There are over 4 million registered youth soccer players in the U.S., with close to 200,000 playing in a talent-rich league known as Cal South, stretching across a large swath of Southern California. Now at age 16, Roman has played in Cal South for the last 8 years.
One of Roman’s big breaks came when he took a trip to Brazil in 2011 to play with some of that country’s top youth players. On the heels of that experience, Roman took three trips to Europe in 2012 and 2013, including playing for two different Brazilian clubs in Spain, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and England.
What changed for him was the realization of how much soccer had given him – enriching his life and allowing him the opportunity to travel and experience other cultures. It also inspired Roman to find a way to use the sport he loves to help others.
THE SPD FOUNDATION
Roman did research on a variety of charitable causes. “I looked at issues like homelessness, poverty, illiteracy, physical disabilities, education and emerging medical issues,” recalls Roman. After much research, the charity he chose hit close to home.
“Our family has been impacted by sensory-related issues,” said Roman, “and I’ve learned that it is far more common among America’s youth than most people realize.” After looking at many different charities, Roman was impressed with the work at The SPD Foundation. “Dr. Miller has done so much to help put Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) on the map and help thousands of children and families like ours that are impacted by SPD.” The next step was to update his Play For Others team and coordinate having the monies directed to The SPD Foundation, which Roman did earlier this year.
“We couldn’t be more pleased,” said Dr. Lucy Jane Miller. “It is actually remarkable. We don’t see philanthropy like this very often from someone Roman’s age.” Another one of Roman’s Play For Others donors was John Mullen, President of Cal South.
“Over the years, we have had the good fortune of watching Roman grow in soccer, grow as a student-athlete and grow in his personal character off the field. He is an excellent soccer player and an even more special young man,” said Mullen.
Now a member of the U.S. Development Academy where Roman plays for the Nomads Soccer Club in San Diego, California, Roman recently took his fourth overseas soccer trip and toured Europe for two months.
Selected to the 16-man travel squad of Pequeninos do Jockey, which is based in São Paulo, Brazil, Roman toured Europe in July and August of 2013 and played in some of the world’s top international tournaments.
No matter where soccer takes Roman, there is one thing The SPD Foundation can count on – Roman knows whom he is playing for. When Roman Martin steps on the soccer field, he is playing for 1 out of every 20 children in the U.S. that suffers from sensory issues.