Foot work: Area man born into soccer tradition - Valley Morning Star : Slice Of Life

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Foot work: Area man born into soccer tradition

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Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:30 pm

A little more than 30 years ago in the town of Miramar, Buenos Aires in Argentina, a child by the name of Christian Yarussi was born into a soccer family.

His father, a professional soccer player, played for clubs like Boca and Racing in the Argentinean Primera Division.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Yarussi, who now lives in Harlingen, grew up with the passion and love for soccer and it seemed destined that he become a professional himself.

As the Brazilian legend Ronaldinho once said, “I learned all about life with a ball at my feet.” The same could also be said for Yarussi, who went to drastic lengths to ensure he stood out from those around him.

“In Argentina, futbol (soccer) is the number one sport and everybody has the same dream. Everybody,” said Yarussi. “How am I going to make it (professionally) if I don’t do anything different from the person on my left and the person to my right? If he trains for four days then I have to train for five. If I’m good with my right (foot), then I have to learn how to use my left, too.”

At the age of 10, Yarussi began taking a two-hour bus ride from his home town of Miramar to the coastal city of Mar de Plata where he began training with professional Club Atletico Temperley.

For five years he made daily four-hour round trip commutes and when the opportunity came to move up he did.

“It’s a sacrifice. At that moment you don’t notice, but over the next few years I was getting calls from bigger and bigger clubs and my friends weren’t,” Yarussi said.

While playing for club Atletico Kimberley, Primera Division club Huracan saw something in him and picked up his contract. After playing for Huracan Yarussi received a call that many never receive: an opportunity to play in the European league.

German football club Eintracht Frankfurt had contacted Yarussi’s current club and agent to inquire about his availability.

“I was extremely happy. It was a reward for the time, effort and attitude I put into it,” Yarussi said. “I pursued a dream and this time my dream came true.”

When the transfer window opened up, Yarussi found himself on the other side of the world learning to handle life outside his native country of Argentina. His playing career had taken him to a new high that included playing against some of the best players on the planet and playing in one of the best leagues in the world, the Bundesliga.

Playing in Germany, however, wasn’t easy, and the culture and style of play was different.

“In a soccer team everybody is different,” Yarussi said. “Whether you speak German, Spanish or English you begin to understand that even though we are not from the same culture or religion, we can still live side by side with one another.”

After his time playing for Eintracht Frankfurt was over, Yarussi moved to the United States to pursue coaching and over the next five years he attended licensing classes and got his bachelor’s degree in sports nutrition.

One day the director of the Olympic Development Program (ODP) saw him working toward his national license in San Antonio and asked if he was interested in being part of the ODP.

The ODP is a youth soccer development program that breaks down the United States into three regions and from those regions they select the best players to represent the United State in international competition. ODP has produced some of America’s biggest stars such as Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey.

After completing his licensing training, Yarussi and his wife chose the Rio Grande Valley as their destination where he’s been for the past seven years.

This year two of Yarussi’s players were selected to compete in Alabama where all three regions of ODP will meet to select the best players and form a team that will represent the United States.

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