Westborough Rangers feed on team diversity
WESTBOROUGH – In the 1908 play by British author Israel Zangwill, “The Melting Pot”, he calls America the “great Melting Pot where all the races of Europe merge and reform”, through the voice of the protagonist David Quixano, a Russian Jewish immigrant who arrives in America via Ellis Island to escape the pogroms that killed his mother and sister.
Over a century later, the spirit of Zangwill’s words lives on in many areas. Take the Westborough High football team. The Rangers are sort of their own melting pot, with, by their tally, 21 student-athletes who come or have direct lineage from 13 countries or regions outside of the 48 continental United States.
“Having different players from different countries and different backgrounds,” said Johann Badaoui who grew up in Lebanon for most of his life, “it’s really nice when you get to know the person, get to know your teammate because that’s who you go with who to play with throughout the season. It’s good to know that we have a team that has a different background and it’s good to show other teams and schools that it doesn’t matter. any child from any nation can play whatever sport they want. “
Countries and ethnicities represented on Westborough’s list include Brazil, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Russia, China, Indonesia, India, Philippines, Lebanon, Pakistan and Kenya on five continents.
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None of these places are known for their American football, but Westborough football coach Joe Beveridge believes the diversity of the roster is a testament to the popularity of football and an example of the diversity of the city of Westborough.
“I think it’s a great representation of the Westborough community that we have so many groups of people representing our town,” Beveridge said. “I think this is a statement about how popular football is and how attractive the sport is to everyone. We hope these guys will spread the word that football is a great team sport and a great one. way to create camaraderie with your classmates outside of the classroom and a great way to represent your community and school.
“Even though it’s not something that they traditionally played when they were younger or in their family history, if they are the first generation (immigrants) in this country, I think it is a big thumbs up to these kids for trying something different and being open to new things and working hard on something that they are not used to and doing at a high level playing games. college football. ”
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In Brazil, fútbol, or football, is king. But for Paulo Filho, American football was his vocation.
“I was born in Brazil,” Filho said. “But I was never good at soccer or basketball. When I came here in 2018, my friends told me I had to play soccer, because I was a big kid, but when I watched the football on TV, I didn’t want to play because I didn’t want to get hurt.
“When (the coronavirus) hit, I started watching football more and more and decided I had to at least try it. The first time I played with the team, I loved it because it’s like family. Just the friendships and the new opportunities, I love it … The first time I played football, I found myself. ”
If there has ever been a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic, Badaoui has discovered it. Thanks to the schedule change in the wake of COVID-19, Badaoui was able to play both soccer and soccer, as soccer was moved to the “Autumn II” corner season which took place in March and April 2021. When the time came to choose between football or football in August, Badaoui finally chose football.
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“I’m living with my uncle right now and he encouraged me to try football last spring,” Badaoui said. “When it came time to pick this year, however, he told me I should stick with football because I’m better at it.
“I was like ‘Yeah, I know, but I got more into football’, so I’m playing this year again.”
The camaraderie between teammates extends even beyond the football field.
“Johann here is learning Portuguese,” Filho said. “I’m teaching him Portuguese.
“And I’m teaching him French,” Badaoui added. “It’s things like that, teaching each other’s culture.”
It just goes to show that no matter where they come from, anyone can come together and become some kind of family.
“I think it’s a testament to the team spirit,” said Beveridge. “A testament to the children’s openness to making friends on the team even if they come from different backgrounds and to share their cultures and traditions. I think that’s really cool.”
Ethan Winter is a senior multimedia sports reporter at the Daily News. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @EWints.