My name is Kafoumba Doumbia and I wear number 22 and play as a winger/forward for South Bronx United’s 93 Sonics travel team. I was born in the Ivory Coast and spent a large portion of my life there before briefly moving to France and then to America 18 months ago. I joined SBU almost immediately as I arrived here and my time with them has helped me a lot to get use to life in America. Being part of this team has opened me to a diversity of cultures and languages as my teammates represent 12 different nationalities and speak well around 15 languages. It has also helped me improve both my writing and speaking of English as I didn’t speak a single English word when I first came. I am a native French speaker. So basically SBU is like a family for me, it turned me from being a boy to a responsible and disciplined young man.
This spring season, the 93 Sonics were accepted and played in the Northeast Regional Premier League (NERP). This was a wonderful opportunity for my teammates and I to show our talents and abilities to teams and coaches from the region. NERP also allowed us to travel to different places in the region for games. Most of the road trips were filled with endless cheering, laughing, joking and also sleeping, especially on the way to the games. It showed me how important it’s to be a member of a travel team as it has helped me grow and expand my worldview outside of the Bronx.
The road trips often meant we were gone for an entire day and had since we were playing in four different competitions at once; we usually had a game the very next day. This proved tiring but also taught all of us the importance of maintaining fitness throughout the season. Most of the teams we played were very good and we matched up evenly in all our games. It was a great chance for us to play some of the best teams in the region and also a great way for us to represent our club and our community in a positive way.
Whether it was stopping at a diner in the middle of a small town in upstate New York or stopping at a fancy pizzeria in suburban Connecticut, our NERP adventure really opened my eyes to America. It made me aware of how Americans in different places live and in the process opened my worldview outside from the one I’ve come to know in the Bronx. As always, everything we do at SBU is connected to education and our travel to a game in Warwick, Rhode Island, we stopped by Brown University in Providence where we were given a tour of the school. It further reinforced my desire to attend college next fall and play collegiate soccer at the highest level. As I look forward to the ending of this season and the start of a newer one in the fall, I am aware of all the things I’ve learned this past spring and I am sure they will serve me well down the road.