From a school-based program in Manchester, NH for inner-city kids to the US U17 National Team in a span of just over four years, Guyllian Kabala is experiencing what most young soccer players only dream of.
Kabala was one of the starting 11 for the US U17 National Team vs. Brazil at the Nike International Friendlies in Florida early December. While training and playing for the U17 National Team, Guy had a chance to spend some time with former teammates from the Seacoast United Development Academy during the squad’s trip to participate in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. The Showcase ran concurrently with the Nike Friendlies.
After speaking with Kabala at the event, Seacoast United’s Boys Director of Coaching and U16 Academy head coach John Price had a chance to reflect on how Guy achieved the level of soccer he is at today. Price is not afraid to show how proud he is of Kabala, a boy who was first recognized while playing soccer at inner-city programs for children of immigrant families.
Opportunities In the City
Kabala’s family is from the Republic of Congo and moved to the United States when Guy very young. Upon his arrival to the U.S., Guy spoke little English. Soccer was the common language that united the boy with his new surroundings.
The “BRINGIT” program allowed Kabala, along with other children from the greater Manchester immigrant community, to play pick-up futsal on a small basketball court at the Beech Street School a few nights a week. The technical ability of these boys was remarkable, as the limited playing surface forced the players to control a ball in tight areas. The program attracted kids ages 11-18 originally from Mexico, South Korea, Ukraine, Republic of Congo, and others.
Kabala was involved with another Manchester-based program known as “INTI”, whose mission was to “Bring light to the darkest most forgotten corners of the inner city and to enable the growth of the mind, body, and spirit on Manchester’s most disadvantaged youth.” Former Seacoast United coach and now US Soccer Development Academy scout Rodrigo Marion was heavily involved with the “INTI” program, and first introduced Price to the talented Kabala.
Manchester Central High School boys’ head coach Chris Laberge played a positive role in guiding not only Kabala, but several other inner-city Manchester players to Seacoast United, and also to Jay Joseph and the NH Classics. At the time of his participation in both “BRINGIT” and “INTI”, Guy was a member of the New Hampshire Classics youth soccer club based out of Bedford, NH.
Playing at the Next Level
|Kabala with the Seacoast United U15/16 Development Academy|
Influential coaches and family members guided Guy to challenge himself at the next level. Guy’s older brother Yannick was involved with the New England Revolution’s Development Academy, and was a great source of information on the experience one would receive with the Academy program. After Guy completed his season with the NH Classics, he began attending training sessions with the Seacoast United Development Academy teams. Still undecided on whether to stay with the Classics another year and attend the USYSA ODP Regional Event or make the leap to the US Development Academy program, Guy finally chose the latter and joined Seacoast United. He instantly impressed not only his coaches but the teammates within his age group as well as the older U17/18 squad.
Kabala’s first appearances for the Seacoast United Development Academy saw opponents PDA and New York Red Bull on a road trip to New Jersey. His outstanding display caught the eye of several NCAA Division I scouts as well as US Soccer scouts attending the matches. Guy quickly adapted to the faster, more technical level of play and excelled against one of the top-tier teams in the Academy program. Over the next few months, Guy became an integral part of the Seacoast United Development Academy program and made several appearances for the U18 team as a 15 yr old. “Guy has the opportunity to become one of the best players in the Region and could one day represent his country,” commented Seacoast United Development Academy U18 and University of New Hampshire Head Coach Rob Thompson.
In March of 2011, Guy was identified to attend the U15 Boys National Training Camp in Carson, California. After his performance at the training camp, he was invited back in July, again in California at the Home Depot Center.
“Guy has an incredible future in front of him and his inclusion in the U15 Training Camp is only a testament to his enthusiastic and professional approach to training. He is 100% committed to the squad and even being the youngest member, he leads by example,” commented Price.
As part of the “Four Nations – Clubs for Young People” tournament in Newcastle, England during June of 2011, Guy and his Seacoast United teammates had to represent his club and country, as the team was outfitted with US National Team kits for the event where they would face sides from England, Scotland, and Wales. The tournament, coupled with friendly matches against SUSC’s sister club Oxford United made for a unique experience for these young footballers. The boys played against opponents in the OUFC Academy as well as the three international squads who are fiercely competing for professional contracts in the UK. Kabala again rose to the challenge in each match, adapting to the physically demanding conditions and style of play. In doing so, his performance was noted by many travelling club scouts including Premiership clubs Newcastle, Blackburn, and Second Division Carlisle United.
Identification by US Soccer
Upon his return to the United States, Guy was faced with yet another difficult decision: Return to the Seacoast United Development Academy program for the following season, or accept his recent invitation to the US Soccer Residential Program based in Bradenton, FL. The Residency Program was once home to some of the top soccer players now seen at the international level such as Freddy Adu, Landon Donovan, and Demarcus Beasley. US Soccer’s Developmental Northeast Director and former Seacoast United coach Tony Lepore had been following Guy for a couple years, expressing excitement over his progress while with Seacoast United. The invitation for the Residency Program was a result of the prior workouts with the U15 National Team as well as standout performances throughout the Academy season and at showcase events in Arizona and Texas.
Acceptance into the Residency Program would mean leaving New Hampshire for the IMG Academies campus in Bradenton. The daily routine included training in the morning under the guidance of head coach Wilmer Cabrera and assistant coaches Paul Grafer and Erik Imler. In the afternoon, players would attend classes at St. Stephens Episcopal School to further their education. Not only do players train daily under Cabrera, but they also have access to state-of-the-art IMG facilities for strength and conditioning, as well as brand new dormitories and cafeterias. This environment for the youth national teams allows them to prosper as individuals while bonding and growing as a team ahead of regional and international competition. Since its inception, more than 300 players have been through the full-time Residency Program of which 100 have then moved on to Major League Soccer or the professional leagues in Europe.
Sky is the Limit
Now an established player of the Residency Program, Kabala was selected in October for the US U17 National Team to travel to Spain where he was able to play against the national sides from Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Russia, and the host country in the 2011 Albir Garden Sports Cup. From there, the team continued to Paris to play in the Val-de-Marne tournament facing France, Peru, and the Netherlands. It was at this event where Guy scored his first international goal from the penalty spot in a 3-1 win over the Netherlands. Upon his return home to the United States, Guy was in the starting lineup for the Nike International Friendlies matches against both France and Brazil.
The staff at Seacoast United along with all of Guy’s former coaches & teammates would like to congratulate Guy on his achievements and wish him the very best in the future. Everyone in the New Hampshire soccer community can feel proud that they have played a major role in Guy’s soccer career and the sky is the limit.
For more information on the Seacoast United US Soccer Development Academy Program, please visit Seacoast United’s website at www.seacoastunited.com/Academy.