Get used to hearing the name Jeremy Monn-Djasngar. He might be playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps one day.
The Smithers youth is off to train with the Whitecaps Northern Academy in Prince George this season after an early summer tryout led to an invitation by the club.
“I was very excited to make it through the camp,” said Monn-Djasngar. “It was a tough tryout. If a person didn’t do well, or didn’t give 100 per cent, they would take them off the field and bring in another player.”
Monn-Djasngar found out he had made it right after the camp ended, which gave him some time to talk things over with his family and make sure moving four hours east was the right thing to do.
In the end, it was an easy decision for Monn-Djasngar, whose passion for the game of soccer trumps any impediments he may find along the way.
Fortunately, the Monn-Djasngars have family in Prince George, so he will stay with an aunt and attend Grade 10 classes at College Heights Senior Secondary.
He’ll train twice a week with the Northern Academy while playing club football for a local league and for the high school.
The Whitecaps Northern Academy will provide supplemental practice in a professional environment, with a curriculum that covers all aspects of training, from technical development, to strength and conditioning to nutrition.
“He showed extremely well,” regional head coach Sonny Pawar said.
“He is an excellent athlete, he moves confidently and he has an excellent touch on the soccer ball. He had no problems fitting right in with the other elite players in his age group.”
In addition to his skills, the coaching staff loved Monn-Djasngar’s attitude and his passion.
“He is a terrific young man,” Pawar said. “I know he really loves the sport. His enthusiasm really showed up in the training sessions, so we are really happy to have him as a part of our program.”
For Monn-Djasngar it’s recognition of a lifetime of playing the sport he loves. His first memories of the sport come from Senegal, his place of birth. It was there that a Brazilian missionary organized games for youth to raise money for kids on the streets.
When he was seven, Monn-Djasngar moved to Smithers, but he never stopped playing soccer. Now, he’s getting better every year, and, at 14 years old, he recognizes he could have a future in the sport he loves.
“Ultimately, I would like to get into the Whitecaps resident program, if God wills it. And then go over to play in Europe and then play for Canada in the World Cup.”
Next Monn-Djasngar will try to catch the eye of one of the Whitecaps residency scouts, who make periodic visits up north to check on the players in the program.
If they like what they see, they will invite a player down to Vancouver to train with the residency team for a weekend.
If Monn-Djasngar excels at this level, he could find himself down in Vancouver training with the U-14 team.
He is the first Smithers resident to make it in to the Northern Academy, but this is only its first full season of operation.
Head coach Sonny Pawar said he expects there to be others.
“We are really excited about this program and we hope that everyone knows it’s not just a regional program – it’s for everyone in the north. Eventually, once we have everything in place, we plan to make scouting trips to various towns in the region.”
In total, the Whitecaps have six academies across B.C. and western Canada. These programs act as feeders for the residency program, which in turn feeds the first team.
Last year the residency program grew from the previous squad of 25 players in the U-17 to U-19 age range to teams in the U-14, U-16, and U-18 categories. With this expansion, the program is now comprised of 65 of the top players from across British Columbia and Canada.
Aspiring players can now enter the Whitecaps FC system at 13 years of age.