Courtesy: South Bend TribuneBruno DeJesus helps introduce futsal to Elkhart CountyDeJesus introduces obscure sport to area
by Steve KrahJan 29, 2017
ELKHART — Growing up in soccer-crazy Brazil, Bruno DeJesus was immersed in the game.
As a teenager, he came to the U.S. as an exchange student at Elkhart Central High School in 1994-95 and was recruited to play soccer at Bethel College.
More than two decades later he is sharing his passion with youngsters in Elkhart County, teaching not only athletic, but life lessons along the way.
In 2011, DeJesus established Sports With A Purpose (SWAP) — an organization that pairs the motor skills learned in the sport futsal with lessons on concepts including sacrifice, work ethic, selfless leadership, responsibility and contentment.
Futsal is an indoor game akin to soccer that is played by many of the best soccer players in the world, including Brazil’s Neymar, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi.
“We wanted to start a program that offered excellence in soccer with some values,” said DeJesus, whose day job is chief financial officer at Heritage Financial Group in Elkhart. “We kind of stand on a three-legged stool of discipline, excellence and integrity. Everything that we do comes from these three things.
“We’re pretty disciplined in our training,” he continued. “As for excellence, God expects nothing less than our best in any area of our life. Integrity means we are going to do the right thing even if it hurts or makes us lose a game or whatever.”
DeJesus learned the importance of discipline in his own life, knowing that no one would be making him do his homework when he was in high school.
“I like to read and I’ve read that discipline is more important than IQ if you want to get into college,” said DeJesus, who is married to former Bethel volleyball player Lisa.
With the recent addition of two Brazilians — 2016 Bethel graduate Pedro Amaral and Bethel senior Helton Moura — DeJesus has been able to more than double the size of his futsal academy to almost 100 boys and girls. Young players (ages 10-12 for boys and 9-11 for girls) meet Tuesdays at Mary Beck Elementary and Thursdays at Hawthorne Elementary with high schoolers Wednesdays at Concord High School and even more futsal players at Jefferson Elementary and Waterford Elementary near Goshen.
SWAP players are competitive — they have at least one team going for nationals in Overland Park, Kan., in February — but they are not a win-at-all-costs outfit.
Our club is known for boys who are nice,” DeJesus said. “When the game is on, they go at it. If there’s a foul during the game, they extend a hand and pick them up. There’s no nastiness.”
Futsal is a 5-on-5 (four attackers/defenders plus a goalkeeper) contest and players are expected to play offense and defense and get far more touches of the ball than the outdoor game played with 11 to a side.
“They develop the quick thinking,” said DeJesus, who coaches with the Goshen Stars during the outdoor soccer season. “They learn to pass and move instead of pass and stand, which is very common in outdoor soccer.
“In futsal, you’re touching the ball all the time so the kids become really comfortable with the ball.”
DeJesus, who has three sons who play, notes that futsal is a sport in its own right. There’s a world championship. The way to grow it in the United States is to market it as a tool to help outdoor soccer.
“I would hope that more clubs in the area would see the value of implementing futsal into their development process,” DeJesus said. “The higher levels in the U.S. are starting to see that futsal is the secret sauce.”
Posted by Luca Ranocchiari