The next-level speed, scoring, and confidence exhibited by striker William Akio, of the SAIT Trojans men’s soccer team, is attracting attention around the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).
The 19-year-old is consistently affecting every match, and the proof is showing up on the scoresheets and being acknowledged by his repeated player of the game awards.
Grant Stevens, the Trojans head coach, has noticed Akio’s skills and determination growing since he coached him in his junior year.
“He’s above and beyond most athletes. He’s one of the best young men I’ve met during my stint as a coach,” Stevens says.
Much of Akio’s personal success is due to his elevated work ethic during training and practice, Stevens believes, but also the intelligence and drive he possesses as a young man.
Stevens says Akio’s speed, which is “arguably number one,” ball control, and “heightened game sense” give him an edge in the ACAC.
“When he is playing his best, although it helps us, it also perturbs the opponent.
“That consequence of what he does improves our team, and our opponents suffer,” Stevens explains.
The coach notes that Akio’s success has directly influenced the Trojans’ success as a team, and vice versa.
“When you’re as good as he is and you have other good players around him, his success is partly due to the team around him.”
The young second-year Trojan shares this belief.
“My success comes from my confidence in myself and my team. We have awesome chemistry and it is a really great atmosphere here,” says Akio.
Akin says the team members have a great bond, and they’re “always having fun, singing and dancing on the bus” during their trips out of town.
“I come to practice and I always feel really happy. I feel like I’m at my best, and my team has really helped me,” he adds.
The Trojans want to be the best in the league.
“We come to practice and we give it our all.
We want it really bad, and nobody wants to give up. Everyone is trying really hard and its showing,” Akio says.
Akio, who was born in Nairobi, Kenya, moved to Canada 15 years ago, and his early childhood was spent playing hockey.
However, he found his true athletic calling when he discovered soccer.
He was watching a Chelsea Football Club match in the Barclays Premiere League, at age 12, and he admired the play of Didier Drogba.
“I didn’t know too much about soccer but I thought it was so cool how he ran with the ball, and I just fell in love,” Akio remembers.
Realizing his newfound passion, he studied Drogba thoroughly on TV and YouTube, and drew inspiration from the professional.
Now he draws a major influence from Lionel Messi, and tries to shape his game in the style of the elite striker for Barcelona.
“Messi’s so good. He does the little things so perfectly that he doesn’t have to do anything extra.
“He’s just magic.”
No one pushed Akio more than his father when he realized his son’s keen interest in soccer.
“He saw how much I loved the sport and just wanted me to keep playing and playing. It kept me out of trouble,” Akio laughs.
“When I’m on the pitch, I have confidence, and it helps me get better. I bring it to school, I bring it when I’m out, and it helps with other things,” he explains.
“I’m more courageous. I like to do lots of things, try new things, and I’m not afraid of anything.”
Akio’s first order of business is graduating school and obtaining his diploma in the SAIT legal assistant program, but he says pursuing professional soccer is “number one” on his goals for the future.
“I want to play pro. I’m close, I’m getting there,” Akio says confidently.
“I just have to keep working and doing my thing – and my coaches are doing everything in their power to help me get there.”