An Inside Look At Pablo Campos
What do a soccer player from Brazil and a watermelon have in common?
It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but Pablo Campos takes the punch line seriously. “I’m like a watermelon. A watermelon is big and a lot of people can be fed from it,” said Campos. “I have lot of kindness that I want to share with as many people as I can.”
Pablo Campos grew up in a middle-class home outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Signing his first contract at age 12 with an elite Brazilian soccer academy, Campos was hand-picked for success. “I was getting paid a lot more money than most 12-year-olds. I could buy my own phone and pay for my own ticket to the movies,” said Campos. “But at the same time, I lost a little bit of my childhood. I always had to go to training instead of hanging out with my friends.”
The pressure that accompanied being a 12-year-old professional was compounded by his parents’ disapproval. Coming from a family of engineers and teachers, Campos’ parents preferred science books to soccer balls.
“I think at that time there were two pressures. One was from the club and one was from my parents,” said Campos. “[My parents] were saying I was focusing too much on sports, but the club paid for all of my expenses. I felt like I had to give everything to soccer in return.” Campos’ parents didn’t consider soccer a legitimate career until he started playing professionally in the US, but since then they have been his biggest fans.
In 2005, Campos was recruited by Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Within four years, he was playing in MLS stadiums that could hold the entire population of Shawnee without selling out the game. Campos’ MLS career reached its climax when he won the MLS Cup with Real Salt Lake, only to be released one year later in 2010.
Three years and two teams later, Campos was signed by Minnesota United. Initially struggling to adapt to the weather and the turf, Campos had a shaky start to the 2013 season. “There were a lot of factors that I had to deal with,” said Campos. “Next year I’m going to have the same factors. Everything depends on how mentally prepared you are, and I’m not going to let myself be unprepared next year.”
His mind may be prepared for soccer, but his heart is focused on family. Though his mom, brother, and sister live in the Rainy City (it’s 1,655 miles to Seattle), his dad still lives in the heat of Brazil (it’s 5,583 miles to São Paulo).
“It’s hard. To be separated from your family is really, really hard,” said Campos. “We get together two or three times a year, but it’s not enough. I talk to them everyday. Whether it’s a call, a Skype, or even just a “what’s up?” via text, I make sure to hear from them everyday.”
He’s good-humored and strong-willed. He always puts his family first. His heart is warmer than the heat index and he can’t help but share kindness wherever he goes. So what do Pablo Campos and a watermelon have in common?
Not much. But needless to say, they’re both pretty sweet.
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