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Fernandes smiles, complicates game for opponents

Monday, October 1, 2007  
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By Chad Hartwell

Oklahoma Christian University soccer player Cristian Fernandes tries to keep from complicating things. Try telling that to any of his opponents last year on the soccer pitch.

As a freshman in 2006, Fernandes played his way to Sooner Athletic Conference Newcomer of the Year, the All-SAC second team and the NAIA All-Tournament first team. His ability to complicate an opponent’s game plan only makes the game easier for the rest of the Eagles.

“He is a great player who cares about his team,” teammate Brad Bates said. “He makes everything easier for the other players on the field with his great ball skill and ability to see the game as it is happening.”

Off the field, the sophomore from Maringa, Brazil tries to keep life simple by spending time with his family and girlfriend.

“They are simple things but necessary things that make me feel good and happy,” Fernandes said. “Life is simple. We complicate things too much.”

Fernandes came to the United States for the opportunity to continue playing soccer while receiving an education. Former Eagle forward, and fellow Brazilian, Ivan Coco helped Fernandes find a place at Oklahoma Christian.

“I was playing in Brazil, and I decided to send my highlight to another country so I sent it to Italy, Japan, and the United States,” Fernandes said. “My friend, Ivan Junior, who lives here, helped me talk to the coach. We start talking, and here I am.”

Fernandes started playing soccer when he was seven years old. He realized he wanted to play soccer after watching his father play. Being away from his family has been the hardest part of attending a university in the United States.

“My family is everything for me, and God, of course,” Fernandes said.

He has also found that things vary greatly between Brazil and the United States.

“They are worlds completely different,” Fernandes said. “Here the most interesting thing is that if you are good in something the people give you premiums or status. On the other hand, in Brazil, you are just one more among thousands.”

In his freshman season, Fernandes scored five goals and served up eight assists.

“I am very happy and proud,” Fernandes said. “It is just my commitment to work hard every practice and game. I just do whatever I have to. Playing soccer is just having fun for me. I love this game.”

More than just his on-field abilities, Fernandes brings a quality attitude to the field every day for the Eagles.

“He comes to practice every day with a smile on his face, happy to be out there playing with his friends,” Bates said. “He genuinely cares about every player on the team like they were his own brother.”

With a team leading three goals and seven points so far this season, Fernandes has picked up where he left off last year.

“I can see him as an instrumental part of our team as a leader helping guide us to a conference championship and a bid to nationals,” Bates said. “He is one of the top players in our conference.”

Fernandes currently majors in business but is not yet sure what he wants to do for a career. He does know that he wants to continue playing soccer.

“My plans are to be professional and get on a national team in the United States, or Brazil, or even another country,” Fernandes said. “I think I can get it. I just need to practice hard day by day.”

With the future uncertain, and a busy schedule, Fernandes continues to keep things simple.


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