From war-torn Liberia to Edmonton, young soccer player selected for Canada’s U-20 team

Click to play video: 'From civil war in Liberia to Canada’s U-20 soccer team' From civil war in Liberia to Canada’s U-20 soccer team
WATCH ABOVE: He isn't old enough to drive yet but an Edmonton teenager is making waves in the soccer world. Alphonso Davies has been selected for Canada's U-20 soccer team, but his story starts in war-torn Liberia. Julia Wong explains – Mar 25, 2016

A young Edmonton soccer player is making waves after being picked for Canada’s U-20 team at the tender age of 15. His journey starts on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and is nothing short of remarkable.

Alphonso Davies grew up watching his brother and father play soccer and felt the itch to participate.

“Watching them when I was growing up, I really wanted to play,” he said.

He began training with the St. Nicholas Soccer Academy and it was clear to his former coach that he was special.

“He’s got unbelievable skill and speed,” soccer academy director Marco Bossio said.

“Right off the bat, he was something special for sure. He was remarkable with his feet. He can shoot from a distance. He’s a phenomenal player.”

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Alphonso trained with the soccer academy for three years from Grade 7 to Grade 9 then was recruited to play with the Vancouver Whitecaps USL team. He has been playing with them for six months.

“It’s a very good experience. Me coming in and trying to fit in, it’s going to be difficult, but I’m glad that I’m getting it done,” he said.

There are several other players on the team who are around Alphonso’s age. The majority are older than him but Alphonso said that isn’t nerve-racking.

“Once you’re on the field, everybody is the same age. If you have the ability to play, you’re all equal to play,” he said.

“You just gotta dig deep, gotta believe in yourself.”

And he turned out to be right: one day when Alphonso was training, the team’s technical director informed him he had made the U-20 team.

“It was a big surprise to me,” he said.

Bossio said the selection of a 15-year-old for the team, where most players are closer to 18 and 19 years old, is significant.

“The U-20 national team has selected the top talent in Canada. They chose Alphonso, even though he’s 15. They wanted to give him that experience with the U-20 program. That’s very, very rare and very special,” he said.

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Alphonso’s soccer experience is remarkable on its own but even more so when his personal story comes to light.

The soccer player was born in Liberia as the country was in the midst of a civil war.

“I was really young. I can’t remember anything,” he said.

“We managed to get out. We went to Ghana in a refugee camp. Then…we managed to get out of there, get to Toronto and come to Edmonton.”

Alphonso can’t remember many details but said it was a trying period for his family.

“It was a really tough journey. We went through a lot,” he said.

Upon arriving in Edmonton, Alphonso said his family wanted to settle into a comfortable life.

“We all just thought ‘move here, go to school, get an education’ but I started playing soccer and I started to develop a love for the game,” he said.

Alphonso’s talent for the game is clear but he said his mother still wants him to focus on getting his education.

“They’re really excited for me. They’re really happy. But my mom is telling me education is first. You don’t know — soccer can end tomorrow, it can end today,” he said.

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But Alphonso’s his sights are set on something big.

“If I keep performing and keep putting in the work, I can really see myself excelling to the next level,” he said.

“My goal is to play the highest that I can play [like] national team or overseas.”

Alphonso is currently playing in the U-20 international camp in England and returns on Monday.

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