By Kathy Chouteau
Richmond soccer player Yeison Sontay has been selected as U.S. Bank’s “Inspirational Athlete” of the week.
The senior center back, who attends International Academy at Richmond High, came to the U.S. with his mother from Guatemala four years ago in search of a better life, according to a video report by 49ers Cal-Hi Sports.
The video report noted that Sontay is “a rock in the back from Richmond, his play a big part of the team’s success.” His soccer team is currently competing in the NCS playoffs.
Sontay, who only speaks Spanish but is working diligently to learn English, said “it’s been hard for me because I was used to only one language of my country” and that it’s been difficult to adapt to a new culture and language in a new country.
His soccer coach Rene Silas said that Sontay has brought confidence to the team with his skills, but reiterated that his player’s greatest challenge has been overcoming the obstacle of integrating into the new culture.
But Sontay’s never-give-up attitude on the soccer field has served him well as he adapts to the U.S., as he told 49ers Cal-Hi Sports that he’s making great strides understanding English better and is succeeding in school. He has also been accepted at two California state universities and told 49ers Cal-Hi Sports that his goal is to attend a four year university and to “help his mother and his family.”
When Sontay came to the U.S. with his mother—a single parent who works a minimum wage job—they left some of his older siblings behind in Guatemala. His mother, who was not identified by name in the video report, expressed that she is proud of her son.
Although it’s been a challenging transition coming to a new country, Sontay said he is happy he came to America because “I have better opportunities here.” He added that he is “living a life with better experiences.”