As the 2016-17 school year begins this week, we take a look at the different Vancouver Whitecaps FC players who are continuing their studies while living their pro soccer dream.
Alphonso Davies says moving to Vancouver last year was one of the best decisions of his life.
And it almost didn’t happen.
Not because he didn’t want it to – and not because his parents didn’t think it was a good opportunity. Rather, they didn’t want Davies to lose sight of his studies.
After all, he’s only 15 years old.
And part of the reason they moved from Ghana, to Ontario, and eventually Edmonton, was so that Davies and his siblings could get a better education.
“My parents never really went to school as kids, so they want me to get the education they never got,” Davies said. “Also, they really want me to get an education because playing soccer can end at any time. Tomorrow I could go play and if something happens, I need something to fall back on.”
At first, Davies said his mom was a bit “hesitant” about his move to Vancouver. But once she learned more about the Whitecaps FC Residency program, and the fact it includes a full-time schooling component, the decision became easier.
All Whitecaps FC Residency players attend Burnaby Central Secondary School. They go to class in the morning and train in the afternoon at the nearby Burnaby Lake 8-Rinks Sports Complex as part of the school’s elite athlete program.
“My mom likes to keep track of my school,” Davies said. “She was worried that if I come here, I might lose track and get distracted on playing and not focusing on school as much.”
“Then they realized that everybody else goes to school as well,” he continued. “If I need help, I tell them. If they see my grades are slipping, there are consequences. Once she found that out, she got more comfortable with it and agreed.”
It’s been a whirlwind for Davies ever since.
After impressing with the Residency teams, Davies signed his first professional contract with WFC2 in February. From there, he started to get some opportunities with the first team, and eventually made his first start with the club on June 8 in a 3-0 win over Ottawa Fury FC in the Amway Canadian Championship semifinals.
Before and after the game, he was at home studying. He had a science test the next morning. Abiotic and biotic factors. Science is actually Davies’ favourite subject.
“I like chemistry,” said Davies, who wanted to be a pilot when he was younger. “Especially testing different chemicals and putting different elements together.”
Now that Davies is a member of the first team – the youngest player in MLS, in fact – he’ll be taking most of his classes online, though he’ll also have a private tutor helping him out.
Not to mention all his other “tutors” within the club.
“They tell me to study, do my homework early, and not wait to the last minute,” Davies said. “I’m really happy that the club helps me balance soccer and school.”
So too are his parents.
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