Eriks Santos is a name known by HFX Wanderers FC fans, even though they have yet to see him play. The 24-year-old Brazilian was unable to join the squad for the 2020 Island Games in PEI because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he's itching to arrive in Halifax and prove to supporters that the wait will be worth it. Santos watched every match of The Island Games from his home in Brazil and often reached out to show his support for the players and the club during the competition. The Wanderers think enough of him that they extended his contract for next seasons, with two options on 2022 and 2023. Santos chatted with CanPL.ca contributor Dylan Lawrence (with Wanderers forward João Morelli translating) about his journey and what he's looking forward to in 2021.
How was the experience for you getting to watch the Wanderers play at The Island Games? ES: I liked the team – even the training through Zoom, and I think the team is very united and everybody helps each other. I think that’s really good. It must have been hard watching the games and not being there. What did you do in Brazil to keep yourself motivated? ES: I was following the plan we have from ( the strength and conditioning coach). I was playing football with some friends too, trying to play some extra football and not only workout. Just playing a lot of football. What other activities kept you busy? ES: I played foot volley a lot and it helps me keep my touch. Without the ball, I was doing some cycling as well. Foot volley, the one we play on the sand, is more common in Brazil. We don’t really see it anywhere else. On the beach or wherever it is, I’ve only really seen it in Brazil and I’ve enjoyed doing a lot of that.
Aside from playing football on the pitch, would you say these extra games like ‘foot volley’ help you improve as a footballer? ES: Playing on the sand helps you a lot with your explosion and your strength because it’s an intense game. We enjoy it a lot to play this because it’s fun, but it also really helps with your competitive mentality. I play in some serious competitions and it makes you competitive because you want to win. I can transfer this mentality to football because it’s very similar. You already have some professional experience playing for FC Dila Gori. Could you tell me about this experience in Georgia? ES: I got there in 2018 and stayed for a season and a half. When I got there, the cold scared me a bit because it was very cold in December and January. I thought it was an opportunity to get back to playing my best. When I got there I wanted to step up my game (even more). Watching the games in Canada and comparing it to my experience in Georgia, I’m excited because I think Canada will be better; there are better players, the organization looks better and everything I saw with the team in Canada looks like a step up from my experience so far. Are you ready to come to Canada and make an impact with the Wanderers in the Canadian Premier League? ES: I’ve been preparing myself to fight for a place in the team and I think I can do it. I could make an impact in the league but it’s a team game and I’m just hoping to make an impact for the team with what I can do in my position. Were there other players on the Wanderers you enjoyed watching in PEI and are excited to play with? ES: I liked (watching) Akeem, Riggi too. Rampy and Sissoko in the middle. Christian Oxner was very good as well. I'm excited to play with them all. What are you looking forward to when you finally arrive in Canada next year? ES: Besides football, I know that Canada is good because everyone who goes to Canada from Brazil talks really good about Canada and I’m just excited to go there and live a good lifestyle. Safety and everything else. I can’t think of too many other things because I’m just really excited to train and play.