Omar Martinez has been a Project Manager at Lewis for nearly five years on the Retail Construction team, where he’s played a pivotal role in the construction of multiple retail centers. He’s become a master of budgeting, scheduling, and building—his own personal hat trick. Beyond his impressive background in Civil Engineering with a Master’s in Construction Management, he’s a dedicated soccer fan with a rich history in playing and impressive stats as a spectator. We caught up with him to learn more about how he got into the sport and the great lengths he’s gone to show his commitment.
How did you get into soccer?
Omar: I started following soccer as a kid when my dad would watch it on TV and then when I played in AYSO teams. I played in High School and then in club teams in college and most recent (prior to Covid) in adult leagues.
Who’s your favorite team and why?
Omar: My favorite team is Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC). Although a relatively new club (founded in 2014), I followed the team since inception. The atmosphere at games is awesome.
How many world cups have you been to, and how would you describe the experience?
Omar: I have been to three World Cup tournaments. The first one I attended was back in 2006 in Germany. The next one was in 2014 in Brazil and most recently the last World Cup in Russia in 2018. The tournaments are awesome depending on when you plan to attend. The World Cup is usually a month long in the summer so unless you plan to go for the whole month you get a different experience. Going at the beginning of the tournament is my favorite because you get to see fans from more countries. Each country brings a different type of fan to the venues and the cities that are hosting. Maybe I am not as interested in the final stages since the US and Mexico typically do not make it that far in the tournament.
I also like to take opportunities in those trips to learn a little bit of the culture and explore the architecture. I love good food and beer and there is always a plethora of that in these tournaments.
Do you have a favorite game you’ve watched?
Omar: There have been several games that make my top 10 list but the one that stands out the most is the game I got to witness live in Moscow. Mexico faced Germany (defending champs) in the same venue where the World Cup final was hosted in 2018. The game ended in a 1-0 victory for Mexico, so the stadium went nuts when the only goal of the match was scored.
What’s your craziest soccer story?
Omar: I wouldn’t consider the story crazy but more of an eye opener. When I went on a boys’ trip to watch an English Premiere League (EPL) match in London we watched what is called the North London Derby. The game was played at a neutral site, so police escorted fans out of the stadium. When my friends and I exited the game, our group of 10 got reduced to small groups of 2-3. The police escorted fans and I found myself in the middle of the crowd. At the time it felt like I was in the middle of a riot. Some unruly fans were being clubbed for not moving along and exiting quickly enough. I was there as a soccer fan but the passion that those local fans showed was akin to the most diehard NFL fan you might know (and there were hundreds of them).
Do your kids play soccer and have the same love of the game that you do?
Omar: All my 4 young kids play soccer. Some like it and others don’t like it as much as I would like but I do not want to push any of them to the point where they are going to hate the game. I got to coach my two oldest kids (on separate teams) and that was an experience that I hope to replicate when I coach the two youngest kids. When coaching I try and take the same approach and try to let them have fun. Maybe once they are a bit older and if they still like playing soccer, I will get in a more competitive spirit.
What are your future soccer plans?
Omar: The upcoming World Cup next year is in Qatar, which I am now contemplating on attending if this pandemic allows us to get back to some sort of normalcy. The following one in 2026 is a sure thing since we will be co-hosting with Mexico and Canada.
It’s no surprise that Omar’s goal-setting on the field has set him up for success in the office. If you, too, are a soccer hooligan like Omar, feel free to submit your favorite photo or story to firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear from you!