Young soccer player goes to Spain
A section of fence in Caden Salango’s back yard is broken, a testament to the 9-year-old’s leg power when it comes to kicking soccer balls.
Caden, son of Tera and Ben Salango of Charleston’s South Hills, put his soccer prowess to good use recently as a member of a USA soccer team that competed over spring break in the Mundialito 2017 international soccer tournament in Barcelona, Spain.
A Holz Elementary School student, Caden is a member of two local soccer teams: The Sharks recreational team, and the Charleston Football Club, which is a travel team.
CFC soccer coach Adam Arthur chose Caden to be part of a USA team to compete in this year’s Mundialito soccer tournament. Soccer players from across the country comprised the USA team, said Caden’s mother, Tera Salango.
“He joined a team of kids who are from all over the United States and from Spain,” Salango said. “It’s this tournament that’s put on every year, and, each year, they pick a different country. There are teams from all over the world who come to compete.”
Caden’s USA International team played against teams from countries that included Brazil, Canada, Turkey and Africa. The competition was stiff, as youngsters from those countries spend a lot of time playing soccer.
Salango said her son and his teammates gave a good accounting of themselves in the tournament.
“He showed them that a little guy from West Virginia can hang right with them,” she said.
The competition “was really good,” Caden said, before heading to Hurricane for a game with his Sharks team.
In the Mundialito tournament, “we made it to the semi-finals,” he said.
Caden plays or practices soccer just about every day. He has a soccer net set up in his family’s driveway and often practices kicking and other soccer skills.
Caden, whose father is recently appointed Kanawha County Commission member Ben Salango, has been playing soccer for six years.
“It’s really fun, and I like competing against other teams,” he said.
Caden said his greatest strength in soccer is kicking.
“I can kick really hard, and I can do a lot of other skills.”
With the focus so much on soccer, Caden and his family didn’t have much time for sightseeing during their stay in Barcelona.
“We really didn’t get to see anything of Spain; we just played soccer the whole time,” Caden said.
Tera Salango said one of the best parts of the Spain trip was meeting other kids and their families from all over the world. The kids overcame language barriers by trading team pins and flags with each other.
“The kids were constantly trading flags -- it was really neat to see him interact with kids from all these different countries. It was awesome,” Salango said.
The teams stayed in a local hotel.
“Every morning, they would bus you to the site where the games were,” she said.
Caden’s coach in the Mundialito tournament is from Spain and spoke very little English. Nevertheless, Caden and his family bonded with him.
“We’re friends on Facebook, and we keep in touch. He’s invited Caden to come back to Spain and train with him one summer.”
Although Caden spends a lot of time on soccer, he doesn’t let it affect his school work.
“He just got into the gifted program (at Holz); he makes good grades,” Salango said.