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Interview #42- Kwame Awuah
Kwame Awuah is a Canadian professional soccer player currently signed to Forge FC of the Canadian Premier League (CPL). Growing up in Ontario, Awuah played for Sigma FC in the prestigious League1 Ontario. While playing for the Sigma senior side, he also played college soccer at the University of Connecticut. At UConn, Awuah excelled, winning many individual awards and it was all good enough for him to be drafted by New York City FC in 2017. After two years at NYCFC, the Canadian midfielder moved to his current club, Forge FC, where has been an integral piece in the squad. Last season, Awuah and five others across the league all tied for the most assists in the league.
1. Growing up in Canada, what was your youth career like?
I grew up playing in the El Popular Spanish Futsal League when I was 4 years old. Continued playing there for years, meanwhile still playing rep soccer for teams like Uruguay 95, Woodbridge Strikers, and Ontario Provincial team. At the age of 14/15 i went to play for Sigma FC academy.
2. How were you recruited by the University of Connecticut?
I was recruited to UConn from playing in numerous showcases such as the Potomac in Maryland, Score on the Shore in NC and our very own Sigma Showcase. Sigma showcase is where I officially came in contact with UConn and knew it was the place for me.
3. How was your time at UConn? What did your experience there teach you?
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UConn. I made numerous friends and played/started every single game possible. And won a couple rings and individual awards. But most importantly I became a better player and person. I was able to network outside of soccer and express and grow my interests in other fields. Some of my best friends are from college as well. Overall great experience that I will cherish for a lifetime
4. While at UConn, you also played for Sigma FC in League1 Ontario, how was the level of play compared to NCAA?
League1 Ontario was a great platform for me because it helped me to stay fit/play games consistently so i can always stay sharp going into my college season. Compared to NCAA the intensity and pressure wasn’t as much but that was partially because i didn’t stay the full League 1 season. Nonetheless without League1, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
5. After a great college career, you were drafted 16th overall by NYCFC in the MLS SuperDraft. How were you feeling after this moment?
The draft was a dream come true and I was able to finally see all my hard work pay off from when I was a toddler playing club soccer up to then. To get selected by such a huge club in NYCFC it really brought joy to my family and I!
6. What’s your biggest piece of advice for college players looking to take their game to the next level?
My biggest advice to college players trying to make it to the next level is: To take advantage of every opportunity you’re on the field. Focus and try and better yourself as a player and as a professional. At the next level it is important to be focused and ready to compete day in and day out.
7. What was it like to finally make your professional debut against Atlanta United in 2017?
Making my professional debut was another milestone in my career. The feeling of playing in front of the NYCFC was amazing and i think the most important thing was soaking up the moment and not settling and continue to be hungry for more opportunities.
8. After two seasons at NYCFC, you were released, what are you thinking after this happened?
After two seasons at NYCFC I left and yes I was disappointed because I didn't leave my mark there like I thought I could on the field. But I took it as a learning opportunity to continue to pursue my goal to reach higher levels of football. Even if it meant taking a step back to take multiple forward.
9. You signed your second professional contract for Forge FC, how did this opportunity come about?
Signing for Forge FC was a no brainer. The opportunity arose when I was speaking to my old academy coach after my departure from NYCFC. He told me he believed I can bring a lot to the new canadian league and would be good for me to maximize my potential by playing more games. And after that i never second guessed.
10. What’s your biggest tip for players working to become pro?
Biggest tip for those trying to become pro: Is that never feel discouraged, always believe in your abilities and hard work and dedication goes a long way. Hard work definitely beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Last but not least don’t forget to have fun, we all play this game for the joy. Yes it becomes a job but it’s a job we all love.
11. How has your time in Canada been with Forge FC?
My time at Forge Fc has been an amazing time. It became a place where I was able to get back to my best and enjoy football again. We ended up winning the championship and it felt good to win something and experience it with people I grew up with.
12. Who’s your biggest role model?
My biggest role models are my parents. They have done everything for me and I still continue to pay them back and appreciate them with my hardwork and ambition. They are the most important people in my life. And I was able to see them struggle and succeed so it motivates me.
13. What are your goals outside of soccer?
My goals outside of soccer are to be on television, or public speaking, something that has to do with meeting people and have in-depth conversations, create some humorous content, anything that brightens up peoples day, educates, and or catches their attention. I also want to create my own brand, not sure exactly what kind but that’s something I'm looking forward to.
14. Who’s the greatest player you’ve ever played against?
Greatest player I've ever played against is Andrea Pirlo in training at NYCFC. On another team it was Jonathan Dos Santos.
15. What’s your greatest strength?
My greatest strength is my outgoing personality and ability to adapt in any situation
16. What’s your greatest weakness?
My greatest weakness is my bluntness
17. How do you stay positive in tough times?
I stay positive through tough times because I always remind myself that I should only focus on the things I can control. And once i am doing things to the best of my ability then i will let the universe take its course.
18. Any last words for the readers?
I love to play football and I love watching people enjoy the game. Although football is my life, we should never lose sight of things that we cherish the most. Be happy with yourself with people that are happy with and for YOU!
Big thanks to Kwame for the amazing interview! Best of luck this season!
photo via https://www.facebook.com/Kwame-Awuah
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