Emmanuel Paul Nitto is a manifestation of all that Beyond F.C. represents. To interact with Nitto is to taste the ethos of the Beyond Football Club. Brotherhood, mirth, quirks, tenacity, and humility are some of the many elements that Beyond’s captain espouses in his duties as leader of the upstart club. Rebranded and reborn, Beyond FC pushes forward united as one with Paul at the helm. But just who is this black armbanned man in Beyond blue; or for that matter Beyond Football Club?
- Age: 29
- Position: Forward
- Team: Beyond F.C.
What’s your background in soccer?
My dad played professional soccer and so I’ve been playing soccer since I can remember. In high school, I played for various top club teams in New Jersey including what was then NY/NJ Metrostars (now NY Red Bull) youth team and then played in college for GW Club Soccer. After college, I went to Sicily to play for the team my dad played for and then ultimately came back to the US to start working (a real job).
How would you characterise your experience with the BFC team?
Beyond FC has truly been a great experience. I haven’t played organised football like this in almost 5 years, and to be on a team with so many players who are committed to succeeding has truly been a blessing. I forgot how much I missed being part of a team, practicing together, and developing friendships outside of football. I would put this experience of playing with this club higher than any other club before.
What responsibilities come with being captain of BFC?
There’s definitely a lot that comes with being a captain. Even as the season progresses, there are things that will pop up that I know I’m responsible for as well. And I know I sometimes do not fulfill all those duties. For me, it’s making sure that everyone is on the same page on game day and practices. Everyone realizes that we are a team: no player is better than the other. Each player should know that they are needed and loved and that we wouldn’t succeed if we didn’t have them on the team. It’s also encouraging people to get better, keeping the team focused throughout the game. And most importantly, for me as a captain, I try and make sure everyone is having fun because you play your best when you’re having a good time. And so I try to exude positive energy to the team. But like I said, it is a lot.
What are you general feelings about how last season played out?
Last season we had a lot of new players and so, it was difficult to try and gain momentum going throughout the season since we were still trying to figure out how to play with each other. So it was a rather disappointing season. Even this season, we have a lot of new players, but many of the core players have remained which has helped with our record.
Are there any significant changes that have occurred within the club since the end of the last season?
Well, first and foremost, we changed the name of our team and our entire brand. We also added another team. The biggest change however, has been the commitment by players on all three teams and their willingness to get better and succeed on the field.
What’s an area of focus on the field for BFC this season?
Realistically, we are just trying to get better each and every game. But I would say that two key areas we try often to focus on is communication and defence: communication is number one and is something that we are still working on. Secondly, is defending as a unit, which can be done only with effective communication.
What has BFC most improved on in the offseason?
Our team went from being a group of players who were teammates to a group of players who are now friends. You play much better with your friends than people who are just your teammates.
Is there a certain player that the team expects to step up or fulfill potential?
There are about 70 players across our three teams. The goal is to try and make each and every player get better with each practice and game. The reason why I love this sport so much is that one player is only as good as his players around him. And so, at beyond FC, we embrace that and make sure everyone feels just as important as the player next to him.
What are the team goals for this season? What’s the goal as far as the table goes?
The goal is to get better and better each and every game. If we can finish at the top half of the table, that will be good momentum leading into next season.
Any pre-game rituals for yourself or the team?
Haha, I’m very superstitious. And so before every game, I have the same conversation with my brother and always wear the same pregame shoes. Sometimes if I score, I’ll eat the same food that I ate the last game I scored.
Lastly, what are you thoughts on the competition?
There are some quality teams in the league but we believe we can compete with any of them. Our best game was against the top team in the league who we lost to 3-2 without our key goalie in the net.
Images courtesy of Storelli.com