Mauricio Maya has been one of DUSC’s most popular — and most well-respected — coaches since he arrived back in the US five years ago. He had been a student here years earlier prior to coaching sojourns in Mexico and France. Having coached in four countries gives him a unique perspective: 

“In Colombia and Mexico you have the passion but no facilities, no money. In the US, you have money but, historically at least, little passion. In France you have passion and the facilities, so you see where that has led and the success they have had. But things are changing here in the US, at least from what I can see in New York. Everyone is watching the games on TV, there are pick-up games everywhere, the kids playing with grown-ups and you can see the kids wearing the team shirts wherever you go.”

Mauricio credits the New York parents for the sea change he is observing. “They get the kids where they need to be and they instill in them a love for the beautiful game.”

Each December, Mauricio’s  hometown, Cali has its annual Carnival celebration. He uses the holiday break to recharge his batteries with a trip back, to celebrate the Carnival, enjoy the warmth, see family and friends — and spend some time coaching young footballers from his home town. Prior to each trip, he stuffs his luggage with soccer donations from the club to distribute — shirts, shoes, balls and miscellaneous equipment. This year, a buddy and fellow ex-pat encouraged him to reach out to a different group of youngsters, kids from the inner city, “invasiones”, the Colombian version of Brazil’s favelas.

“These kids live in a very dangerous place, where people are shot and killed randomly and without reason. But when they play none of that matters; when they play they are free.”

Mauricio loved his experience coaching — and playing — this year. His only regret was not bringing more. “They don’t expect anything and when they receive something . . . you see this look in their eyes. It makes such a difference to them.”

Next year he’ll return, with his luggage even more packed. Or maybe he’ll bring some extra luggage.  Click here to donate for a future trip.  #WeAreDUSC