–by Borja Ferraz–

Ruamrudee International School Bangkok, David Footballer

David Rochela Calvo is a professional footballer from Spain who plays central defender for the Thai Port Football Club (Port F.C.). I would like to start by thanking Port F.C. and especially its president, Nualphan Lamsam, for letting David Rochela visit RIS. I appreciate the club’s cooperation in making this event happen. As a professional football player David has played in for La Liga and Deportivo de la Coruña, the first and second top football divisions in Spain. He has also represented the Spanish National team in all U21 categories. Besides this, he has also played in Israel and Thailand. The first team he played for in Thailand was Buriram United F.C. Currently, he is a key player and the team captain of Port F.C. 

Despite being one of the most important football players in Asia, David’s best skills are not as a footballer but as a person. He is a humble man with a beautiful heart and a pure soul, and that is what I wanted our students to see—that it doesn’t matter how big of a star you are, what’s important is to stay humble and carry on growing.

It was a Sunday afternoon and I was thinking about planning the season. I had only known the girls’ JV soccer team for 3 weeks and I was not sure how to plan. I texted David and described the team’s skills and characteristics and asked him what he thought I should do with them. He replied that the most important thing was that the girls enjoy playing soccer, getting some exercise, and building friendships. That’s exactly the philosophy I like in my teams: for the students to smile, have fun, and put effort into doing their best. With that approach, they improve their skills, compete in every game, and eventually the results will come. 

David wanted to know how many days we practiced and on which days. I told him three times a week: Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. To my surprise, he asked if he could come join one of our practices. Wow! A soccer star was asking me to join one of our girls’ practices—that was huge. What made it even cooler is that I did not ask David to come and help—he offered to do it himself, just to make our students happy.

I love being a teacher. Teaching and coaching are my biggest passions, so having the opportunity to offer this experience to the students meant a lot to me because making them happy is the most rewarding feeling I can have. And thank you, David, for helping me put massive smiles on their faces—they won't forget this day for the rest of their lives. 

We agreed on all the details and got the permissions we needed from the school administration and from Port F.C., and then David came to school to join one of our practice sessions. Before the girls’ practice, he addressed the JV and Varsity boys’ teams. He spoke to the boys about the importance of being professional—both on and off the pitch, being on time to practices and games, keeping a healthy lifestyle, and communicating with their teammates. The varsity boys’ coach, Mr. Martin Ruthaivilavan, appreciated David’s visit too. He said: “I believe the team understood that it takes more, outside the training ground, to be an accomplished person. This is similar to their studies in school. Student athletes have to be disciplined to do what is best for the team and themselves.” He believes the players also took this really good advice from David to heart: “Everyone makes choices and the decisions they make can have an astounding impact on themselves and the team.” Coach Khun Prapote Unpudsa, also felt that David’s visit inspired the Varsity girls’ soccer team and made them “want to develop themselves to become better players.” He believes that David is a model for them and that they will follow his advice—as David did of other soccer players when he was young. Perhaps the best advice the students got from David was to “not give up” and to “find yourself.” David played many sports until he found his passion for soccer.

I believe our girls’ soccer teams were the ones who enjoyed his visit the most. Jeh commented that, “This visit was really special to me because I was able to meet someone professional at playing football. I enjoyed playing against the JV team and attempting to tackle Mr. David. He really encouraged me to never give up and to always try my hardest.” Varsity goalkeeper, Thetmon, said that, “This visit showed how you can do what you love with a lot of hard work and dedication. It showed all of us how, with perseverance, we can do many things and not just the common jobs shown to us. I really enjoyed how Mr. David made me perceive the occupational field differently and how down-to-earth he was, as well as how he taught us many techniques of how to shoot and defend.” Unna appreciated not only David’s soccer skills but also his personality, “David made us all feel very comfortable with his friendliness, which made it much more impactful when learning the football plays. I enjoyed learning how to shoot penalties the most because I think I improved with his advice. David also taught me how important it is to remain calm on the pitch to make better decisions and execute them better.” 

Pai, the JV girls’ captain, also commented, “I felt so privileged having the chance to meet such a charismatic soccer player. I had not met a professional player before, so this opportunity was definitely an unforgettable one. I enjoyed having Mr. David on the JV team while we were playing against the Varsity girls’ team. Thanks to Mr. David, we scored some goals that day! I also got some valuable advice from him to improve my game. He told me to try to kick my high kicks around the top part of my foot, where my shoelaces are tied, and to shoot to the corners instead of kicking the ball hard towards the goalie.” Deepikka also found David’s visit very useful, “I felt very honored because I was actually meeting a professional soccer player and that meant a lot to me. I felt like I had the opportunity to learn new techniques from a different point of view. We will try even harder because he is a role model for us and we want to follow what he did, which will then also make us successful.” 

I am particularly proud of how our players behaved and made the most of this experience. They showed excellent manners and values, and they really enjoyed the day. However, it was not only the girls who had a great time. David told me that it was a pleasure for him to work with the students because he knows what it means for the kids so he is more than happy to do it. David said he had a fantastic day and, because he is a sportsman, where he felt the most comfortable was on the pitch practicing and training with the girls. He wanted to mention that what he was impressed the most with was the values and manners shown by our students. The girls always had a big smile on their faces and were cheerful. They also showed that they are a strong group, and he loved the way they work together as a team. JV and Varsity are two teams but only one program, and he really enjoyed seeing how the girls help each other to improve on the pitch and how they have built fantastic strong friendships between them. Last, but not least, David was amazed by the school’s facilities, commenting how great it is that the kids have the opportunity to be involved in any activity you could imagine with our excellent facilities. He said that it’s great to see the kids growing up in such a safe and healthy environment. David wanted to say thank you to our school and especially to the girls, for making him feel welcome and valued. Thank you, RIS!