Flash FC Defender Eugene Pele Martinez Signs for Vancouver FC in Canadian Premier League
With the UPSL Spring season around the corner, SoCal Central team Flash FC (Santa Ana, CA) have announced that star center back Eugene Pele Martinez has signed his first professional contract ahead of the 2023 season. After a successful NCAA college soccer career in addition to standout performances in the UPSL, the Belize International now has signed with Vancouver FC in the Canadian Premier League.
After a breakout year in 2021 where he made 18 NCAA appearances for Cal Poly Pamona, keeping nine clean sheets along the way, Martinez now takes the next step in his soccer journey after spending the past year playing in the UPSL Premier Division. Last month, he was able to lead Flash FC all the way to the semi-finals of the UPSL SoCal Regional Cup, playing a pivotal role and contributing with four tournament goals. He now joins a brand-new Canadian Premier League expansion team, led by former US Soccer assistant and former Iranian National Team Head Coach Afshin Ghotbi. Ahead of his first pro season, Martinez describes what it means to sign his first professional contract.
“It’s a dream come true to join Vancouver FC and continue my playing career as a professional. The Flash provided a perfect playing platform for me to continue to stay in top form after my college season. I believe in my ability and look forward to proving myself with my new team and in the Canadian Premier League. My experience in the UPSL was fantastic, because it’s a very competitive league, and has players from all different levels. I got help from a lot of great coaches here in this league and that made me the player I am today.
Flash Head Coach Jose Lopez spoke about the team’s pride surrounding Martinez’s move. “We really want to thank him for his playing contributions with the club. He really helped us dominate in the UPSL Regional Cup recently and is ready to take his talents to the pro game; the sky is the limit for him. We wish him the best in his journey now as a pro player.
Although Martinez has just begun his pro soccer journey, the four-time capped Belize International already has ambitions to give back to the next generation of players from his home country. Recently, he has established the Pele Soccer Foundation in Belize which offers young players the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of soccer, collect new clothes and soccer equipment, and instill the importance of education.
“Where I grew up there was no academy, just a Boys and Girls team that played on Sundays. At the age of 14 I went on to play with first division clubs in my home country and was able to win local championships from here. The places where I learned football and the people that are teaching the game here are important to me, and I want to help contribute to that.”
“The people that helped me along the way are near and dear to my heart. The players I met in college and the UPSL are also like family to me. My professional soccer dream came faster than I thought, but that was only because I was working hard, training every day, without seeing the immediate rewards. My dream is to coach the Belize National team and to take them to their first-ever World Cup. I also want to one day build a school for my soccer foundation in Belize, so that we could create something for these kids in our community who lack the opportunities to go further in soccer and in life.”
With both the UPSL Spring Season and the Canadian Premier League set to kick off this and next month, expect to see Martinez in action for Vancouver FC at the club’s Canadian Premier League debut on April 15. Meanwhile, Flash FC are heading into a SoCal Central Premier Division season in fine form after almost making it the finals of a very competitive SoCal Regional Cup. After scoring 22 goals out of 10 games last season, the Flash will look to repeat their high-scoring output but will look to build on the defensive end this season. For more information on Spring schedule releases and more, stay tuned to upsl.com
About United Premier Soccer League
The UPSL was formed in 2011 and occupies the unofficial fourth tier of US Soccer. Across its Premier, Division 1 and Womens leagues there are more than 400 teams competing nationwide. The UPSL is now the largest Pro Development League in North America and is a National Affiliate member of the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). Each UPSL team is individually owned and operated. UPSL teams are eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup Qualifying Rounds through the league’s affiliation with USSF.
More information about UPSL can be found at www.upsl.com or by following the league on Facebook (facebook.com/upslsoccer), Instagram (@upslsoccer) and Twitter (@upslsoccer).
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