Dream comes true for young Reds refugee

Adelaide United FC is set to unveil the youngest player to ever grace the Hyundai A-League when the Reds take on Gold Coast United.

Adelaide United FC is set to field the youngest player to ever grace the Hyundai A-League, after confirming 15 year old Liberian refugee Teeboy Kamara has been included in the Reds- squad to take on Gold Coast United tomorrow night.

At 15 years and 212 days, Teeboy will become the youngest player to play in the Hyundai A-League if he comes on against Gold Coast United, surpassing James Virgili, who made his debut at 16 years and 180 days for the Newcastle Jets against the Wellington Phoenix on January 4, 2009.

A member of the Reds- National Youth League squad, Teeboy-s selection on the bench for the senior team caps off a remarkable story and journey of a teenager born to Liberian parents who found a haven in Adelaide.

Reds Head Coach Rini Coolen revealed the news to Teeboy after training this morning, an announcement the attacking midfielder had to pinch himself to believe.

“I found out after training this morning. He (Coolen) called me aside and said, ‘Teeboy you-re in the squad-, and I was like ‘in the Youth Team squad?- and he said ‘no, the first team- and I was like ‘wow-,” Teeboy recalls of the moment.

“Rini said that I-ve impressed so I deserve it.”

“It feels like just yesterday I was playing soccer in the backyard and at the park with my mates in Salisbury kicking the ball around and going to watch the A-League and thinking, ‘whoa, these guys are freaks, am I ever going to be here-.”

“I remember not even dreaming of being on TV or playing for a club like Adelaide United in a competition like the Hyundai A-Leagu.”

“So to be this young and have the chance to make my debut, I can-t wait and I want to make sure I prove to Rini and the people at Adelaide United that I-m good enough to play in the A-League.”

Adelaide United Youth Coach Michael Valkanis, who has spent a large amount of time with Teeboy overseeing his development, says his selection does not come as a surprise and says a lot of the club-s youth set up.

“It-s not a surprise to the coaching staff because he (Teeboy) has been working very hard with the Youth Team, he-s been playing very well for the Youth Team and he-s shown he has got some qualities that will one day make him into a very good player,” Valkanis said.

“Rini has watched him quite a few times and obviously a number of the youth boys go up and train with the senior team, so he has a close eye on them and he has seen how Teeboy has dominated in lot of the National Youth League games with his hard work and now he has been given an opportunity.”

“It just goes to show Adelaide United-s commitment to giving opportunities to not only a South Australian boy, but a young player and that-s a credit to Rini believing in a young talent.”

“We saw qualities in him that we could use off the bench and we discussed whether it-s too early, whether it-s the right time. You-d probably like to bring in a youngster when things are going really well at a club, but we-ve got a feeling that it is a good time where could come off the bench and use those qualities to help the senior team.”

“Regardless of his age, I think he is physically capable, he shows that at training with the senior boys, mature-wise he-s got a good football brain, he keeps it simple, he-s very quick and he understands what has to be done.”

“Rini is of the belief that age doesn-t really matter, if you-re good enough you-ll get an opportunity and I don-t think he-ll be afraid to throw him on when the time is right.”

Due to civil unrest in Liberia, Teeboy left for Australia at the age of six with his mother and older brother and sister. Forced to forge a life for themselves in a new country, Teeboy-s family made Adelaide their home, a young Teeboy using football, which he had been introduced to by his father who was a goalkeeper in Liberia, as an enjoyable way to integrate into the local community, and from there he quickly started to make his mark on the field.

Teeboy was recognised by the South Australian Sports Institute-s football program before being invited to the AIS in Canberra and one thing led to another as he was selected as the youngest member of the Qantas Joeys squad for the Under 17 World Cup earlier this year in Mexico.

Following the tournament he returned to Adelaide after hearing his mother was in hospital but sadly, she passed away soon after. Living with his 21 year old brother and 17 year old sister, rather than dwelling on the loss of his mother, Teeboy-s perspective is one of hope and living out the dream that his family had given him the opportunity to live out.

“I had two options. I could have thought to myself that my mum has passed away so stuff soccer, stuff life, I still want my mum…and the other option was to look at it like mum has passed away but she-s probably still looking at me, she loved me playing soccer and what-s the point of stopping now because she already put me half way there,” Teeboy said.

“Adelaide United has been great to me, everyone has been so friendly and it almost feels like mum hasn-t passed away, I-m still happy and glad I did it. I-ve still got a long way to go but I-m getting there.”

Teeboy admits there will be butterflies in his stomach if he makes it onto the field tomorrow night, but he is confident he can justify his selection and the faith Coolen has in him.

“I was feeling nervous straight after he (Coolen) told me…hopefully if I come on we-re winning 5-0, but if I do come on, obviously the first 30 seconds is going to be nervous, I just want to get a first touch, but the guys have been encouraging me so much that I won-t be thinking about it,” Teeboy said.

Despite having not seen his father for eight or nine years, Teeboy keeps in regular touch with him and could not wait to tell him the news.

“I-ll definitely call him when I get home, he-ll be buzzing,” Teeboy said.

Suddenly, tomorrow night-s game against Gold Coast has got an added element of excitement about it.

NAME: Teeboy Kamara DOB: 18-May-1996 PLACE OF BIRTH: Sierra Leone POSITION: Attacking midfielder HEIGHT: 169cm WEIGHT: 70kg