FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Soccer can be said to unify countries across the globe. And the global influence of the University of Saint Francis Men’s Soccer team expands continents. Despite cultural differences, soccer remains a universal language.

“It really brings people together. It’s really unity. At the end of the day, I feel like it really brings us together and creates more of a sense of family,” said Daniel Vaides, a senior soccer player at USF from Fort Wayne and Guatemala.

It’s evident by the number of international student-athletes represented on the USF men’s soccer team, 20 in total.

20 countries are represented on the team

“It brings all people together, as any sport. It raises feelings, it raises passion and it connects people one way or another,” said Alessandro Florencia, a sophomore from Ecuador.

Over half of the international student-athletes come from a Hispanic country.

“It’s a language within itself. I think people with different accents like, we have some Spaniards, we have some people from Peru, Ecuador. I’m luckily from Guatemala, you know I can say that proudly, but it doesn’t matter what accent we speak. You know, as long as we can move the ball together, you know like I said at the beginning, we’re still family on and off the pitch. It doesn’t matter,” said Vaides.

On the pitch, or field, the different cultures combined enhance the team’s skills.

“It’s nice because they always have a different point of view about the sport. And you get to learn from every single person from every single country cause they have a different idea that might not be better, might not be worse, it’s just different,” said Enrique Subiran, a junior from Spain.

Pato Carmona, a freshman from Mexico, echoes that thought, “I’ve been playing the same sport pretty much all my life, like a certain way. And coming here and just seeing how everyone somehow manages to play different but the same sport it’s really fun and interesting.”

One word became a common theme for the players we spoke with: passion. A passion for the game exceeds cultural boundaries.

“We all share the same passion…It’s just natural. it’s not because we are part of a team. It’s because we all love to talk about soccer and it’s something we talk about every day,” said Nahuel Suarez, a junior from Argentina.

Soccer also means an opportunity to further their education, athleticism, and happiness.

“It’s a way to, you could say, escape reality. You know, sometimes in Mexico, it’s pretty tough, the culture, the political state, it’s not that easy, so soccer is just a way to enjoy life,” said Carmona.

“It’s what I was dreaming when I was a kid to be in a big stadium with a lot of people, cheering on us. And also, being able to play here and be able to study here, get a degree, it’s also really nice for my life and it feels really good,” said Subiran.

See more stories like this during WANE 15’s special: Hispanic Heritage on Saturday, September 17. The special airs at 7:30 p.m.