorts. Chances are, they’ll know what you mean. 

 

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