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Garciasandoval was introduced to soccer as a child, by his father. He grew up playing soccer and is now a field wireman in the Corps pursuing his passion of the sport.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Alejandro Bedoya

What I've Learned: Miguelangel Garciasandoval

7 Dec 2013 | Lance Cpl. Alejandro Bedoya

Garciasandoval was introduced to soccer as a child, by his father. He grew up playing soccer and is now a field wireman in the Corps pursuing his passion of the sport.

I grew up in California and it is all I really knew for a while. It is was wine country so it was pretty unique.

I would go to Mexico every year to visit family until I joined the Marine Corps. I would always go around Christmas time and every year they had a big soccer tournament between different villages around Mexico. I would play on a team with all of the people coming from Napa Valley.

The only thing that was very different about soccer in Mexico, compared to playing in the States, are the fields. In the United States, most fields have grass or are made of artificial turf. The fields in Mexico are all dirt. You would be lucky to play on a grass field.

Growing up, I really didn’t like the sport. My dad would always buy me jerseys and soccer balls and I eventually couldn’t help but to start liking it. He was a defender and loved to play so I was also around it.

When I was young, my dad would make me play against older kids so that I would have a harder time. It was good for me because once I played against kids my age, it was a lot easier.

After a while, I stopped getting playing time with the older kids so my dad took me off their team and decided to make his own. Having my dad as my coach was a great experience in itself. He was always helping me improve before he became my coach but as soon as he made his team, it made it a lot easier to kick the ball around with him.

Any time I could spend time kicking the ball I would. I strongly believe the more you do something, the better you will become.
I can play just about any position. The only position I don’t really like playing is where my dad played, defender.

He truly played a huge part in my life. Not only because he is my dad but because he has made me the person I am today.

(Soccer) truly is a beautiful game. You don’t have to be the tallest, strongest or fastest person to play the sport. It helps bring people together. I have met many of my friends today through my different soccer experiences.

I played club soccer throughout my younger days and then played for my high school once I got old enough. My whole career was very competitive but a lot of fun.

One of my greatest memories from playing high school soccer was the last game of my senior year. We were playing our biggest rival and we were tied one to one. I scored the game-winning goal in the last couple of minutes. It is a great and almost addictive feeling when you win a game of that scale, in the last minute, in front of your team and fans.

My favorite team is Barcelona. The way they play is absolutely amazing. It is so quick and everyone seems to be on the same page, all the time. They dominate almost every team they play against. It would be a dream come true to play on their team. Even if I only got the chance to kick the ball around with them, that would be a crazy experience. Not many people can say they have met or played with the best team in the world.

When it comes to Mexican teams, my team is the Chivas. People in Mexico are very passionate when it comes to soccer and their teams. It is pretty unique to have a stadium full of people jumping up and down for 90 minutes cheering for you just because of the jersey you are wearing.

One of my friends who played on my club team in Napa Valley is actually currently playing with the Chivas. He has made it to the big leagues like all kids dream of doing.

I got a chance to go to an international game between the United States and Mexico. They are big rivals so the atmosphere was amazing. There were seas of green representing Mexico and seas of red, white and blue representing America. I like when the stadiums are split between fans because it makes it that much more intense for the players. Usually when a team is playing in another teams stadium, they are heckled all game, especially in a rivalry.

The passion behind the sport is what truly drives it. No matter where you are from, what language you speak or the color of your skin, people are united through this game. It brings a smile to my face and has opened many doors for me throughout my life. I don’t know where I would be without it. Soccer is life.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms