Vikes alum goes pro with Trinidad and Tobago’s top club

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By Kira Starr, Vikes Communications

May 29, 2013, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Following a captivating Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national championship win on home soil, University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer player Miguel Romeo (Buenos Aires, Argentina) took his career to the Caribbean.

The fifth-year finale was just the beginning, as the 26-year-old continued his passion for soccer when he officially joined the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League team, the Caledonia A.I.A., on Jan. 15, 2013 for a one-year contract.

Romeo’s entry into the league was far from conventional. While on holidays with his family, Romeo had to contact his room mate in Victoria to send his soccer boots and passport in order to fly to Malabar, Trinidad and Tobago as soon as possible.

“A day later I was on trial with the [team] from January 10-15 and on the 15th I signed the contract with my agent Narada Wilson and the Club’s directors,” described Romeo on his first professional experience.

Romeo, originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina moved to Calgary for his high school education. His ability to play soccer year-round in British Columbia solidified his decision to move west for his post-secondary education. Romeo played for the VIkes men’s soccer team from 2006-2012 under legendary head coach Bruce Wilson. Romeo was among seven fifth-year players who took a one-year break during the 2010-11 season, knowing the CIS national championship was coming to Victoria’s Centennial Stadium in November 2011. The seven seniors helped UVic capture their fifth-overall Sam Davidson Memorial trophy.

“The best moment as a Vike, without a doubt, [was] winning the national championship. A few senior players, including myself, spoke to Chief [Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson] about taking the year before off to be able to play in…such a special occasion and opportunity. As everybody knows, national championships don’t come around often and there was nothing better than to win it in my graduating year in front of family and friends.”

Throughout his soccer career, Wilson has been a major influence and mentor for Romeo. Wilson’s personal experiences as a player and coach provided generations of Vikes with top-class lessons and skill training – all of which have developed Romeo into the player he is today.

“After all, Bruce captained Canada in the only World Cup they advanced to and had played with the great Pele,” admired Romeo. “Experiences like that and the mentoring he does for players with his knowledge are something we all want to achieve one day for ourselves”

Former Vikes men’s assistant coach Nico Craveiro has also played an important role in the development of Romeo as a Vike.

As it is for most athletes, every part of the journey is a stepping stone towards a destination. Fortunately for Romeo, every decision, from leaving Calgary to playing for the Vikes instead of Simon Fraser University, has led Romeo to his dream.

Caledonia A.I.A played 21 regular season games in the TT Pro League this year. Caledonia finished second in the league behind rivals Defence Force to earn a qualification spot in the CONCACAF Champions League, the most prestigious club competition in North America. The team also won the FA Trophy, a very celebrated cup competition affiliated with all soccer clubs in the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation.

Within days of signing with Caledonia, Romeo was named to the 18-man squad to dress for the weekend games. Although he was not given playing time in the first game, Romeo will never forget the energy on the bench and his first experience with his new team. With his adrenaline flowing, Romeo was substituted in the following day for his first showing as a Caledonia member. His substitution came at a very pivotal moment in the game. Romeo helped lead the midfield to come from behind and win a very crucial game.

With his first month behind him, Romeo quickly evolved to become a critical contributor on the pitch and helped his teammates won the FA Trophy.

“Playing the full 90 minutes and lifting the trophy after the game felt surreal” says Romeo. With such a big accomplishment in such a short time period, he hopes for bigger and better things to come.

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Living in the Caribbean and playing professional soccer has been a dream come true for Romeo but he is quick to add that the professional lifestyle is not as easy as everyone may think. As he settles in with his new life, Romeo believes that the sacrifices to leave his family and adapt to the cultural differences is worth every moment. With his aspirations set high, Romeo hopes one day he will end up with a career in Europe. For now, the Vikes grad focuses on delivering top-level performances every time he steps out onto the field.

Follow Caledonia A.I.A in the CONCACAF Champions League at http://www.concacafchampions.com/page/CL/TeamProfileDetail/0,,12856~1102580,00.html

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