The Paper photo by John Groth

Wabash College incoming sophomore soccer players Ian Kelly (with ball) and Mike Hegeman will go to Argentina with the Little Giants next week.

The Paper photo by John Groth

Wabash College incoming sophomore soccer players Ian Kelly (with ball) and Mike Hegeman will go to Argentina with the Little Giants next week.

Roberto Giannini found a unique way to kick home his message.

Wabash College’s soccer coach has long believed that soccer and culture are intertwined.

An Italy native, Giannini has experienced the link first-hand – having traveled to nearly half a dozen foreign countries and bringing back new ideas – about style of play, teamwork and lifestyle – to the Little Giants’ program.

Now, his entire team will have the chance to travel to an international country together.

They’ll head to Argentina next week for a week-and-a-half-long soccer and cultural excursion.

"I want them to realize how people live . . . that the food is different and just the language – to be somewhere and be a complete foreigner but completely enjoy it," said Giannini, who will make his first trip to Argentina. "I wanted the guys to experience something they never have. Obviously, this is a very good thing and playing soccer is the cherry on the cake."

Next week, 20 Wabash College soccer members and coaches will travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina for a 10-day, 11-night trip abroad to Argentina.

They will leave Aug. 4 and return Aug. 16.

While there, they’ll take on some of the top teams in the South American area and experience soccer at a whole new level.

Wabash will play three games – one each against Boca Juniors reserve team, Independiente and Estudiantes.

Giannini has also planned for players to see the a professional league game at world-famous Bombonera Stadium (nicknamed "The Chocolate Box") – a 120,000-seat stadium located in the Boca district of Buenos Aires and home of the Boca Juniors team.

They’ll tour Argentina and even travel to Uruguay and visit a beach resort.

It’s set up so they’ll have one day of sightseeing, one day of practice and then one game.

But it’s all done to give the Little Giants a chance to discover the international side of soccer and life outside the U.S.

For Giannini, the trip has taken three years to put together.

He started planning right after he was hired at Wabash.

Under NCAA rules, athletes can visit foreign countries once every four years.

Giannini knew of other soccer programs from the state (Anderson University, Hanover College and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) and throughout the Unites States (Indiana University, Michigan State University, Southern Methodist University and Creighton University) which had traveled to places like Spain, Italy and England.

Being from Italy, Giannini wanted Wabash players to experience soccer from a different perspective.

His friend, Roberto Lopez, is a United States Soccer Federation staff coach and involved with the members of the U.S. National coaching staff.

So he talked to Lopez, who gave him some ideas and helped set the trip up.

It’s self-funded, with players and coaches having to each raise $3,000 to go.

They’ll stay in a three-

star hotel, have three meals a day, laundry and a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week interpreter available to them.

For players like David Rosborough and Andrew Pearcy, this trip will give them a better understanding of soccer.

Rosborough has traveled throughout the world.

He just returned this May from his five-month study abroad stay in Italy and has also been to Australia, Europe, Mexico, Africa and Hawaii.

But this will be the incoming senior’s first time to South America.

He’s already anxious to see what the different culture will be like and how it helps shape the Little Giants as a team.

"Traveling as a team right off the bat will add to a sense of camaraderie right off the bat. It will enhance our experience together," said Rosborough, a defenseman from Loveland, Ohio. "We’ll get to see how [other players and teams] train, see how the other coaches train and play in a different environment."

Rosborough has already learned experienced the soccer environment in Italy.

While there, he saw an AC Milan soccer match and played in 8-on-8 games.

That’s also when Rosborough realized foreign coaches are harsher than in the United States.

"In the U.S., soccer players are sheltered. We’re always given a pat on the back or told ‘get them next time.’ In Italy, they yell at you. They get up in your face and say you need to play quicker. They scold you for mistakes until you start to get it right," Rosborough said. "It’s not all bad things. They want you to assume responsibility for your errors. They don’t want you to let the team down."

Pearcy agreed.

An incoming sophomore, he’s already traveled to South America once before – going to Brazil with his U-14 Arsenal FC team six years ago.

He said he learned more in two weeks there than he while working for his club team for two months.

A midfielder, Pearcy played three or four makeshift soccer games in Brazil – playing on soccer fields on top of buildings or on basketball courts which had the rims on hoops pulled down and tape on fences used for goals.

"It’s a totally different culture there than it is here. I’m excited to be able to experience this with all the guys here and my teammates. I think it will help bond us and work our skills," said Pearcy, a Ben Davis high school graduate. "I hope to learn more about moving the ball more smoothly and transitioning better. South American teams are so quick and so smooth how they move the ball."