Watching his first professional soccer game on TV was a formative moment in Aaron Mulama’s life, and he can recall his response in vivid detail.
“It was Manchester United and Chelsea, and it was a good game” he said. “When I saw those professional players playing, I said, ‘I’m going to be there one day.'”
Mulama has carried that dream of playing pro soccer from his homeland of Kenya to Abbotsford, where he moved with his family at the age of eight.
The 14-year-old recently took a big step towards that goal, as he earned an invitation to join the full-time pre-residency academy with Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer (MLS). The program brings elite youngsters together to train in Burnaby.
Mulama, a left midfielder, is the first Magnuson Ford Mariners FC player to land a spot in the Whitecaps system since the launch of the EA Sports B.C. Soccer Premier League in 2011, and Mariners technical director Ian Knight said it’s a well-deserved honour.
“We’re delighted for Aaron and delighted for the program, and we hope he’s the first of many to follow,” Knight said.
“He applies himself in every practice session and every game, and I think it’s that consistency that’s finally starting to come through, and he’s been recognized for that. He’s a fine athletic specimen – he’s got great speed and a good left foot, which is something that’s always of interest at the next level, because there’s not too many of those around.”
Mulama, while excited about drawing the Whitecaps’ attention, noted that this is just a starting point.
“It’s an honour to be in the Whitecaps program right now, but it’s my first step in the process,” he said. “I have to work harder to be in the MLS first team one day.”