Rodrigo Davalos: “From the moment I arrived, I felt at home.”
Rodrigo Davalos BA’08 has been playing soccer since the time he could walk. Growing up in Latin America, he had lots of opportunity to excel at the game, and was playing pre-professional soccer in Guadalajara, Mexico by the time he was 14.
Things changed, however, when Rodrigo’s family immigrated to Canada. He was 17 years old and although he tried to play soccer in Calgary where his family settled, he felt disappointed by the emphasis on strength, rather than technique. He decided to transition his kicking skills to the game of football. “It took me about two years to fully understand all the rules, but once I started getting into it, I really enjoyed it.”
A sought-after kicker, Rodrigo played for Calgary with the CJFL (Canadian Junior Football League), and in 2003, was recruited by Saint Mary’s. He arrived when the Huskies were on fire; the team had won the Vanier Cup the year before and were at the top of their game. In his first season, Rodrigo also had the opportunity to play in the Vanier Cup finals.
“I was welcomed” This sense of joy and exhilaration wasn’t restricted to the football field. Rodrigo refers to his time at SMU as one of the best experiences of his life. “From the first moment I arrived in Halifax, I felt at home,” he says. “I was welcomed, not only by the University and professors, but by the team, the coaches, the players, and by the city of Halifax itself.”
International Development was his course of study and it couldn’t have been a better fit for what would become his career. “It broadened my mind and made me realize all that the world had to offer,” he says. “I learned to value differences in people.” This inner growth immediately translated into the halls of the school and onto the football field where he met people from many different cultures. Many deep friendships were forged.
But Rodrigo never forgot about his love of soccer. Fast forward a decade and he is currently building a business as an International Soccer Promoter, offering experiences in South America to talented, young Canadians. “I want to give them a chance to learn the finesse and technique of the best soccer players in the world.”
A bridge between Latin America and Canada Rodrigo recently had the privilege of helping a few young soccer players from Nova Scotia travel to the Youth World Cup in Bolivia. “They got a chance to play with a professional Mexican team and experience 30,000 people in a stadium, as opposed to a handful of family and friends watching their games back home.”
Rodrigo is also making connections with universities in California and with the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). He aims to stir up scholarships for Canadian soccer players who have what American schools are looking for—soccer skill combined with good academics and a positive attitude.
Excited by the chance to offer Canadian youth these kinds of life-altering opportunities is what drives Rodrigo forward. “I feel like I can be a bridge between Latin America and Canada, offering youth a chance to enhance their skills and have valuable cultural experiences too,” he says. “My ultimate goal is to help more kids achieve their dream of becoming professional soccer players.”