Pelham footballer Antonio Furtado adds kick to football team – Lowell Sun
If you ask Tony Furtado just about anything, it all comes down to one word: family.
Furtado is a former Pelham High football player at Pelham High and 18 years after playing for the Pythons for the last time, he is in his first year coaching the same program he previously played for. And while he’s enjoying his new contract, one of his star players is his son, Antonio, a junior who can play any position on the pitch but is primarily a defensive back.
Besides playing soccer, Antonio also decided he wanted to try something new this season: playing soccer. He is currently the college team usher, making 12 of 13 PATs in the first two games of the season, missing the game due to a conflict with a football game.
For the elder Furtado, staying on the sidelines was an opportunity he didn’t want to pass up.
“I wanted to bring a new culture here,” said Tony, who has worked in restaurants all his life and bought Scola’s from Dracut six years ago with his wife, Brenda. “Not necessarily a winning culture, but a positive culture where you can go out (in the field) and be confident.”
Beginning his football days at the Portuguese American Center Football Club in Lowell, Tony eventually began coaching youth, first in Pelham before the family moved to Peabody for six years before returning to Pelham. While at Peabody, Brenda was on the Youth Soccer Board of Directors and Tony coached with the Boys Travel Teams with Antonio as one of his players.
Once the family returned to New Hampshire, Antonio – now in his third season with the Pythons – became more involved playing for various club teams, including Seacoast.
“Antonio can play anywhere on the pitch, right-back, left-back, center-back and so far this season he’s played it all,” said Tony, who also has two daughters, PHS l graduate Dahlia. ‘last year and is at Curry College and Bella, who is a freshman on the PHS girls’ soccer team. “He’s a hard worker, he’s a great team player and he just works his butt. He has an excellent shot, he is a great player and a good boy. He does everything for the team. I’m not saying that because he’s my son, I can talk about all the kids. If he wasn’t my son, I would say so anyway.
While Antonio joked that his dad “yells at him a lot”, he said the atmosphere was far better than it was last year when the team were 0. -6 during the abbreviated COVID season.
“We are being pushed a lot harder and we have a much better team this year,” said Antonio. “He’s coached me pretty much all of my youth football years. It’s the same and it’s like having a regular trainer.
As Antonio was preparing for this football season, he was approached by Dahlia’s boyfriend, Justin Roche, with an idea.
“Justin asked me if I wanted to play (soccer) and I said ‘sure, why not?’ Antonio said. “I went out for the team and so far everything has gone well.”
After Antonio agreed to play over the summer, he figured he would see if he could become the team’s spot kicker.
“I think I hit maybe 12 through the posts,” he said. “I missed the first one, so he told me to take three steps back and move to the left. Then I started hitting them successfully. You feel like you’re kicking a soccer ball, but you just have to kick it in a different way. You have to shoot more for the PATs then the kickoffs you have to get through and a little harder.
His success came as a surprise to many, including veteran coach Tom Babaian.
“Antonio has been an important addition to our team,” said Babaian. “He’s connected for 12 of the 13 PATs and his kickoffs have been very consistent. He has represented himself very well as a student-athlete and we are more than happy to have him.
The football team started with a 3-0 start, which includes the teams that dominated 154-21.
“It’s amazing (what Antonio is doing),” Tony said. “Coach Babaian was the coach when I was here as a student. He was the best and still is the best. He has always been such a good role model for me as a student. You would go to him to do weightlifting and Antonio is doing it now. The coach is simply a great mentor.
On the football field, the Pythons are 2-5 and while the record may not be where he wants it, Tony has said he’s having a blast.
“It’s very nice (to coach Antonio) and I treat him the same way I treat all children,” he added. “They’re all like extended family to me, so it’s not like I’m just focusing on him. That’s not what I’m here for. I’m here for the team.
“We are a family.”