For the first time ever ASA is participating in the Men’s CCL Pro23 League over the summer! The Pro23 League is offered by CCL as a way to give a competitive training and game environment to U16-U23* players during the summer. The goal is also for players who have recently graduated or are home for the summer to have the opportunity to stay involved with their clubs.
*There are a handful of roster spots open to players over 23 years old.
Each week this summer we’ll be highlighting a different Pro23 player to share his background and soccer pathway. This week we’d like to introduce Sebastian Hendi, former ASA player and recent graduate of Marymount University. (Sebastian will also be coaching in the ASA Academy program for the 2019–2020 season!)
How did you get involved with ASA’s CCL Pro23 team?
One of the staff members at Alexandria knew I had experience playing on a CCL Pro23 team for the past few summers and reached out to me. At first I was initially asked to just be a manager for the team, to bring experience and help with maintenance work, but I ended up trying out and making the team.
What is your playing background — Did you play club? High school? Pickup in your backyard?
Both of my parents are originally from Argentina so soccer has always been an integral part of my life. Since I can remember, my dad would take me and my two younger brothers to the park and we would play pickup games against each other. From there I started playing with ASA in the Academy program and continued until my senior year of high school when I went to Arlington for a year. Throughout my high school years I played for T.C. Williams, spending two years on JV and my last two on Varsity. After high school I went to Richard Bland College (RBC)in Petersburg, VA, where I was fortunate enough to win the program’s first ever conference championship and go to Florida to compete in the National Tournament. After two years at RBC I decided to come back home and finish out my college career at Marymount University.
Was there an experience growing up that really stands out to you as a “monumental soccer experience?”
It’s hard to pick one exact moment because it’s really an accumulation of many that has built my love for the game. There is one recent experience I had that really showed me how beautiful this game really is though. I was in Morocco playing pickup with people who I could not communicate with. I do not speak any Arabic and they only spoke very broken English or Spanish. At one point during the game one of my teammates was yelling something at me and I had no idea what he was saying. When the ball went out of bounds I approached him to apologize for not being able to understand what he was trying to tell me. He looked at me, pointed at the ball and said in his very broken English, “we talk with this.” It was then that I realized the power that soccer had. Here I was playing soccer on a different continent, where I was a complete outsider, and yet had made new connections from kicking a ball around. After this moment I knew that I would never be able to stop playing.
What do you hope to get out of your Pro23 CCL experience?
My first goal any time I step on any field is to have fun. It can be so easy to forget to stop and just enjoy the moment. There are millions of people around the world who would give anything to be in the position I am in so I am sure to never take it for granted. Second, this will be the first time that both my younger brothers—Matias and Gabriel—and I will be on an official team together. I am really looking forward to stepping on the pitch with them and creating amazing memories between the three of us. And lastly but definitely not least, I want to bring a championship to Alexandria. I have lived most of my life here and love this city with all my heart and want to represent it well. What better way to do so than by winning a championship in our inaugural season!
What advice would you give to your younger self (or a current high school player) about how to approach their soccer journey?
Honestly, I think some great advice that I could give to not just my younger self, but anyone looking to start a soccer journey is to value your mental health just as much as your physical health. Being mentally sharp and physically ready will put you a step ahead in the game, and the younger you start to work on your mentality towards the game the more success you will achieve. A great way to build that winning mentality is to always focus on what it is that you can control and put your energy towards that instead of wasting it on what you can not control. Focus on making yourself better everyday and making sure you are striving to be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.
Finally — what are one or two of your favorite qualities in a teammate?
Some of my favorite qualities in a teammate are commitment and dedication. We can all have different personalities and be from different places but when we step on the field and its time to train, I love when my teammates give 100% effort because it inspires me to work hard as well. Plus, if you have a team of guys who are are working together towards the same goal you find yourselves bonding together effortlessly and achieving what you set out to do.
Coach Will Hanna said, “I’m excited to have Sebastian on the inaugural Pro23 team. His work effort and tactical mindset is helping him seamlessly fit into the program. In the first couple weeks he has shown himself to be a leader and brings experience to a strong group of young men. Looking forward to watching him grow as a player and mature as a leader.”
Thank you Sebastian. We love your outlook and clear love for the game! Come out and cheer on the ASA team during their first home game, Friday June 7th, 8pm @ Witter.