Brazilian Soccer Phenom Sets Record, Learns Lessons at Bethel
Ricardo Carvalho ’15 never envisioned himself in Mishawaka, Ind., with a college degree and three languages under his belt by his mid-twenties. The business administration major, who hails from Salvador Da Bahia, Brazil, came to Bethel College after connecting with Bethel Head Men’s Soccer Coach Thiago Pinto ’05, ’07, ’11, through mutual friends in Brazil. Studying and playing soccer at Bethel proved to be life-changing for Carvalho, who was recently honored as the 2014 NCCAA/NSCAA Player of the Year for D1 men’s soccer (a first in Bethel men’s soccer history).
Carvalho began playing at the age of 10 and longed to use the sport he fell in love with to chase his dreams. While still in high school, he signed with his first semi-pro club in Brazil. For most, this alone would seem like a great feat to accomplish, but his ambition would take him farther than he ever thought possible.
Carvalho arrived at Bethel College in the fall of 2011. With almost five thousand miles between family and no knowledge of the English language, he began a new chapter of his life. With the support of teammates and Coach Pinto, also a native Brazilian and Bethel alumnus, Carvalho settled in.
“I came to Bethel because Thiago was so kind and attentive to me; he made sure I had everything I needed. He kept up with me and took interest in the things I liked to do,” Carvalho says.
He went on to play three outstanding seasons for Bethel men’s soccer, eventually adorning his uniform with the captain’s armband. But it was his senior year that made the mark any individual college player dreams of.
As a midfielder, he had an astounding 2014 fall season, helping the Pilots to an 11-10-1 record. During this encore, Carvalho led the team with an onslaught of assists (13), while finishing second in goals by scoring 12, four of which were game-winners. With a performance so extraordinary, it came as a surprise when he didn’t win the award for NCCAA offensive player of the year.
Understandably, Carvalho was disappointed. But while he was home in Brazil during Christmas recess, he received an unexpected message from Coach Pinto. He had been named 2014 NCCAA/NSCAA Player of the Year!
“At that moment tears came out … I didn’t expect it at all. I felt so happy.”
Additionally, Carvalho also achieved a remarkable third-straight mention as both an NCCAA All-American and All-Crossroads league first team member.
Teammates Lukas Muszong, a sophomore from Germany, and Pedro Amaral, a junior forward from Brazil, also achieved All-American status for the Pilots. All together this drives the soccer program’s honors to 51.
“Bethel … helped me realize the things I wanted in life. The choices I’ve made while studying here have benefited me so much,” Carvalho says.
Since graduating in May, Carvalho has been helping with several church summer soccer programs while searching for a job in the area. In the future, he hopes to open a Brazilian restaurant near South Bend. He also wants to run soccer programs that can help kids achieve the dreams and passions he has pursued since the age of 10.
“I would have never imagined that I would have this opportunity. I am proud of myself because I now know how big of a deal it is to come to the U.S. to be a student athlete. I’ve learned so much and all in just four years. My life changed so much here,” he says.