Men’s soccer recruits four international players

By Brian Thomas

The NIU soccer team is used to recruiting players from the Midwest, but that didn’t stop it from recruiting four international players this year.

Two of the four players are from Oslo, Norway: senior Finn Jor and sophomore Gael Rivera.

Jor and Rivera are not the first two Norwegians to play soccer at NIU. Since the 1980s, there has been a plethora of Norwegians on NIU’s soccer team.

Huskie alumnus Johan Bergseth, who was just inducted into the NIU Hall of Fame in 2009, is a prime example of the Norwegian roots.

“Since the 1980s we have had almost 20 Norwegians play at NIU,” said Eric Luzzi, head men’s soccer coach. “Bergseth has a handle on the players in Oslo and he contacted me about Rivera. He is a huge fan of NIU and is trying to help us out.”

Huskies sophomore James Stevenson’s home is in Falkirk, Scotland.

Scotland has services that specialize in finding soccer players that want to go play in the U.S.

When schools find the players they want, the players then make a video of themselves and send it to schools in the U.S.

NIU found Stevenson in another player’s video.

“We were looking at another kid’s video, and we didn’t really like what we saw from him,” Luzzi said. “But lucky for us, we saw James, and we liked what we saw from him.”

Senior Francis Otira from London went through the same process as Stevenson did.

“A coach from back home set up a game for a bunch of kids who were looking to play in the United States,” Otira said. “He then made a video and sent it out to a bunch of schools, and I got in contact with former head coach, Steve Simmons.”

The process of being recruited from outside of the country could of been much more difficult, according to Otira.

“The coaches made the process much easier,” Otira said. “Without them, it would have been difficult, but they babied me through it and helped with all the paper work and they steered me in the right direction.”

Luzzi believes that recruiting out of the country can be easier in some ways.

“International kids don’t have preconceptions like kids from the United States about big and small school,” Luzzi said. “NIU is not a big, well-known school in the United States, and that can make it easier to recruit from outside the country.”

Luzzi is happy with the results of recruiting out of the country, and he believes it has its advantages.

“Usually international kids will come from a more structured soccer environment,” Luzzi said. “Their techniques are usually better, and they also bring more maturity with them since they are usually a year or two older than incoming freshmen.”