International Soccer Network

"Your Source for the Beautiful Game"

The Pelé Sports Fan Ambassador Club – April 2012

The game of indoor soccer has some of the most diehard fans in all of the beautiful game.  Cleveland’s own Shawn Bartczak is one of those true supporters even though the ride called pro indoor soccer hasn’t been easy.

The indoor game has always been exciting, especially when large crowds create a circus-like atmosphere and a sport that is truly American.  The biggest criticism of soccer amongst casual fans has always been a lack of goals, but that is certainly not the case here.

“There is a lot of scoring,” Bartczak stated. “The speed of the game is very fast and the ball stays in play.”

Bartczak has followed the game since the Cleveland Force (1978-1988) and Cleveland Crunch (1989-2005) were the talk of the Forest City.  Richfield Coliseum saw some of the biggest names in the game: Hector Marinaro, Otto Orf, Zoran Karić, the list goes on and on.

Bartczak enjoyed his time at the Coliseum, seeing record crowds and meeting the players after the game.  He also traveled south to Canton to see the Canton Invaders at the Memorial Civic Center.

“Canton had a family atmosphere,” Bartczak declared. “You got to know a lot of the players. It really was a small hometown team.”

But the meteoric rise of indoor leagues soon experienced a drastic fall, one that saw the game almost disappear completely as both Cleveland franchises folded and the Invaders became nothing more than a memory.

A new MISL and an upstart PASL would eventually appear on the soccer landscape, two attempts at reviving the magic that once surrounded the sport of indoor soccer.  The MISL would go the way of a true pro league, while the PASL tried to create a “blue-collar league.”

“The PASL has a lot of scoring, the games are exciting,” Bartczak continued. “All the guys work hard; they are working regular jobs.”

Bartczak has done his part to promote the league, covering games and even leading online broadcasts.  His sole goal: to make sure the league gains more exposure and in return, more fans and a chance at longevity.

Part-time pros dominated the PASL for years, but soccer dynasties like the San Diego Sockers have turned the tide.  The Sockers fought their way to a perfect season, dominating opponents with a mix of youth and big-name veterans.

“Both of their keepers are great,” Bartczak concluded. “They dominated Detroit in the championship game. You couldn’t ask for a better game.”

The indoor game has a bright future thanks to the passion and enthusiasm of fans like Bartczak.  It won’t be an easy ride, but it will certainly be interesting.

Pelé is unquestionably the world’s greatest soccer ambassador, spreading his love of the Beautiful Revolution wherever he goes. He has become the game’s strongest supporter and has been the source of inspiration for millions around the globe. From the streets of New York to the fields of South Africa, Pelé Sports is a name synonymous with passion, creativity and innovating the game the way it should be played. A world without Pelé would be a world without soccer with millions missing out on the joy and the Beautiful Revolution we all love in this game.

Today’s supporters carry on the prestigious legacy of Pelé, growing and promoting the game in their own communities and passing the torch to a new generation of footballers. Mainstream media outlets have failed to give a face to these fans, people who do extraordinary things everyday and have stories that deserve to be told. Whether it is an Iraqi War veteran who is a passionate supporter of his favorite MLS side or a student making an impact on the college game, the concept of ambassadorship is alive and well here in North America. Today’s supporters are not hooligans or fanatics or even überfans, but rather gatekeepers to the true spirit of the beautiful game.

International Soccer Network, in conjunction with Pelé Sports, plans to celebrate the contributions of North American soccer fans every month with a new series of feature articles.

Gerson Dos Santos Named MISL Player of the Week

The Norfolk SharX are proud to announce that the Major Indoor Soccer League has chosen SharX midfielder Gerson Dos Santos the Player of the Week for his outstanding performance in the SharX first win of the season against the Rochester Lancers on December 29th. Dos Santos scored the 3-point winning goal on a free kick from outside the arc with less 30 seconds left on the clock to seal the victory and make history for the SharX. Dos Santos’ winning strike was his second goal of the game and he also had an assist on Yomby William’s goal in the third quarter to finish the night with six points.

From today’s MISL press release: “Dos Santos has been a bright spot for the SharX in recent weeks as Norfolk has progressed in its first season in the MISL. Dos Santos has been on a good run of form for the SharX during the past two weeks, scoring 15 points in his past four games to now lead the team in scoring. He has also broken into the league’s Top 20 scorers with 23 for the season.”

“Gerson is a terrific guy and he’ll do anything to help the team,” said head coach Jon Hall. “He’s a complete player and fantastic individual talent.  All of his teammates and the whole organization are very happy for him.”

The 29 year-old Dos Santos is from Sao Paulo, Brazil and played his college soccer at Virginia Commonwealth University.  He played for several youth clubs in his native Brazil including C.A. Juventus and Foz Cataratas E.C., before moving to the United States in 2005 to attend VCU. He played for the Rams for three seasons, scoring ten goals and nine assists, earning All-CAA First Team honors in his sophomore season. He was named CAA Co-Player of the Year as a senior. He played for the Richmond Kickers Future in the Premier Development League in 2007.

Dos Santos graduated from college one year early and turned professional in 2009, signing with the USL Second Division Richmond Kickers. He made his professional debut on April 18, 2009 in Richmond’s 2-2 opening day tie with the Harrisburg City Islanders and helped the Kickers to the 2009 USL Second Division championship. He will return to play for Richmond at the end of the MISL season.

For more information about the Norfolk SharX, Norfolk’s newest professional sports team, including sponsorships, tickets, internships or to volunteer, please call 757-419-3317 or visit

Rough Start to 2012 for SharX

Playing in their second game on the road in 48 hours and without their full roster, the Norfolk SharX dropped their second in a row, this time to Rochester 24-11 at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial on Sunday. The team fell to Syracuse on Saturday at the OnCenter 23-13.

The SharX first win on December 29 against Rochester cost them dearly. Leading scorer Matthew Delicate went down with a concussion and is expected to be out and least seven days. Goalkeeper Brian Sowell who notched the win was lost for an indefinite period with a severely sprained lateral muscle. He played the second half of the December 29th game almost one-handed but still secured the win.

New signee Shaka Bangura, who had proven to be a force on the pitch, left to play in Europe last week. Sowell has been placed on injured reserve for an indefinite period and Bangura has yet to be replaced. Hopefully, Delicate will rejoin the squad before the next game on January 12th, pending his medical clearance. Even short-handed, the SharX were in the match with Rochester on Sunday for the first half. The teams traded goals for the first half with goals from Rochester’s Mauricio Salles, Norfolk’s Matt Clare, Rochester’s Jeremy Ortiz, Clare’s second of the night, Salles’ second of the game, Norfolk’s Brandon Massie and Rochester’s Doug Miller.

The half ended 8-6 with shots close at 16-11 in favor of the Lancers. The second half was a little different though when Rochester netted three goals (Ljubomir Kocic, Nelson Becerra, Doug Miller) and Norfolk only one from Brian Hinkey with an assist from Marcus Schimidt.

The third quarter ended 14-8 and still not out of reach in the game of indoor soccer. The game started to get away from the SharX in the 4th quarter after they allowed two goals in the first four minutes. Now down by 10, Gersen Dos Santos answered with a blistering free kick for a three-point Norfolk score and brought the SharX back to within seven.

But Rochester shut the door on any hopes of a repeat of a SharX win over the Lancers with goals by Jeremy Ortiz, Grady Renfrow and Jefferson Dargout in the final four minutes of play to seal the victory 24-11. Rochester only outshot the SharX 31-25.

“We are very disappointed to lose,” said head coach Jon Hall. “Each team that we play is very, very good and we continue to learn with each loss. We came ready to play and ran out of gas in the second half. We have to learn what it is to put it all out there for an entire game at this level. We have to learn to play under this kind of pressure for a full 60 minutes.”

The SharX now have a ten-day break before hosting Baltimore at Norfolk Scope Arena on January 12. For more information about the Norfolk SharX, Norfolk’s newest professional sports team, including sponsorships, tickets, internships or to volunteer, please call 757-419-3317 or visit

SharX Lose Despite Ferrer’s Hat Trick

Playing without the team’s leading scorer Matthew Delicate who suffered a concussion in the December 29 win over Rochester and without the services of goalkeeper Brian Sowell (severe lateral sprain) who got the team’s first win in the same match, the Norfolk SharX fell to the Syracuse Silver Knights Saturday night 23-13. But the short-handed SharX stepped up against the Knights.

Norfolk’s Miguel Ferrer, who finished with a hat trick for the SharX, scored his first of three goals on the night just 13 seconds into the match to take Norfolk up 2-0. Syracuse answered seconds later off a goal by Ryan Pearce to even the score. Ferrer scored his second to put the SharX back on top 4-2 before the 5-minute mark but again Syracuse answered with a goal by Andriy Budnyy to tie the score. Daniel Stevens and Jeffrey Hughes then followed with goals to put the Silver Knights up 8-4 to end the quarter.

Gersen Dos Santos, who scored the winning goal for Norfolk against Rochester, opened the scoring in the third minute of the second quarter with an unassisted strike but again Syracuse answered off the foot of Slavisa Ubiparapovic and Hughes second goal of the night to take the Silver Knights up 12-6 but Norfolk’s Marcus Schimidt put the SharX back on the board with an assist by Matt Clare to end the first half 12-8.

The teams traded goals in the third quarter with Jon Gruenewald scoring for Syracuse and Ferrer got his third for the SharX with an assist by Dos Santos. With the score 14-10, Syracuse took over with strikes by Marcus Chantel, Anthony Mayer and Ubiparapovic’s second goal of the night. Norfolk’s Brian Hinkey added three points for the SharX on a powerplay but it wasn’t enough. Richard Shaw closed out the scoring in the match for Syracuse and the game ended 23-13. “We played very well tonight,” said head coach Jon Hall. “Just a few bad decisions and a few bad plays made the difference. We were in the game until the end.”

The SharX will travel to Rochester to face the Lancers yet again on Monday January 2 at 1 p.m. The match can be seen on The SharX will have a ten day break before taking the field at Norfolk Scope Arena again on January 12 against the Baltimore Blast at 7 p.m. For more information about the Norfolk SharX, Norfolk’s newest professional sports team, including sponsorships, tickets, internships or to volunteer, please call 757-419-3317 or visit

SharX Travel to New York to Celebrate the New Year

Coming off the first win in their 10-game history Thursday night, the Norfolk SharX head north to celebrate New Year’s Eve in New York where they will face the Syracuse Silver Knights Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. The teams have only met once this season facing off in the SharX inaugural match on November 11.  Syracuse won the game 23-7. The team then heads to Rochester for a Monday afternoon kickoff against the Rochester Lancers, the team the SharX beat on December 29 to claim their first win.

Syracuse and Norfolk are coming off victories in their last games.  The SharX (1-9) earned a hard-fought 18-16 last second win over the Lancers on December 29 and Syracuse (5-6) held off the Missouri Comets 18-8 on December 23.  In addition to their loss to Norfolk, Rochester (5-7) lost to Milwaukee 10-6 on December 27.

The SharX are led in scoring by Matthew Delicâte with 17 points, followed closely by Gersen Dos Santos (16 points) who scored Thursday night’s winning goal.  Matt Clare, Miguel Ferrer, and Brady Bryant have all scored in double figures for Norfolk so far this season.

Syracuse is led by Slavisa Ubiparapovic whose 36 points earns him the fifth spot in the league in scoring. Rochester is led by Mauricio Salles with 40 points and Andrew Hoxie with 32.  Salles ranks second in MISL in scoring.

The SharX will have earned the ten day rest that awaits them following Monday’s game before returning to Norfolk Scope Arena on December 12 to face Baltimore on January 12.

All games can be seen live on For more information about the Norfolk SharX, Norfolk’s newest professional sports team, including sponsorships, tickets, internships or to volunteer, please call 757-419-3317 or visit