Player: Kobort Koffa
Born in Liberia, Kobort Koffa grew up within and around the beautiful game. It was the way life in his childhood. It has taken him all around the world where, it has heightened his love of soccer.
Taking the opportunity in 2010, he was scouted from Africa to play college soccer in the United States. His collegiate career took place at Malone and USC Aiken, where he played until 2013.
In 2013, his professional days began in Europe. "African Dos," his nickname, has had the chance to play in Turkey, Sweden and Denmark for professional clubs. Kobort operates primarily as a center forward but has the versatility to play on the left and right wings or as an attacking mid.
Recently in June, Koffa was also called up to play with the Liberian national team. As he would describe it, it has been a "childhood dream" come true. Here are 18 questions with our new featured player Kobort Koffa!
How old are you?
How did you get into soccer?
Soccer is the national sport for my country Liberia, and I watched Arsenal play as a kid and Thierry Henry fascinated me which made me want to become a soccer player. Born and raised in poverty (in a third world country), my skills playing soccer were a key to a better future.
What's one skill you think every player needs to cultivate?
Every player needs to find his strength and use it. Good players work with what they have and can control it to become more efficient in beating their weaknesses. Every player has his own unique ability and it's important knowing as a player that it's best to control what you have than what you don't have.
Who were your soccer heroes growing up?
Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto'o and George Weah.
What was the moment you knew you wanted to play professionally?
Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to one day be on the levels of my idols so that's one reason I kept working harder and harder at it, but I realized that my dreams of becoming a pro were within reach when I first got a full ride soccer scholarship from Africa to play in the USA and then another full ride transfer from Malone to USC Aiken.
What do you think about the developmental system in the U.S.? Do you think it can be improved?
Soccer is still a new sport in the USA as compared to other countries, but I think US soccer needs to invest more in youth programs- summer camps are good but should not be the only way forward for kids looking to play through college and eventually professionally. Soccer is a year round conditioning, training, practicing and development game that requires discipline to improve. I think the modern soccer is more about the present and the future, such as what can a player do now, and how will he fit in going forward. I think the publicity has been good so far — bringing in world class names like Drogba, Kaka, Pirlo and Beckham (which is the now moment for publicity and so) but the US soccer has to also invest more in the developmental programs.
How did people start calling you "African Dos"?
I guess it started when others started saying whatever other players can do, African does it too and the German guy who gave the name then said the speed was remarkable so he branded me "African-Dos" lol and fans kept on with the name and its stuck now I guess.
What was it like being called up to your national team?
A childhood dream come true, actually. It's every player's dream to represent your country. And I'm looking forward to honoring and seeing what God's plans are.
What would it mean to you and Liberia to qualify for the African Cup of Nations?
Liberians would be ecstatic, and I'm sure it would be a huge honor and accomplishment for the country to finally rise from the terror of the civil war and unite in the name of THE BEAUTIFUL GAME on the biggest stage of African soccer
What is your greatest moment on the pitch?
Scoring my debut goal for the Danish club I played for last season "Svebolle BI" to reduce the score to 2-1 before the half hour mark. It wasn't about the personal achievement but the fact that the goal was the club's first home goal in over 15 games and my first goal since joining the club to help the club fight relegation. It brought some hope to the fans and it was a special moment for me.
What is your worst moment on the pitch?
Sustained an ankle injury right before the season started with the Rochester RiverDogz FC. The moment I twisted my ankle, I felt something had gone wrong immediately. The injury ruled me out for months and it sucked not being able to play, and help out. Injuries are definitely a player's worst nightmare!
How did you get past that moment?
After the injury, I could feel the mixed feelings from people on my team that I expected to be supportive who weren't... The injury helped me appreciate playing the game. It helped me build as both an individual and as a player. I learned to deal with the hard part of the game, and work through difficulties to regain my form and be back playing again.
What is your biggest strength on the pitch?
Speed and physical presence. When I'm on the pitch, I don't want to be just an average player. I want my presence felt. I want to be an impact; that is why I do the hard work off the pitch so that I can be better on it.
What music do you listen to before games?
Usually I listen to some African hits by "DJ Arafat" from the Ivory Coast or some Christian musicians.
Where does your motivation come from when you are playing?
I guess I feel motivated to achieve a million when I'm given one. I usually feel very positive that if I do great every moment I am on the pitch that I can improve and go further.
What do you value most in your teammates?
The passion and desire to want to win, and being united as a team by working for each other.
What other sports and activities do you enjoy when you're not playing soccer?
I love spending time with my family, going to church, working out, and listening to music when I need to meditate.
Where will we see Kobort Koffa in five years?
God knows best and holds the future, but so far I feel like my career is making progress — and with the work I am putting in I am hoping to be in the top leagues in Europe by then.