Local soccer player returns from ODP trip to Portugal

East soccer player Abraham Salazar earned the trip of a lifetime when he recently got the chance to play in Portugal against professional players.

As a junior, Salazar was picked for the Region III Olympic Development Program team earlier in the year, then in March, earned a spot on the ODP International Tour. He was one of just 18 people in his age division to be selected to travel and play in Lisbon, Portugal. Their trip began at the end of March and wrapped up last week.

Salazar and the ODP team played against some of the top programs in the world, including many professional players and national team players. Salazar also scored a goal against one of the D3 pro teams.

Salazar said going up against European players was an entirely different experience.

“The main thing is the skill level between the U.S. teams and the European teams,” he said. “All they do is eat, sleep and play soccer so their skill is just so much higher that you really learn a lot from the higher level of competition.”

Salazar used the opportunity to improve his own technical skills while he was there: “My speed of play, aggressiveness and probably just formation and where to be, how not to move your body and stuff like that,” Salazar said.

Not only did he expand his skill-set, but also his perspective on life.

“It makes me think that there’s a lot more places than just Victoria, so it would be nice to travel a lot more,” said Salazar.