by LIONEL E. OLIVO
Robin Shäufele is one half of the new Swedes taking Manhatanville’s College Men’s Soccer Team by storm. After having a sub-par year, the Valiants searched far and wide for individuals willing and able to take them to the playoffs. That search took Manhattanville College coach Gregg Miller, all the way to Sweden.
In a land traditionally known for fierce warriors (Vikings) and their Olympic exploits (#4 in all time gold medals), the Valiants discovered Robin Shäufele. At the time he was playing Division 1 soccer for IFK Luleå ,in Sweden. However, he also wanted an education. “In Sweden, I can only play soccer or go to school, here I can do both”.
As talented as he is, Manhattanville didn’t find Robin. Robin found Manhattanville. “I retained an agency to help me come to the United States.” In Sweden, there are agencies that help athletes and other professionals study abroad. The agency lined up several colleges where Robin could succeed as a player, but also as a professional. The reason he chose Manhattanville was Coach Gregg Miller. “Coach Gregg flew to Sweden to meet me,” Shäufele said.
A 6’1 freshman from Kalx, Sweden, Robin Shäufele has been practicing soccer since the tender age of five and has been living away from his parents since the age of fifteen. He was a two-time champion with his high school team, during his freshman and sophomore years. Robin graduated high school in 2011. For the following two years he played Division 1 soccer for IFK Luleå.
At first glance, Robin may appear as someone not meriting a second look, but underestimating him would be a grave mistake. The average university student enrolls in college from the ages 17-19. Robin is 22. Such difference in age and level of maturity is what makes Robin such an integral part of Manhattanville’s team. In soccer, as well as in life, talent can only take you so far. The rest is attitude. Through his previous experience, Shaüfele is expected not only to lead with words, but also with actions.
That being said, his game is nothing to be mocked. Shäufele has logged more than 4,522 minutes playing soccer full time in his home country. Even though the rules are the same, the style of play is more tactical than physical in Sweden. The level of tactical awareness he brings to the team will be crucial for the success of the Valiants this year.
What sets Shäufele apart from most players is that to him, soccer is not a sport, it’s second nature. At the football pitch he feels like he’s home. “At the field it doesn’t matter what your language is, soccer will always be soccer,” he said.
Looking Towards the Future
Leaving home is not an easy undertaking, especially when “home” is several thousand miles away. Basically, Robin is starting over from zero in the United States. However, he is not alone.“ I moved away from home at the age of 15. My parents didn’t mind seeing me leave, they wished me luck. They are used to seeing me over the internet,” he said.
Luckily for him, he didn’t come alone. For his new adventure at Manhattanville, Robin recruited long time friend Christoffer Stahl, who is his roommate. Some of the challenges he faces are the language barriers and a new standard of education at Manhattanville College. “I feared I couldn’t keep up with the school work and trying to stay positive,” he said.
As of the time of this writing, Shäufele was undecided about his major. One thing is clear, he came to win, not only in soccer but also in the classroom. During our interview I asked what does he do for fun, his answer: play soccer. “In the field I can relax, I know what to do,” he said.
For Shäufele, soccer is not a sport, it’s a way of life.