Three years ago, Mark Costa couldn’t make the local Saltfleet soccer team. Today he is living the dream today, having signed a professional contract with Santa Clara of Portugal.
His success is testament to desire, hard work and the faith of a special soccer coach, says his dad.
“Mark started playing soccer when he was five and was at the top of the field by age 14, but then he suffered a pinched nerve in his back and couldn’t play for two years,” says Paul Costa. “During that time he sat in the house playing video games and eating junk food and gained 50 pounds.”
Three years ago, after the pinched nerve was fixed, he was back on the field, but woefully out of shape. Then he was scouted by UEFA coach Leo Charalampis, a Greek coach trained in Germany who moved to Hamilton nine years ago. Leo saw what others had missed.
“Mark had a natural god-given talent for soccer hidden behind 50 pounds of fat,” recalls Charalampis. “He has the natural balance between his mind and his body that separates the great players from the average. He just needed training.”
Charalampis says his training program is tough and most players quit after three weeks. Some never come back after the first session, he says. He put Costa on a strict diet and exercise regimen and over the next six months the young player dropped from 192 pounds to 163 and regained his belief in himself.
Costa, a St. Jean de Brebeuf graduate is the second professional player from Hamilton to graduate from Charalampis’s training program to a pro career in Europe. His next prospect, Victoria Garcia, will be going to Mexico later this month for a tryout with the Mexican national women’s team.
Charalampis is starting a team boys born in 1997 or later who want a professional soccer career. Call Lee Fairbanks at 905-627-2580 for more information.