Dominican Bayron Matos dreams of putting DR and Latin America in the NFL

Dominican Bayron Matos, who is part of the International Player Pathway program, said Sunday that he dreams of bringing his country and Latin America to the NFL.

“Taking my country to the NFL is a dream that little by little is becoming a reality. It motivates me day by day, but it goes beyond my country, it is for all of Latin America that it would be a great pride to play in the NFL,” said Matos.

Born in the neighborhood of Los Mina, Santo Domingo, he is the only Latin American player among the 15 that make up the 2024 generation of the ‘International Player Pathway’, talents outside the United States, who will seek a place among the 32 NFL teams.

Matos is 23 years old, 2.06 meters tall and weighs 131 kilos. Like many of his compatriots, he was born with a baseball and a baseball glove under his pillow.

As a teenager he battered every batter in front of him with a 95 mph fastball to the delight of his mother, who wanted to see him succeed as a ballplayer.

“Everyone saw me as a ballplayer, but not me. I did it for my mom, because she liked it and it made her happy and I wanted to make her happy. But it wasn’t my goal to be a ballplayer even though I was very good,” he recalled in a deep, powerful voice.

In the small family home where Bayron spent his childhood, his mother slept on the bottom bunk; he slept with his brother on the top bunk, which he had to give up because he grew too big and his feet dangled over the edge.

As his feet overflowed the bunk, his dream of emigrating to the United States ran wild. He wanted to play basketball, to see the Tennessee Titans live, to experience Christmas American-style.

“Going to America and having my own bed was amazing. To experience Christmas here the way I saw it on TV. I love the presents under the tree, Thanksgiving. It’s been an amazing journey that’s just beginning,” he commented.

The boy moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, at age 16 to play basketball at Hamilton Heights Christian Academy. His talent led him to study in New Mexico on scholarship, and be recruited to play for the University of South Florida (USF) in 2021.

“I loved basketball; I could use my physicality, go in for the hard crash, but I would get fouled. I felt like I was missing something, more adrenaline. I watched American soccer, I didn’t fully understand it, but that wasn’t an obstacle, because when I set my mind to something I do it. The sky is the limit,” he said.

And he did it. By 2022 he was in the USF soccer program.

“They don’t call fouls here. In American soccer, as we Dominicans say ‘I was in my waters.’ That part where you can crash hard, that filled me up. The first time I played, when I put on the helmet, the shoulder pads, I understood the rules; it was incredible,” he added.

It’s hard to imagine his giant frame flooded with tears, but it happened when a few months ago he received the news that he would be part of the ‘International Player Pathway 2024’ program to make it to the NFL.

“It was crazy when they told me, I started crying because I know that with this opportunity my dream is getting closer and closer,” he said.

A dream that will only be complete if he can get his mother and grandmother to travel to the United States on the day he debuts in the league.

“My mom doesn’t understand American soccer, but she always told me that I had to be happy and to choose the path to be happy. She knows there are no obstacles for me. My mom and my grandmother are the people who have influenced me the most,” he explained.

Despite the ideal that this giant with the indelible smile lives, he does not forget his immigrant status.

“I know what it feels like to arrive in a strange country. When you emigrate it becomes difficult to adapt because we feel like we don’t belong. I do this to inspire more Latinos, to see that one of us arrived here without knowing English, with another culture and has been able to play soccer and hopefully in the NFL, that is my dream,” he concluded.


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Dominican Republic Live Editor

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