Giovani Bejarano Navia
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    Medellin, Colombia
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    185 lbs
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From the streets of Colombia to the fields of Charlotte, Giovani Bejarano and Stumptown Athletic Coach Mark Steffens have history. They first met nearly 10 years ago, when Steffens and the Charlotte Eagles visited Medellin, Colombia, where Gio played for the Corporación Social Y Deportivas de Colombia or COSDECOL, a non-profit corporation that aims to use soccer to bring Christ to children who are living in dangerous and poor communities. The COSDECOL team played the Eagles, and Gio remembers Steffens as a coach. Years later, Gio played for the Charlotte Eagles, again crossing paths with Steffens. And today, he’s playing for Steffens as a member of the first Stumptown Athletic team.

Bejarano comes to Stumptown Athletic with strong defender skills, learned at a young age in his home country of Colombia, then polished here in the U.S. at Carroll Christian School in Maryland, where he led the team to a pair of NACA national tournament appearances and earned All State and All-American status, as well as All-State MVP – twice. He earned a full scholarship to John Brown University in Arkansas, where he started in nearly all games and was named the regional defensive player. Gio also played for the USL2 Charlotte Eagles in 2016 and 2017 and the NPSL Ozark FC in 2018. Gio is married; he and his wife, Claire, have a two-year-old son, Isiah.

When did you start playing soccer?

I grew up in one of the worst parts of Colombia, where it’s really dangerous because of the drugs and gangs. A lot of my friends and the kids I grew up with joined gangs – they make it easy and inviting to walk right in and earn money. It was just my sister, my mother and me, and my mom wanted to get me away from that, so I started playing soccer when I was three.

My mom kept me really busy with soccer and martial arts, and we went to church every Sunday and Wednesday. She wanted me to be safe, so if I wasn’t playing soccer or at school, I had to stay inside the house. I thought she was my enemy sometimes because of that, but now I’m thankful for her and everything I do is with her in my mind.

When did your soccer career take off?

When I was 14, I joined the COSDECOL soccer club. They really started molding me and building strong football skills. When I was 15, I was going to play in Sweden, but my mom thought it was too far to go. I was then up for a professional contract in Colombia, but she really wanted me to move to the United States, because Colombia is so dangerous.

The soccer club sends some players to live in Sweden, Brazil and the U.S., and I was blessed to come here when I was 16. I got a scholarship to attend Carroll Christian School in Maryland. I’d finished high school in Colombia, but I enrolled again here for two years to play for the team and to learn English.

I then received a full scholarship to John Brown University in Arkansas, where I played soccer and majored in business administration.

When did you know you wanted to play professional soccer?

When I was 11, and saw the poverty around me. I knew I wanted to get out and do more, and I worked hard.

A local gang almost killed me when I was 14. Almost all my friends were involved with gangs or something criminal, and an incident happened in a casino near my house. We ran, but the gang caught one of my friends and broke his legs. They knew where I lived, and they came to my house, pushed inside and threatened my life, telling my mother they didn’t want to see me on the street again. I think they spared me because some of my friends were in the gang and they saw that I could have a different future.

What made you sign with Stumptown Athletic?

I got other offers, but Coach Mark has a reputation of really caring about his players as people as well as how they play on the field. It’s important to me to be treated fairly as a player and not just as an object, and he encourages his players to be good people and good players, and that impressed me a lot.

It was still a hard decision, because my wife and son are still in Arkansas for a few months. My mom was a single mom, and I didn’t want my wife to be a single mom, even for a short time. But my wife is way stronger than I am and she encouraged me to take the opportunity.

What should fans know about you?

I am so happy to be here. You dream of being a pro soccer player since you can remember, so when you are finally able to make it, it’s a big blessing.

Off the field, I like to joke around and I am a funny guy. On the field, I’m very aggressive and demanding and I have very high standards for myself and those around me.


Year Team GP GS SI SO Min G A Sh Y R
2021 Stumptown AC 9 9 0 0 810 0 0 2 1 0
2020 Stumptown Athletic 2 2 0 0 180 0 1 0 0 0
2019 Stumptown Athletic 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 11 11 0 0 990 0 1 2 1 0


Year Team GP GS SI SO Min G A Sh Y R
TOTAL 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0


Date Type Match Result Appear Min G A Sh Y R
06/19/2021 Regular Season CFC v SAC W 0 - 1 Start 90 0 0 1 0 0
06/15/2021 Regular Season SAC v CALUTD D 1 - 1 Start 90 0 0 0 0 0
06/05/2021 Regular Season DCFC v SAC D 0 - 0 Start 90 0 0 0 0 0
05/14/2021 Regular Season NAFC v SAC W 0 - 1 Start 90 0 0 0 0 0
05/12/2021 Regular Season SAC v LA L 0 - 1 Start 90 0 0 0 0 0
05/08/2021 Regular Season MBFC v SAC W 1 - 2 Start 90 0 0 0 1 0
04/22/2021 Regular Season SAC v NAFC W 1 - 0 Start 90 0 0 0 0 0
04/19/2021 Regular Season SAC v CALUTD D 1 - 1 Start 90 0 0 0 0 0
04/16/2021 Regular Season DCFC v SAC L 2 - 0 Start 90 0 0 1 0 0
03/06/2020 Regular Season LA v STP D 1 - 1 Start 90 0 1 0 0 0
02/29/2020 Regular Season STP v 1904 D 2 - 2 Start 90 0 0 0 0 0