Billions of people around the world, and Latinos in Pittsburgh, are excited about the FIFA World Cup 2022 now taking place in Doha, Qatar. Presente wants to join in the excitement by featuring two latino currently playing fútbol with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds!
Dani Rovira and Angelo Kelly-Rosales both grew up playing soccer.
Rovira, who hails from Bogota, Colombia, and Kelly-Rosales, from Honduras, recalled the sport as an exercise in discipline and team building, a way to communicate through language barriers, and above all, a way to bring communities together over one common love.
“For me, soccer is obviously more than a sport. It teaches you discipline; it teaches you a lot. And my dad always loved soccer and played soccer, so I was always kicking a ball around with him and my brothers and I grew to love it more and more in that way,” Rovira said.
“The best way that I can describe soccer is as a culture; as a lifestyle. It means a lot to people.” Kelly Rosales added.
Rovira first came to the United States from Colombia at the age of 17. He attended a junior college in Boston, Massachusetts, before heading to the University of Vermont, where he spent two years playing on the school’s NCAA Division 1 soccer team.
The transition to living in the United States was different from that of Rovira’s upbringing in Colombia, but he wasn’t phased. The community that he was surrounded by helped make his move both memorable and fun. “It was hard, but I’m very thankful that the people I was around were very helpful and they made it fun,” Rovira said.
During his time in Vermont, Rovira was scouted on the professional radar, and in February of 2019, he was given the chance to try out for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
“When I first came from Colombia, I never thought I would end up in Vermont. I had never heard of it. So I thought, ‘why not Pittsburgh?’,” Rovira said, recalling his decision to try out for the team.
After two exciting weeks in Pittsburgh for tryouts, Rovira signed with the Riverhounds in 2019. This season will mark his fourth year with the team. Now 25 years old, Rovira has played a number of positions with the team, but he is most grateful just to be with the team and the comradery that he has found.
“At the end of the day, my goal is the team’s goal: we want to win. I’m thankful that I get to help the team.”
When asked if he was looking forward to anything in particular this year, Rovira noted that he likes to live in the moment.
“I like to live in the moment and I’m focused on this year. We want to be successful and we want to bring a championship to Pittsburgh. Coming to a game and seeing the stadium full and everyone supporting us has been such a fun process that being able to bring a championship here would be even better,” he said.
Kelly-Rosales shares a similar story to that of Rovira. Now 29, Kelly-Rosales came to the United States from Honduras around age 12. He went to college at William Penn University for sports administration but after graduating he went on to play professional soccer for a team in South Carolina. Just a few years later, he was given another opportunity: to play with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
He’s been a part of the Riverhounds team for just over 4 months now, and despite the new environment, he’s already feeling at home.
“The way I got into soccer, long story short, was that I was born in a Latin country. I fell in love with the sport at a young age and I’ve been playing since I can remember,” he said, speaking on his life-long love for the sport.
Although now he has a fruitful career in the professional soccer world, Kelly-Rosales remembers the years when soccer wasn’t always in the picture.
“When I made the transition to [living in] the United States, soccer was never in the picture,” he said. He also noted that he wasn’t willing to give up on the sport though either.
“I wasn’t willing to let [a career in soccer] go, so I traveled around and played summer seasons here and there. I went to Mississippi and had a good summer season there and then I got the chance to go try out in Charleston, South Carolina in 2017, and from there the journey began!”
The journey, as Kelly-Rosales calls it, has taken him all over the country. From his start in Mississippi, to his career in South Carolina, and now the opportunity to play here in Pittsburgh, Kelly-Rosales is most grateful for the opportunities he’s gotten and the connections he’s made.
“I don’t like to think about the future too much, I kind of live day by day, and I’d like to enjoy that as much as possible here. The best part of playing professional soccer is that you get to meet people and you get to travel. You get to play something you love for a living, you get to meet wonderful people and make a connection,” Kelly-Rosales said. “Whether or not there’s cultural differences, we all get together for one common goal, soccer. At the end of the day it’s about the pleasure of traveling and the wonderful people [and communities] you meet along the way.”
Presente would like to say a huge thank you to Dani Rovira and Angelo Kelly-Rosales, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Matt Grubba, and all those who have helped to make this possible. Best of luck to the Riverhounds in the upcoming season!