Lots of college students take on unique summer jobs and internships, adding jobs to resumes and making useful contacts that will hopefully help them later in life.
Joey Chiappetta’s summer education has led him on a different path.
A rising junior on the Lipscomb men’s soccer team, Chiappetta is in Argentina training with Chacarita of the Primera B Nacional, the second tier of Argentine soccer. The junior squad, which Chiappetta plays and trains with, is in the first division.
This experience is not a new one for Chiappetta. He went to Argentina each of the last three off-season’s at Centro de Formacion de Futbolistas de Alto Rendimiento (CEFAR) in Buenos Aires.
“When I was a junior in high school, we trained at CEFAR for ten days during the summer,” Chiappetta said. “I enjoyed the place and decided to go for a month before college to prepare. I also went back last summer for six weeks.
“When I started looking at going back down this year, I learned that CEFAR had been closed down. Luckily, a man who ran my trainings there recommended me to Chacarita.”
The days in Villa Crespo, a middle-class suburb of Buenos Aires, are sometimes difficult but very enriching for Chiappetta.
“The training sessions are intense,” Chiappetta said. “We train for a couple of hours in the morning. The competition is fierce, but off the field everyone is nice. Since they might not see another American again, they are very interested in me and joke around with me a lot.”
Chiappetta continues to go back to Argentina because of the results he sees on the field and in his life.
“It changes me as an individual,” Chiappetta said. “Every time I return (to the United States), I have a desire to go back and train in Argentina.”
It’s not always easy. Language barriers and cultural differences are difficult to get over at times. Although lodging and food are provided by the club close to the training ground, Chiappetta travels with someone when venturing out into the town to avoid getting lost.
“The language is the hardest part,” Chiappetta said. “When I train, I understand how to do drills by watching first. Off the pitch, it is difficult to understand everyone but they are all so nice that it works out in the end.”
Chiappetta sees his time in Argentina as a rare opportunity to grow not only as a player but as a person.
“I think this experience helps me live and adjust to different life situations,” Chiappetta said. “Meeting different people and living in a different place is an adjustment, especially when you speak a different language.”
Although he’s now spent several summers in Argentina, Chiappetta knows it’s an experience few of his peers will get to enjoy.
“I don’t think many American players will get this chance,” Chiappetta said. “Down here, you have to be recommended before a club will take you on. I was lucky enough to have many different links that eventually led me to this club.
“I was interested in this experience from the first time I got to visit. I loved the intensity and desire from every player on the field to get better.”