Claremore Daily Progress

Community News

August 8, 2012

Sousa’s march to success

Native Brazilian, Academic All American recounts struggles

CLAREMORE — For Henrique Sousa, coming to America was a means to an ends for him to play soccer.

A native of Sao Paula, Brazil, Sousa’s dreams of becoming a professional soccer  — or “futbol” — player seemed to be coming true when he received a soccer scholarship from Rogers State University in 2008.
The only problem? He couldn’t speak any English.
“I learned early in life to live every day to the fullest, to start every day with the attitude that you’ve got to work hard and make the most out of every day,” Sousa said. “Back in Brazil, I had a friend who loved soccer like I did — like I do — but he was in a motorcycle accident when he was 20 years old and couldn’t walk.
“Even so, he wasn’t angry with life, he was very upbeat, very positive, because up to that point, he’d been able to do what he loved in life — play soccer — and he had no regrets,” he continued. “From that point on, I took what happened to him as a lesson to me and always appreciated every day I was given, every 24-hours of every day, making the most of it, working hard to overcome adversities. Adversities which I ran into when I came to America, especially, since at that time, I could not speak English.”
Sousa, who many Rotarians already knew as a server, had worked for years at RSU in the food service, but addressed them Tuesday as a new Rotarian.
“It was very difficult when I first came here. I thought I was only here (at RSU) to play soccer, not to study, not to get a degree, but I quickly learned that if I was going to play, I would have to go to classes which wasn’t easy, speaking only Portuguese,” he said. “I couldn’t understand a word that anyone was saying to me in the beginning and I was having to study in order to play. I wondered what I was in for.”

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