Local 12 year old soccer player completes training at elite Brazilian academy

  • Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mount Pleasant resident Zinho Ballish Regueiro juggles a soccer ball in Times Square in New York City. PHOTO COURTESY OF BALLISH REGUEIRO FAMILY

A Mount Pleasant 12-year-old boy is back in town after a year abroad, training at an elite soccer academy in Brazil. Alexandre Ballish Regueiro, who goes by Zinho, was invited to join Vasco da Gama Youth Academy, where some of the most well-known international soccer stars have trained.

The intense program included daily indoor and outdoor training, visits to a nutritionist and long, high-pressure sessions. Zinho, who was just 10 years old when he arrived, stood out among his peers – an impressive feat in an environment where his spot at the academy was always up for grabs, as other young stars were invited daily to try out.

Zinho managed all of this while also completing the sixth grade through an online public school based in Columbia. South Carolina Virtual Charter School (SCVCS) provided Zinho with the ability to accept the opportunity without missing a beat in his academic career.

Zinho’s father, a former professional athlete, stressed the importance of keeping up with your education while training for a professional athletic career.

“You have to have education to fall back on, because even if you’re the best in the world at something, one bad fall or concussion is all it takes to end a sporting career,” he said. “That’s why education has always been a huge priority for our family.”

SCVCS is a tuition-free public school option that gives K-12 students across South Carolina the chance to learn in the ways that are right for them. Students receive support from state-licensed teachers and engage with an active school community online and in person.

With SCVCS, Zinho has access to a premier, individualized curriculum, delivered online and focused on his individual learning needs. For Zinho, it is a perfect option – he excels in certain subject areas, and the curriculum is built in a way that lets him move more quickly through the material that he grasps with ease.

“With SCVCS, if Zinho understands something right away, we can move forward,” his father said. “Math comes really easily to him, and he loves history. We spend a lot of time going into detail in the areas that interest him most. For example, we’ve watched Ken Burns documentaries on the Civil War. A normal 11 year old would never get into that, but he did.”

Now, back in the U.S., Zinho is fluent in Portuguese from his year abroad. He started seventh grade at SCVCS on Aug. 19 and has rejoined his Mount Pleasant soccer club.


Sheree Muse is a local development manager with South Carolina Virtual Charter School. Visit the school’s website at www.scvcs.org.

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