International flair fueling Butler soccer

Eight different countries represented on this year's team as they bid for a 5th region 6 title in six years.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- If you're looking for an example of people from different backgrounds and ethnicities working and thriving together, you could look at a number of area high school soccer teams. One of the most successful of those melting pots is at Butler High School.

About midway through his 13-year tenure as the Butler High School boys soccer coach, the makeup of Mario Carillo's team began to change.

"It was probably about seven years ago when we started to see more international kids come to Butler," Carillo said. "And it's just kind of mushroomed from there. We get more every year now, and our roster is probably about 90% international."

That has coincided with increased success. This year's Bears are 12-6-1 and bidding for their fifth Region 6 title in six years.

"We want to win so bad that every practice is like a fight," senior midfielder Kevin Mulume said. "We fight to win the small games, the drills, the finishing that we're doing today, and we just work well together."

"Our energy's crazy," senior forward Mustafa Almohammedawi added. "Passionate. We just want to win."

There are players from eight different countries represented on the current roster, including several from Mexico and Iraq. It's been a learning experience for the whole group. 

"The family atmosphere and the brotherhood and these guys playing for each other, that's the biggest part of it," Carillo said. "These kids all want to come here and be part of something. They see what it is, and it's special, and they want to be part of it.

"We have kids from warring countries, but they don't care. All they want to do is play soccer and all they want to do is win. The other stuff that goes on. The political stuff, that doesn't come into the team aspect whatsoever. It never has."       

"You learn a lot about different cultures," Mulume said . "Sometimes, you can even learn about the language — how they do things and what they celebrate, stuff like that. It's a lot of fun. I enjoy being here every day."

"It's fun, like he said," Almohammedawi added. "It's diverse. You get to learn a lot of cultures. It's like more energy, more 'wanting it.'"

The Bears are hoping a tough early schedule pays off in the postseason. But whenever the season comes to a close, the fun may stop momentarily, but the family will endure. 

"They are such a joy to be around and coach, and the other coaches feel the same way," Carillo said. "We look forward to coming to training every day. We look forward to games because these kids, they bring it every day." 

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