Soccer means everything to Humberto Roura. It has since he was four years old. Looking for something to occupy his time, Humberto’s mother signed him up. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight.
“The first day, I started crying and just went off at practice," Roura said. "My mom got angry, then my father, for the second practice, went there with us and we actually practiced.”
Practice made perfect and Humberto developed into a talented player for his Puerto Rico San Ignacio High soccer team. Heading into his senior season, Humberto looked forward to creating lasting memories. And then Mother Nature delivered a devastating blow.
Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico when the Category 4 storm ripped through the country on Sept. 20th, destroying nearly everything in its path. That included San Ignacio.
"Nothing, nothing can compare to what we saw there," San Ignacio Athletic Director David Richtberg said. "I've never seen anything remotely like that."
On the San Ignacio campus, windows blown out...trees torn down...power gone. The Lions needed help.
Men For Others. It’s not just Jesuit High School’s motto, it’s a way of life.
“Anytime anybody goes through a difficult time, Jesuit people are always willing to help," Jesuit soccer coach Eric Sims said. "I think it’s what we’re here for, to help each other.”
Men For Others happens to be San Ignacio’s school motto too. So it seemed fitting the two teams joined together at Jesuit's inaugural soccer tournament.
Soon after Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, Jesuit officials received a letter from the president of San Ignacio, a fellow Jesuit institution. He described the situation in Puerto Rico as apocalyptic. Jesuit raised $30,000 for relief efforts. $25,000 was earmarked for San Ignacio. Most important to the Lions players, Jesuit provided an outlet that allowed them to just be kids.
Playing under the bright lights, a luxury. Half their country is still without power, including their own school and some players homes. Because of Hurricane Maria, San Ignacio got to play only five games on their schedule this season. This Jesuit tournament, a luxury.
“When I step onto the field, it’s like a relief cause I step out of everything and I just have fun and enjoy," Roura said. "It's like a break for me”
Sports has a way of healing wounds, repairing the broken and helping move things forward. Soccer is doing just that for the San Ignacio Lions.
“Just with the start of the season, you could see like life coming back to the kids," Richtberg said. "I get choked up. That’s what we’re here for.”