Soccer is the world’s most popular sport, so it’s only fitting some of Newton County’s foreign exchange students have been participants with the area’s high school soccer teams.
Such was the case in 1988 with Newton’s Oscar Fernandez and Mikka Soivo, dozens of other foreign-born students and one of 2012-13’s exchange students in Eastside’s Phillip Keinberger.
Keinberger is one of four foreign exchange students with NCSS this year, and one of three from Germany, with France being the only other country represented in the program this time around. Keinberger is also the only one, not only learning the American way in school, but also in high school sports.
Keinberger has been with the Eagles’ soccer team since starting at Eastside eight months ago, making friends and seeing many other parts of Georgia through his team.
“I like playing soccer here,” Keinberger said. “It’s a team sport and (my teammates) are all very nice, and you always have things to do. You get to travel around Georgia and visit other schools. Plus you’re kind of like the new star from Germany or another country so I’m kind of enjoying that.”
The soccer team has been a big way for Keinberger to see more of the area around Newton County as he does not have a U.S. driver’s license and needs to depend on others for transportation, something he misses the most from his hometown of Berlin.
Berlin, being much more of an urban area than Covington, provided many more opportunities and entertainment options for Keinberger than his current situation.
“I miss that I can do what I want to do and I just can’t leave the house when I want to, taking a bus or subway; I miss the good infrastructure,” Keinberger said.
However, for the times when he has to travel by car, it’s a bit more luxurious than what he’s used to driving around in, in Berlin.
“I think it’s fun, I like the big cars,” Keinberger said.
Being in Newton County is much more of a rural atmosphere for Keinberger, who is finding getting used to the “country” as educational as the rest of his experiences. Not being able to go to clubs or other places in Berlin has enabled him to learn to keep busy in other ways.
“I think it’s pretty good here,” Keinberger said. “I’m having a lot of fun with my soccer team, school is pretty easy for me coming from a better educational system in Germany and there’s a big difference between country life and big city life.”
Those are just some of the reasons that made Keinberger want to participate in the foreign exchange student program — learning our culture and improving his English and learning the differences of soccer.
“The play is more physical than it is in Germany, but the play is more faster in Germany,” Keinberger said.