The Players Who Paved The Way - Part Three

This is the Third Installment of "The Players Who Paved The Way." We look back at some of the great players who wore the SSFAC shirt as the team established itself in the Peninsula Soccer League. In this episode we bring you the story of the "High Flyin Brazilian", Fabio Marques who became the the teams all time leader in goals scored and assists. Click Here For Story

With the 2006 season about to take shape in the very competitive Peninsula Soccer League, SSFAC was looking to add some offensive punch to the roster. The team had just completed a very successful 2005 season which saw them win 11 games, but they fell just 2 points short in the standings to Division winner, Peninsula Social Club. The teams leading scorer, Ed Hill was moving away, and there were numerous other changes that would make the 2006 season a real challenge for South City. One of the new faces to join the club was Fabio Marques, a talented player who had moved from Sao Paulo Brazil to the United States just the year before. Although the 2006 season was a modest one for Fabio, who recorded 3 assists, he began to adapt to the style of play of his teammates and one could sense that something special might be coming down the road. It turned out to be more than just something was exciting, unpredictable, magical, fun, and very entertaining. The team had found its new offensive threat, and he certainly delivered.

The next few seasons proved to be tough ones as the team tried to find its way to the top of the Premier standings. There were numerous roster changes and some inconsistent play along the ways, but South City continued to work on improving their game. Finally in 2009, the team began to reap the benefits of having Fabio integrated into the lineup. He scored 13 goals and added 8 assists and things were about to change in a big way. During the 4 year span that ran from 2009 to 2012, Fabio established himself as the teams main offensive threat as he totaled 35 goals and 32 assists to pave the way for SSFAC's promotion into the Majors Division of the PSL. After a long pursuit, South City finally found its way to the top division of the league, and the High Flyin Brazilian was a major contributor to that success.

Recently, we were able to finally get Fabio to talk about his playing days here in the Bay Area, along with youth and adult soccer back home, and his best memories from an amazing career with SSFAC that spanned 11 years:  

Q:  At what age did you first begin playing soccer?
A:  I started playing in Brazil at age 5.....I have a clear memory of the first futsal tournament I played when I was only 6 years old. I was not on the starting team, but came in the 2nd half and scored the winning goal (2-1), although I had no idea of the importance of that goal...we ended up champions of the tournament!
Q:  What opportunities where in place for you to play when living in Sao Paulo as a young child?
A:  Several opportunities. I started playing for the school team (1st grade) and then played throughout elementary, middle, and high school. I was also on a seperate team organized by parents/teachers called "Leoes do Arqui" (Arquidiocesano was the mane of the school in Sao Paulo, Brazil) and we used to play many tournaments including domestic and international ones. Then I played for my Engineering College team (Escola Politecnica de Sao Paulo) as well as the University team (University of Sao Paulo - USP). We were champions twice of the USP league and 2nd place twice on FUPE (Sao Paulo University Sports Federation) from 1994 to 2000.
Q:  Did you play any other sports as a child?
A:  Absolutely. I played every single sport I could (e.g. Futsal, Athletics, Swimming, Handebol, Volleyball, etc.)
Q;  When did you realize that soccer would be the sport you would stick with?
A:  In a country like Brazil, with such an incredible history on football and so many fantastic players and teams, it is impossible not to fall in love with the game....although I played many other sports, football was always number #1
Q:  Your best memory from youth soccer days?
A:  It was indeed when we won our first USP Championship. I scored the last PK against Medicine College (our rival) in the semi-final and assisted our only goal (1-0) against Law School College in the Final
Q:  When did your family move to the United States ?
A:  We moved to the US in 2005. I joined SSFAC the following year in 2006
Q:  Was it difficult to adapt to the changes you faced when coming to the US?
A:  Absolutely. Although we quickly adapted to the work environment, missing family and friends was always the toughest part of moving to a different country. From a football perspective, it was great to find very competitive leagues in the Bay Area, but it was difficult to miss the great friends/players with whom I played with in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Q:  How did you become involved in playing adult soccer here?
A:  I immediately searched for football leagues in the Bay Area when we moved in 2005 and joined a team ("Chieftans F.C.") in SFSFL ( San Francisco Soccer Football League) from March to September as well as another team ("SSFAC") in the PSL (Peninsula Soccer League) from September to March. I then took over the Chieftans F.C. in 2007 and created the Real Sao Paulo F.C. playing for almost 10 years and getting promoted three times from 2nd division to Premier. Also assisted getting SSFAC promoted twice in the PSL from 1st division to Premier and then to Majors. Recently, I signed my Real Sao Paulo F.C. team to the San Francisco Over 35 league and we won it in 2017, 2nd place in 2018 (lost in PK's) and won it again in 2019 ! Looking forward to the 2021 season !
Q:  When and how did you wind up playing with SSFAC?
A:  I was looking for a team to play from September to March, when it was off-season in the SFSFL, and I joined a tryout with coaches Mike Pizzo and daniele Capoferri in Jul/Aug 2006. I guess I mad a good impression...wink
Q:  Teammates that stood out over the years?
A:  Daniele Capoferri (GK) was certainly the best teammate I ever had during the 10 seasons I played. One of the best GKs I have seen play and played with. It was amazing to have also played with guys like Blair Smith, Bobby Quinlan, Gareth Lea, Roberto Miranda, Matteo Lupini, Martin Wright, Gerry Whitcomb, Tore Svanberg and Jay Griffin. So many stories on and off the field !
Q:  Is there one game that leaves you with a special memory?
A:  Not specifically one game, but I always loved to play games against our usual rivals (Santa Clara Sporting, Club Maritimo, Rovers FC etc.) I remember one game (not sure against which team) when we were winning by 7 or 8 goals to zero in the first half and Coach Mike asked us to take it easy and take the foot off the gas during halftime....that was the first time it ever happened and it was difficult to not score more goals...
Q:  Name one team you enjoyed playing against the most and why?
A:  Santa Clara Sporting. Certainly the best team in the league for many yeras. Although we never managed to beat them while I layed, it was always nice to score against them at least one goal.

Q:  Your best moment and most forgettable moment while playing for SSFAC?
A:  Best moment was certainly when I took over the leadership for most goals/assists. It made me feel special and achieving such an accomplishment with players since 1987 was more than I could ask for. The most forgettable moment was certainly when I was released from the team without a talk or much of a notice. Coach Scott had just taken the team over from Mike and maybe because he didn't have much coaching experience at this level or couldn't relate to me, especially with respect to my history with the team, was disappointing. I would have at least hoped for a conversation or some interaction between us to validate his position, but that didn't happen, and I found that rude and not what I expected.
Q:  Looking back at your playing days, how would you characterize your experience playing with SSFAC?
A:  I always cared a lot for the team and Coach Mike. I helped with taking the team from the 1st division all the way to the top Majors division. While I played, I was always very respected and considered by Mike and by my teammates. It made me feel special and more motivated to do more for the team.
Q: You were selected as one of the teams all time best eleven. Can you name one player you feel was the best you played with?
A: Daniele Capoferri (GK) was certainly the best teammate I ever had during the 10 seasons I played. He is one of the best GKS I have seen play and played with.
Q:  You have become the teams all time leader in goals scored, assists, and point total. Quite the accomplishment, what does that mean to you?
A:  It made me feel very special and always more motivated to do more for the team. The kind of memory I won't ever forget and will always tell my kids and hopefully grandkids one day.
Q:  What advice would you give to today's players?
A:  Respect and learn how to compensate for your teammates and, sometimes, "coaches" weaknesses. In amateur teams, players (and "coaches") will always have different strengths but also weaknesses. The champion teams are the ones who learn to compensate for each others' weaknesses and take advantage of each others' strengths instead of blaming and complaining. For new players joining the team, learn to respect the old timers... they have a lot to teach and they are always happy to see new talent ready to be improved
                                           SSFAC 2012-13,   2nd Place PSL Premier Division
Front Row L to R,  Luis De Paz,  Dilian Donev,  Omar Nawabi,  Leandro Monteiro,  Fabio Marques,  Blair Smith, Hany Helmy,  Back Row L to R,  Abner Ramos,  Paul Pavich,  Scott Ellis,  Bobby Quinlan,  Gareth Lea,  Damian Hites,  Coach Daniele,  Coach Mike 
Q:  Your favorite pro team, and player you loved to watch?
A:  I am a fan of Sao Paulo F.C. from Brazil (Three times World Club Champions..against Barcelona 1992, Milan 1993, and Liverpool 2005) and the Brazil National Team ( the only 5 time World Cup Champions) I grew up loving to watch Pele, Maradona, Zico, and eventually Ronaldo (Brazilian), Romario, Ronaldinho, and Rivaldo. Nowadays, I like to watch Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and Mbappe.
Q:  Did the game of soccer open opportunities for you that you didn't expect and how has it helped you in your adult life?
A:  Absolutely. Although I am a Electrical Engineer and have always made my living working for tech companies, being part of football teams and even owning my own team always gave the opportunity to meet a lot of people and eventually become best friends with some of them. These firendships, in turn, always helped me professionally and personally and this is something anyone can always be thankful for.
Q:  What lies ahead for you as it relates to soccer?
A:  Recently, I signed my Real Sao Paulo F.C. team to the San Francisco Over 35 league and we won it in 2017, 2nd place in 2018 (lostin PK's) and won it again in 2019!...I am looking forward to the 2021 season, I am also following up closely my 2 kids (Rafeal - 9 years old and Gabriela - 7 years old) who joined the Palo Alto Soccer Club and have been developing their skills and playing leagues and tournaments already.
Q:  You've had many roles in soccer...player, coach, team manager, what did you like the best and what would you do differently given the chance?
A:  My passion was always about playing. I am still playing at 45 years old in the Over 35 league...with the help of God, I hope to play Over 50, Over 60, and only stop if/when I cannot walk anymore....I would have taken better care of my shape and weight in order to accomplish even better performance and results. It was always difficult given the amount of workhours in tech industry. I was very glad I could at least count on the 2-3 practices/games sessions per week with the exercises administered by Capo and Jay.
Q:  Anything you would like to say to the current and future players for SSFAC?
A:  I believe you have everything to win the Majors Division one day. I hope I am at least invited for the celebration party when it happens ! I will also be happy when someone passes me on the Individual Player Ranking (NOOOOOT.....ahahahahah)
Q:  Finally, what is your favorite takeaway from your playing days with the team, and the one thing you will always look back on that leaves you with a smile?
A:  The way I was treated and respected by Coach Mike over all those years. It was tough and sad to see him unfortuantely having to leave the team, but while he was the Coach, I really admired his passion, dedication and love with which he helped us become not only better players, but better men. For the love of the game, Thanks Mike !. I will always remeber also the meetings (or as we call in Brazil "resenhas") after the game at Capo's house, Tony's house, bars, etc. Talking about the games we just played made us always exaggerate on the great things we did and, of course, forget what we did not do or did poorly....that is the main reason we play amateur football...for the after game meetings/parties!  I will always miss those......

                                            SSFAC 2011-12,   2nd Place PSL Premier Division
Front Row L to R,  Leandro Monteiro,  Omar Perez-Diaz,  Andrew Pantano,  Fabio Marques,  Abner Ramos,  Ever Alvarez,  Howard Choy,  Back Row L to R,  Coach Mike,  Denis Ivanov,  Cesar Maldonado, Coach Daniele,  Scott Ellis,  Ryan Wiegmann,  Kenny Ewbank,  Damian Hites,  Thoeun Huy-Chan


As Fabio's playing days were starting to come to a conclusion, he reinvented himself into a key contributor on the pitch by changing his game to more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. He still found the net when opportunity presented itself, but Fabio now looked to mentor his younger teammates, he would talk to them on the field, guide them on where to be, and then send them the perfectly weighted pass that seemed to have eyes and find its way through defenders to its destination which many times led to a created chance on goal or an assist when converted. After 11 seasons of hard work, Fabio became the teams all time leader in goals scored and assists, as he overtook Danny Marcucci who was the previous team leader. Even though the speed of a 25 year old may have faded some, and the body may have had some minor aches and pains, and although the minutes might have dwindled some, his passion and love for the beautiful game never waivered. Fabio still approached each game day like it was his first. It was obvious that it didn't matter if he was on a field back home in Sao Paulo, or leaving memories for all of us on a field here in California. The game was in his heart and soul and he showed us every time he put on the jersey.

In that final season, we could still hear him say, "Did you guys see that?" to no one in particular on the bench as he headed back down the field after a terrific shot on net, or a brilliant pass to a teammate........ YES we did Fabio, and it was as good in this moment as it always had been. Thank you for all you gave us !!! yesheart