When Queens coach Oliver Carias, from Guatemala, played for Queens in 2001, he was the only international player on the roster, and one of only five international student-athletes across campus.
Carias says the change from a small international presence to a big one is positive. Both the Americans and the international players benefit from experiences together, says Carias. The exposure to different cultures creates developmental opportunities for players. Although the season finished well before then, many international players ate Thanksgiving dinner with the families of their American teammates, Carias said, evidence of the lasting relationships they are building.
A multicultural team also introduces a mix of languages. While there is a policy in practices of only using English, actual matches are a little different.
While players may find it more comfortable to speak their native language in a competitive environment where they have to think quickly, Carias says, more often than not they are speaking English during games. This is a result of on-field players speaking multiple different languages, but teammates tend to speak to each other in their native languages on the sidelines and in the locker room.
Carias says his players know better than to test the referees with languages other than English. Profanity toward the officials is a yellow card, and there is always a chance a referee could know the same languages.
Queens does not specifically look to recruit international players, said Carias, “[We] look for the best fit for our culture, style of play, and for what Queens is.”
Carias says Division II soccer is a great opportunity and fit for international players. They tend to not care as much about being in a small school in a small town, as he says international players are normally just excited to be in the United States.
The level of play in Division II soccer is really good, says Carias, as many DII schools – including Queens – beat DI schools when they play each other.