Young Honduran talent Iker Bustamante shares the ball at Toys for Tots event
By Roger Gonzalez
Iker Bustamante is only 11 years old. You can tell he is a young gun just by looking at his short stature and baby face. On the soccer field, however, he plays beyond his years.
Bustamante, whose parents are from Honduras, has been simply dominant for Lee Mt. Vernon’s Under-11 boys team (LMVSA ’01 Boys Red), scoring numerous goals on the first day of PWSI’s Toys For Tots tournament.
“How [my children] have grown up with soccer and how they have started, all of that, I worked with them since they could walk,” his father, Alirio Bustamante, who also has a 15-year-old son who plays for the D.C. United Youth Academy, told Soccer Wire. “Now, I have a nephew who is playing in Spain. We are a soccer family.
“You have to work hard with discipline and patience, you have to show them and they will learn.”
The little Bustamante has learned. On the field, the tenacious youngster fakes by one player, pushes the ball through the legs of another and fires into the net. In his team’s 8-1 victory, Iker scored a pair of goals and when he was taken off the field by his coach, some observers might’ve thought it was in order to ensure the game wouldn’t get even more out of hand. He has taken his dad’s advice and the advice of his brother and coach to heart, with them all stressing that it isn’t a one-player game.
“He gets the others involved,” said his coach, Brian O’Dell.
Bustamante describes his son as a dominant midfielder, referencing world soccer legends Fernando Redondo of Argentina and Dunga of Brazil as “playing style” role models.
“They are players that ate up the field,” he said.
Now, he hopes that in the years coming, his son improves and gets the chance to play in high school and potentially at the college level, and perhaps even emulate those star South Americans and launch a professional career.
Mindful of how hard life can be in a Central American nation like Honduras, Alirio came to the United Staes to provide a better life for his children. So far, so good, as the soccer-filled family has made a name and aims to continue doing so.
“It’s a dream we have for all of our kids that they get to the highest point,” the elder Bustamante said of Iker. “With that, it’s a process.
“He is technical. He has fun playing. Sometimes he plays when he wants to, but he has fun.”
He has fun in other age groups, too, also spending time with a U-13 team.
“I’ve seen him stand out [at that level],” O’Dell said.
Now, at such a young age, the idea of playing college or pro soccer hasn’t crossed Iker Bustamante’s mind. But one difference can be seen in this talented midfielder. Youth tournaments are full of talented players who try to do too much by themselves., but not this kid. With each goal comes a beautiful assist. He loves the game, and his father loves where this is heading.
Iker wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I like to play with the team,” he said simply.