Ascent Soccer Academy’s pioneer graduates, Zobran Elias and Lughano Nyondo safely landed at New York’s JFK International Airport in the United States of American on Monday to begin the next chapters of their football and academic pursuits at Taft School of Connecticut and Indian Mountain School respectively.
This will be Zobran’s second stint in US in which after one year of schooling and excellent performance on the pitch, he won himself a scholarship at Taft as a Davis International Scholar.
This will be Lughano’s first time in US, building off her experiences this summer at the Women’s World Cup in France, and will settle into boarding school life next week, as according the Ascent’s website update.
“As an Academy, we are very proud to see our first female player graduate from Ascent Soccer and this highlights our investment in and commitment to gifted female players in Malawi,” says Ascent on its website.
Last July, Lughano was in Paris, France as part of a global documentary being produced on gifted female players called ‘This Girl Wears Cleats’, being produced by French Dog Productions of Seattle, USA.
The documentary, that has been in production since May 2018 and has seen two film crews visiting Malawi, profiles gifted female players from all over the world and the challenges they face in pursuing their goals.
Whilst in France, Lughano attended the Women’s World Cup final in Lyon and also spent time in Paris with the other players in the documentary including girls from Jamaica, America and South Africa.
Ascent Soccer’s founder, George Maguire said they are absolutely delighted that Lughano has shown amazing character, work rate and strength to adapt and develop as quickly as she has in a variety of environments.
“Academically she has exceeded everyone’s expectations and as a striker she has everything she needs to excel. She has the power, two good feet, intelligence, speed, timing and most importantly an eye for goal.”
Last year she was the Ascent’s overall top scorer and she has the potential to be the best female striker to emerge from Malawi since Tabitha Chawinga.
“As an Academy, we are so proud to see one of our female players graduate to the USA, and it’s our hope her story inspires other girls across Malawi, showing them power that football can have in generating opportunities for young players, leading to more amazing stories like Lughano and female participation in the sport.
“We encourage Football Association of Malawi to keep an eye on her progress in the US as she is, in our view, a national team player in the making,” Maguire said.
Meanwhile, Maguire — who was honoured with Malawi Sport’s 2019 Non-Citizen of the Year award in February this year for his outstanding contributions to the development of sports in the country — says after a robust, year-long scouting effort, they have evaluated over 4,500 youngsters.
“The brightest talents we encountered along the way were invited to our base in Lilongwe to partake in national trials with hopes of earning a place in the academy.
“Promising players across all our age groups have been immersed in life at Ascent, training and socializing amongst our current student-athletes.
“So far, we have been thrilled to offer places in the academy to five boys and two girls, including several prospects who have demonstrated strong academic inclinations.
“In addition, a number of male and female players shall be invited back in September for further assessment with academy squads.”
He also said Ascent’s U20 squad, comprised almost entirely of 17 to 18-year-olds, dug deep to come away from their away match on a rocky pitch against the league’s second-placed team with a 1-1 draw, much to the dismay of the home crowd of around 2,500.
“The result brings Ascent’s league record to 14 wins, two draws and one loss, enough to clinch the top of the table finish at the end of the first round with a three-point cushion and a far superior goal difference to any competing team.
“The boys’ composure and maturity against older and bigger players throughout the season has been extraordinary and their play on the pitch has been breathtaking at times, scoring 71 goals in 17 matches, led by Christopher Gototo with 27 — eight more than his closest rival.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :