The East County Observer and Bogey’s Restaurant and Sports Pub have teamed up to showcase the East County’s top athletes. Each recipient’s article will be featured on the restaurant’s wall.
Lakewood Ranch junior midfielder Marco Padilla’s second-half goal in stoppage time of the Class 4A-District 10 semifinals propelled the host Mustangs to a 3-2 victory over St. Pete Lakewood, earning them a spot in the regional tournament. The 16-year-old has scored six goals so far this season — three of which came in the district tournament.
Here is an inside look at this week’s Athlete of the Week.
How did you get into soccer?
I’m from Venezuela, and it wasn’t until I was 7 years old that I started playing soccer. I used to ride horses and my trainer played soccer. I started liking it and began to play.
What is your fondest soccer memory?
I live in the present moment. I have a lot of fond memories, but right now I’m very happy. My last goal was in the semifinals, and now we’re through to regionals. This is my team right now, and I’m just trying to enjoy every second of it.
When did you move to Florida?
I moved to the United States seven years ago to Miami. Two years ago, I came to IMG Academies. I played at IMG for a year, and then I left for a year to play soccer. I just came back in May.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A professional soccer player in Europe. I always have a backup plan. I don’t have a specific career in mind yet, but I’m from a third-world country. Being from Venezuela, I’ve seen injustice. I have the opportunity to become an educated and influential person, and hopefully I can use that to help others. I think helping others is what I came here to do.
What is your favorite food?
Pelao. It’s a traditional Venezuelan dish. It’s a combination of rice and chicken in a special sauce.
Do you have any rituals that you do before games?
I always pray before leaving the house, and I get pumped up with salsa music.