USLSoccer.com Staff Report
Friday, March 4, 2016
MONTREAL – The journey from war-torn Sudan to Montreal was a long, and at times dangerous, one for FC Montreal defender Nevello Yoseke.
“When I left Sudan, I was really young. I don’t remember everything, but my mother told me,” Yoseke told ImpactMontreal.com’s Raphael Larocque-Cyr. “I was with my two brothers and two sisters and with my mom. I lost my dad in the war.”
According to United Nations estimates, the conflict has seen 300,000 people killed, and up to three million people displaced. Yoseke and his family were among those who fled the conflict, moving north to Egypt where they were housed in a refugee camp that saw cramped conditions, and danger.
For Yoseke and other refugees, that danger escalated when the Egyptian National Team would play against other African nations.
“If Egypt won, it was fine,” he told Larocque-Cyr. “But if the other African team won, it was becoming dangerous for us.
“Once, my mom sent me to buy bread and another African team had just won. Three guys came from behind and started insulting me. You can never answer back. When I left the store, two of them had huge butcher knives. It was the scariest day of my life. I was with my friend and I just ran non-stop. I don’t want to think of what would have happened if they caught us.”
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Living the harsh life of a refugee, one of the few areas where Yoseke found joy was in soccer. He and his friends would make-do with a ball made of socks to play in the streets, and Yoseke would hide in the back of bars to try and watch games on television.
When, after a seven-year-wait, Yoseke’s family found a sponsor in Ottawa to bring them to a new life in Canada, the skills he had found on the streets proved useful as he adapted to his new environment. In a school where Arabic was a common language, Yoseke worked hard to learn English.
If there was one place where language proved less of an obstacle, though, it was on the soccer field. For the first time, Yoseke had a place that could provide structure to the ability he had already nurtured on his own.
“I remember my first practice,” Yoseke said of joining the Ottawa Internationals. “I saw everyone wearing the same equipment. I couldn’t believe it. The coach came and gave me mine. I was so excited to tell my family. I went to change and stared at myself in the glass. It was one of the most beautiful days of my life.”
Yoseke’s ability started to draw wider attention, including that of the Montreal Impact’s academy. After earning the necessary grades to join, it wasn’t long before Canada’s National Team came calling.
“One day, [Impact assistant coach] Jason [Di Tullio] told me I was on the radar of the U17 national team,” Yoseke said. “Then I got an email from Sean Fleming, U17 national team head coach at that time. I was invited to go to Toronto to show my play. Two weeks later, I was at my first camp with the national team in Florida. I never thought I would be representing Canada one day, as well as being in the best MLS club in Canada.”
After representing Canada at the 2013 U17 World Cup alongside teammates Marco Dominguez and Aron Mkungilwa, Yoseke last year took his first steps into the professional ranks as he made three appearances for FC Montreal. Now, he is ready for his first full season with the club.
Carrying all that has come before with him, the path ahead appears bright.