Venezuelan striker brings Latino flavor to Flagler soccer

By Daniel Arbelaez |
Photo by Dyann Busse

Flagler’s freshman striker Marco Padilla promises a lot of success for the next four years. His experience of playing in many teams is so rich, that in just six months he has shown all of his capacity.

In the 2011 fall season he scored 4 goals. Two of them were overtime goals in two of the most important games of the season. His two cousins, Frank and Rolf Fletcher, play for the Venezuelan National Team. Today, they are two of the greatest soccer players in Venezuela. Both of them play in Switzerland and in Italy, respectively. Padilla is not far from being the same as his cousins. His performance and determination show how much he can contribute to the success of the Flagler men’s soccer team.

Marco, how long you have been playing soccer?

I started to play soccer when I was around 6 years old.

What other sports did you play when you were a child?

Before soccer I used to play baseball. In Venezuela, baseball is and has been very popular for many decades. I also rode horses and competed in rodeo competitions till I was 14. I competed in barrel racing and cutting. I love horses as much as I do football [soccer] but I noticed I had to choose one if I wanted to excel in it because I couldn’t dedicate much time to both. So at the end I decided to pursue soccer and go as far as I can go.

 In your soccer career, what is the most memorable and important goal you have made?

I live in the present so I would say the extra time goal against Lees McRae in the Regional Semi-final. That goal got us through the final and, fortunately, we won 3-0, so I was very glad I could contribute to the success of the team.

 How did the Flagler College soccer team coach know about you?

Well, I didn’t know the story until I came to meet Coach Lynch. I used to play for Lakewood Ranch High School. In my senior year, my team and I had a lot of success. I was the top scorer of the season and one of the coaches whom I played against was a close friend of Coach Lynch. He recommended Coach to me and it went from there on.

 What are your main goals in your soccer career?

Well, I have big dreams because, like the saying says “If you never dream big, you will never be big.” I follow this motto and I aspire to be a professional soccer player. One day, I see myself wearing my country’s shirt and representing them. I also aspire to play in A.C. Milan. Playing for Milan has been my top dream ever since I was a small child. But to get to the top you have to take small steps. So right now being able to be part of such a great soccer college team is a dream come true, and hopefully it will get better!

 Do you have a plan b if something goes wrong with soccer?

Yes, That is why I decided to come to college. The lifetime of a soccer player is a short one and it could go away in a second with one bad injury. So I am well aware of that, so I realized that having a college education can help me a lot. My life goal is not only to be a professional soccer player but I also want to help my country. In my country, most of the population is covered in poverty. I just hate to see that while there is a corrupt government with people doing whatever they want while the good of the people is ignored. So developing a career in politics and economics can help me one day give my service to the people of Venezuela and help them have a rightful standard of living.

 What is the thing you most like about playing for Flagler College?

The thing that I like the most about playing for Flagler College is being surrounded with people that want to get better, that want to win no matter what, people that want to take it to the next level. The coaches and everyone motivates each other, everyone gets along with each other, its just such a nice environment to be in that it makes me love the game more and more. Not many people get the chance to be in such a great successful team, such as Flagler, so I am very grateful to be here.

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