From Zona Zoo to New Zealand

University of Arizona alumn has taken his skills and passions for soccer beyond Tucson to international fields

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David Schipper, UA alumni, landed a deal with Southern United FC in New Zealand.

David Schipper’s love of soccer came from his dad.

Luis Schipper played the sport when he was younger while growing up in Mexico and instilled that love into his family. 

“It’s like a dream coming true," Luis said. "I still dream of becoming a professional soccer player, so I am living my dream through his eyes."

Throughout Tucson, soccer has seen a jump in popularity from American Youth Soccer Organization to FC Tucson, but somewhere among it is the University of Arizona’s men’s soccer team.

One former alumni is working hard to put it back on the map — more like on the globe.

Schipper graduated from the UA in 2014 and set out on a "dream" that has taken him from Canada to Brazil to Latvia to New Zealand.

Schipper played soccer at Arizona all four years. He had offers from other colleges, but those quickly fell through when he broke his ankle. The UA was the only school to stick with its offer, he said.

“My whole family bleeds red and blue,” David said.

He also holds the pride that went along with putting on a Wildcat uniform. It also helped that his sister attended the UA.

“It was the greatest feeling ever, putting on that block A,” David said. “Arizona always felt like home.” 

David Schipper's brother Alan Schipper has served two roles in his life, according to David, as a brother and as a coach. 

Alan was quick to admit who beat who in the one-on-one games as a kid.

“I always like to use a line from the movie 'Little Giants': 'Even if you beat them one of out of 100 times, I will be happy,'" Alan said. 

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From the coaching side, Alan said his brother’s biggest strength is the mental part of his game.

“I think his best skill is his vision," Alan said. "When he has the ball, he knows where to pass the ball or take the ball to the goal. He’s a captain and a team leader. He motivates players to be better.”

Soccer plays such a large role in the Schipper household, a bond that has brought the family together, Alan said.

“We are closer together. The bond that we have together from when my dad was playing when he was younger and growing up in Mexico, to having his dream to have one of his kids become a professional player, its everyone’s dream to have one person there," Alan said. "I’m very happy it’s David.” 

David majored in sports and society and minored in Spanish at the UA. He first made it down to Mexico for tryouts for Dorados de Sinaloa and Atlante FC but unfortunately was released before the season started. 

He then came back to the U.S., first playing for his hometown with the San Diego Sockers, then signing a deal with the Seattle Impact FC of the Major Arena Soccer League. 

David then made it up north to Canada to play for the York Region Shooters SC of the Canadian Soccer League. This gave him a taste of international soccer and a chance to see a different part of not only the world, but also the sport, David said. 

He played two seasons in Canada and during his time there was loaned out to Goiatuba Esporte Clube, which plays in the third division of the Campeonato Goiano in Brazil. 

After he opted out of the final year of his contract, David was looking to play soccer overseas.

He signed a one-year deal with Albatroz SC in Latvia in 2017.

After one year in Latvia, he looked elsewhere. He eventually completed a deal with Southern United FC, a team in New Zealand. 

“Soccer is not their main sport. That’s different for me from the other countries I’ve played in, like, everywhere I’ve played, soccer is what they live and die off of," David said. "When I first got there, all they cared about is the Rugby team, the All Blacks there, and they play something called Netball."

The differences between New Zealand and the other places he had played was apparent and immediate. 

"Everything is kind of opposite, everyone drives on the other side of the road," David said. "But everyone was kind of normal ... they do have a crazy accent and they use different terms.”

David has been to many countries around the world, but Canada stood out to him.

“It was where I signed my first professional contract and that’s where I could say I made my dream come true,” he said. “Toronto is a beautiful city and very passionate.”

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However, for soccer, nothing beats Brazil, David said.

“Soccer in Brazil is just like a religion,” he said.

Schipper has fond memories of his time in Tucson, whether it was grabbing Sonoran hot dogs or an Eegee’s, and is glad to have those memories with his friends in Tucson. 

Another one of his favorite things was getting the opportunity to play UA's well-know rival, Arizona State University.

David has also kept up with former teammates. He said he has seen the recent expansion of the Tucson soccer community and is very happy to see the sport he loves get more attention everywhere. 

“From FC Tucson, I’ve seen the development, and just Tucson in general," David said. "It’s insane the fact of how much soccer has grown in Tucson.”


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