By: Herceny Del Cid
IRVINE, CA (July 31, 2014)- The Blues are proud to announce the re-signing of Cuban defender Erlys Garcia.
Garcia, 29, was born in Havana, Cuba to parents Edith and Tomas Garcia.
Although Cuba is known for baseball, Garcia grew up in a town where everyone played football. He began playing at the age of 10.
His professional debut was with Ciudad de la Habana in 2007, and was called up to the Cuban Mens National team in 2008.
In 2008, Erlys Garcia flew with the U-23 Cuban National Team for the 2008 Men’s Pre-Olympic Tournament that took place in the United States.
“The experience was wonderful, and I was able to enjoy playing in different countries and represent my team in Central American Games, World Cup qualifiers and Olympic qualifiers”, said Erlys about playing at a National level.
Garcia, then 23, made a decision that changed his life forever.
On March 24, 2008 the media reported the defection of of 7 players of the Cuba National team during the Pre-Olympic tournament. The Cuban National team played one game against Panama with only 11 players; without substitutions and a suspension.
The United States has a “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which is the name given to the 1995 revision of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. The act states that anyone who flees Cuba and gets into the USA would be allowed to pursue residency a year later.
Garcia was one of the players that made a decision to stay in the United States. The young soccer player left behind his wife, daughter and family in a selfless act to give his family a better life.
Soon after, Garcia kept pursuing his dreams as a professional soccer player in the USA, and was given an opportunity by Ali Mansouri on the then PDL team, Los Angeles Blues.
“My decision was super hard for me because I left my wife and daughter in Cuba, my little girl was turning two months old when I decided to stay, but football helped me a lot and I knew at any time I would have the opportunity to see them again. Today I get to enjoy my family thanks to this wonderful sport, and amazing people like Ali Mansouri”
Garcia was part of the Los Angeles Blues when the team joined USL PRO in 2011, where he played a total of 19 games. In 2012 he played a total of 23 games, and a total of 11 games in 2013.
Garcia had his 2014 debut with the OC Blues on July 19 against Arizona United SC wearing the Captain’s band.
“Elrys left Cuba in pursuit of a better life and a successful career, like many of us do when we come to the United States. Erlys leaves his heart and soul on the pitch and is someone many players can look up to with his determination and heart. I am very proud of the man he has become and very excited to have him back on the Blues,” said OC Blues Owner, Ali Mansouri.
Come support Garcia and the rest of the OC Blues FC at Anteater Stadium. There are four more games left of the 2014 season, so don’t miss out on soccer history in Orange County. Call (714)738-8011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.