The soccer wasn’t a huge adjustment.
Everything else, well that kind of was.
Phelype Dutra is a senior on the Northeast High School soccer team, and seven years ago, he made the move from Brazil to come to Philadelphia to go to school.
“It was a big transition, a lot of my family is still there,” Dutra said. “My aunt came with me, my parents are still in Brazil. We talk a lot on the phone, and I’m really close with my aunt.
“I came here for a better opportunity, mostly with school. I had to learn English when I got here. When I first got to school, it was only Americans, no Brazilians, so I had to learn (English) so I could talk to people. Now that I know the language, it’s a lot easier. I’m able to do well in school and do anything.”
Dutra took English as a second language courses when he arrived, but now he’s in the other classes and he’s excelling.
In soccer, he’s speaking his team’s language, too.
A starting striker since he was a freshman, Dutra has improved every year. He played club soccer for FC Delco, and he’s helped Northeast win a championship. He also lost once in the finals. Last year, the Public League didn’t have a championship because the schools played in the spring. That lights a fire under Dutra and his teammates.
“We only lost once, and that was to Franklin Towne Charter, so I really want to win a championship this year,” Dutra said. “We lost a game to Central, they got the golden goal in overtime. I think we can play with anyone. It was really tough to lose that game, but we know we can play better.”
It would be hard for Dutra to play better.
The captain, who lives a few blocks away from the high school, is a dynamic playmaker who can play many different positions. He’s more than capable of setting up teammates, but he’s at his best when he’s asked to finish.
This year, he has 15 tallies in helping the Vikings start 6-1 in Public League play.
The Vikings have been a top team in the city for years, and last year they proved that by playing Father Judge to a stalemate during the spring season. Games like that give Dutra and his teammates the confidence they need to make noise this year, both in the regular season and the postseason, and if they get out of the Public League, he believes they can do well in at the state level.
“I think this team can be really good if we play together,” said Dutra, a four-year starter. “I’ve been playing soccer since I was 8, and I think I’m at my best when I’m scoring. I’ve been scoring a lot this year, but I get a lot of help. We have a really good team.
“We only lost once in the playoffs since I’ve been here, the Public League playoffs. I think we can have a really good year this year. We have to do better than we played, but I know we can play with anyone. We can beat the best teams in the Public League and I really would like to see how we could do against good teams not in the Public League. I think we can play with anyone. I think we can beat anyone.”
The captain has confidence in his teammates, and he tries to show he believes in them whenever they play. So far, they’ve gotten the message.
“I try to be a good leader, but I’m not (demonstrative),” Dutra said. “I try to lead by playing and showing them what to do. We have other leaders who are (more vocal). But everyone knows that if I can help them, I will. I try to be a good captain, but I’m quiet, so I try to be a good captain in other ways.”
He hopes to bring his skills and leadership abilities with him next year when he plays at the college level. He knows he wants to continue his soccer career and get an education, but he’s still trying to figure out what he wants to study.
“Next year I know I want to play soccer, but I’ve been talking about (potential majors) with my senior counselor, we’re working on that.” Dutra said. “I’m trying to figure out what I want to do for a career. There are a lot of things I like, so I’m just trying to figure everything out. But I know I want to play soccer.
“Sometimes I go to construction sites. It’s pretty hard, really hard, actually. It’s good to make money, but it’s a really difficult job. It’s really hard. I mean, I was talking to my teachers and all, maybe I could be a supervisor or something like that. Or a manager.”
But first he wants to manage to bring yet another Public League championship to Northeast.
“When you win a lot, you really want to win, so this year is so important to me,” said Dutra, who does community service at Faith and Hope Church when he’s not playing soccer or doing school work. “Our goal is to win the championship. We think we can be really good. We’re working to win it again.”