(Ari Gomez)

Ari Gomez

Cultural acceptance through athletics

Bonding through sports can increase cultural understanding

March 27, 2018

With events such as the Olympics, different cultures are abundant in athletics. People unite over sports, even if they are from different continents.  

Two nations can be watching an event at the same time, such as The World Cup, and feel the same emotions, hoping that their team beats the other. This athletic passion allows people with different cultures to unite over a sport.

The boys soccer team got a chance to unite with a player out of country and bond over their similar passion.

PC: Ari Gomez

Foreign exchange student Jakkpat Nuklin played varsity soccer this past fall and currently plays indoor soccer. Nuklin is from Thailand where he plays soccer for his school in his hometown, Bangkok.

However, he is playing with a different team. Even though the members may be different, Nuklin says he works well with his team members and feels his team accepts him and his strategies.

Freshman Luke Suojanen plays with Nuklin in outdoor and indoor and thinks that Nuklin has helped him with cultural acceptance quite a bit.

“No matter where you go in this world, there will always be something in common, like soccer,” Suojanen said.

Suojanen thinks one of the best things about playing with an exchange student is that there are new skills and plays you can learn from that experience.  In fact, over 265 million people play soccer in Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) leagues according to FIFA, which may mean many different playing styles. Suojanen thinks that sports can help anyone be more accepting of culture.

“You could play any sport,” Suojanen said.

“It doesn’t matter who the person is that your playing with.”

Varsity soccer coach Brent Young thinks foreign exchange students helps the team grow.

“What I love about having exchange students is that they bring experiences to the team that our guys haven’t experienced,” Young said. “There are only so many different things I can coach. Having an exchange player is just added bonus to the team. More importantly, I see my guys learning from him.”  

Young has coached soccer for seven years, and was very excited when he was told about Nuklin.

“The first practice I could tell he’s played a lot,” Young said. “He understands placement on the team and is very aggressive.”
In the end, Young thinks that the addition of a foreign exchange student benefits everyone involved.

“I think the experience of playing with other cultures is unique,” Young said. “It’s different playing styles, personally and game rules. Nuklin will go home with so much more experience than others. I hope he will share those experiences with his fellow classmates overseas.”

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