DALLAS - The role of captain is taken very seriously by Gabriel NuÃ±ez of IMG Academy soccer program U16.
âA big part of my job as captain is to be a leader by example," said Nunez, a junior at IMG Academy School (Bradenton, Fla.) âI can't say bad things to a player. If a teammate is down, I cheer him up. If he is on the ground, I help him up."
When emotions are running hot, NuÃ±ez becomes peacemaker.
He helped restore order after some extracurricular bumping in the penalty area late in Monday evening's 2-0 win over Andromeda USSF U15/16 Academy of Dallas.
âFirst, I tell the guy on the other team to take it easy," NuÃ±ez explained, âthen I say the same thing to my teammate."
When selecting a captain, IMG coaches look for a someone than can be an extension of the coaches staff on the field.
NuÃ±ez said when watching soccer on television he pays particular attention to captains such as Liverpool's Steven Gerrard.
He's careful not to show favoritism to his closest friends like Pablo Aguilar and Simon Ranauro, a goalscorer alongside Dean Abdehou onMonday, when it comes to team matters.
âI have to be close with everybody, not just by best friends," NuÃ±ez said. âOur team has mixed cultures but we get along well. We really don't have internal problems to deal with."
At times, NuÃ±ez said he can be caught in the middle. After all, a group of 16-year-old boys hundreds of miles from home want to have fun.
âBut there are times when we have to take things seriously," NuÃ±ez added.
With its latest win, IMG improved to 2-0 in Bracket G. After an off day Tuesday,NuÃ±ez and his mates will complete the preliminary round against Prepa Tech FB of Monterrey, Mexico. Prepa Tech has a win and a tie.