On this School Team, Soccer is the Universal Language
Cyrus Etheridge is enjoying his high school season. The undefeated PSLA at Fowler team was recently honored as CNY Central’s Toyota Athletes of the Week.
“I think we have a good chance of winning this year,” says Etheridge, a 10th grader who is the only player on his school team from the United States. Etheridge also plays on the SDA ‘02 Boys team.
Many of his school teammates are refugees from more than a dozen countries, speaking as many languages. There are boys and young men from the African nations of Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia; Madagascar, off the African coast; Jamaica, a country in the Caribbean; Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula, and other Asian countries including Nepal, Iraq, Burma and Thailand.
“I actually enjoy learning their languages, and then they get to learn English better,” Etheridge says.
He started playing soccer at a young age, a couple years after his family moved to Syracuse from North Carolina when he was 2. His mother was coach of his recreational team. Etheridge became more serious about soccer and enrolled in SDA around the age of 8. Now he intends to play in college. Usually Etheridge plays center defensive mid, or center midfielder. He loves the sport because of “how it’s such a physical, high-intensity sport, with lots of action going on.”
He describes himself as a player who likes structured, possession-based team ball. His school teammates prefer a freestyle. But the combination seems to be working. The team has 11 wins and one scoreless tie. Etheridge recalls that PSLA at Fowler lost to Watertown in sectionals last year. He thinks the team has a good chance of winning this year.
Teammates play well together on the field and off the field. “We all get along pretty good,” Etheridge says. “We hang out with each other. We’re pretty much like family.”
His teammate, Ridwan Sirad, a native of Somalia and a junior midfielder, told CNY Central that sometimes when he has long days “I just can’t wait to come here and practice and have fun.”
“Soccer means everything, and it makes me happy,” Somalia native and senior team captain Sadiq Sirat added, before Ethiopia native and junior midfielder Jamal Bilata added that “there’s a lot of hard work and commitment in this team.”