West Tisbury soccer standout returns from Europe

Gabriel and Rocco Bellebuono of West Tisbury at the Estadio Da Luz in Lisbon, home of the legendary Portuguese club Benfica. — Photo courtesy of Holly Bellebuono

Gabriel Bellebuono, a 7th-grader at West Tisbury School, and his father, Rocco Bellebuono, traveled last week with the Mass Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP) to Portugal and Spain. Gabriel normally plays forward on David Wallis’s U-14 team as well as on Primo Lombardi’s U-13 team. He is also on the roster of the competitive Massachusetts ODP team and was part of the program’s 16th year of European training, skill development, and games through Portugal Pro Soccer.

The team trained at the Sports Centre in Vila Real de Santo Antonio and played two games along the Algarve Coast in Monte Gordo, Portugal, against Vila Real FC.

They also played a game in the Andalusian region of Spain at the Ayamonte 5,000-seat stadium against CD Sandiego Ayamonte, in addition to sightseeing in the historic towns, cathedrals, and zoos. Gabriel made the winning goal at Ayamonte, bringing the final score to 2-1. They also watched Benfica v. Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Europa League second-round match.

Rocco Bellebuono, a foreman with South Mountain Company, is vice-president of the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Soccer organization and he coaches the girls U-15 team. He is also assistant coach with the Mass ODP 2000 girls team and has his National D coaching license. Gabriel and Rocco returned Friday, February 22.