Fifteen-year-old Roman Martin will travel to Sao Paulo, Brazil this summer to play for the semi-professional Clube Pequeninos do jockey soccer club. The La Jolla Country Day student will be the only non-Brazilian invited. Martin is the son of Jeff and Lisa Martin of La Jolla Shores, and big brother to Jane. He departs for Brazil on July 1.
After traveling to Brazil a few years ago with his U.S.- based soccer team to play scrimmages, Martin was spotted by Brazilian scouts and asked to return.
“It’s such a huge honor to be asked to play for a country that you’re not even from,” Martin said.
Having played for lower-level clubs in Brazil in the past, Martin explained that some teammates spoke english, but none of the coaches did. They were able to communicate on the field because soccer has its own language.
“It took a while to get used to but (I realized) they don’t even talk to each other in their own language, they usually just make noises to each other and know what they mean,” he said. Martin got used to those noises, figured out what they meant, and was able to communicate with his teammates.
Martin said he’s made several trips overseas to play soccer, each time proving his skills. During one visit to Spain, he participated in a “winner stays” game, where he got to play only as long as his team won. He played for three hours.
Martin said Brazilian-style soccer and U.S.-style soccer are different, but he can play both. “The U.S. is really organized with certain formations and Brazil is very open and free, and runs all over the place. everyone plays different positions all over the field,” he said. “It’s kind of relieving, actually, to not be set to one position ... you can float around and do whatever you want to do.”
Martin said he is excited to play for the semi- professional youth team, which has won more than 200 international tournaments. Many Clube Pequeninos do Jockey players go on to play college or professional soccer.
During the school year, Martin raises money for the non-profit project he founded, “Play For Others,” by asking his neighbors for donations based on the number of goals he scores during games.
Play For Others raises money for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), a condition similar to Attention Deficit Disorder. Martin said it’s an issue near to his heart because it impacts his family.
“I asked (my neighbors) for a certain amount of money per goal that I scored during my (first) year and I earned almost $9,000 by the end of the year.”
His “goal” next year is to raise $12,000. He is developing a website so people from anywhere can make donations. His father, jeff Martin, explained that SPD is an emerging disease and funds raised will go toward educating doctors about what to look for in diagnosing the disorder.
Martin said he would continue to raise money for as long as he plays soccer.
“I want to take soccer as far as possible, I love it so much,” he said. “I hope my next step is to take it from high school to college and be the best college soccer player I can be.”
His Country Day Coach, Jerry Fleischhacker, said Martin is strong in his technical skills and positional, but his knowledge of the game is what really sets him apart. “I certainly expect him to be a key player (next year) and he could possibly be one of the strongest players we’ve had in a while,” Fleischhacker said.