By Jean DePlacido
---- — When Amadu Kunateh was younger all he wanted to do was become a professional soccer player, but his coaches at North Shore United Soccer Club helped him channel his dreams to include a college education.
The 16-year old from Salem, who was born in Sierra Leone, has been playing for Revolution’s academy club for three years and is a junior at Lawrence Academy in Groton. He expects to commit to a college after his high school soccer season ends.
“This is a very big year for me because I have started to look at colleges,” said Kunateh, who plays forward for the Revs and midfield for the Spartans. “Brown, Harvard, Boston College, Duke, and Stanford are my top five. My former coaches Stefano Franciosa and Aparicio Smart at North Shore United have helped me so much.”
TopDrawerSoccer.com, a leading Web site for college soccer prospects, rates Kunateh the No. 19 forward nationally in his high school class, and No. 4 overall in the Northeast region.
“I never used to think about going to college. I would have been happy to finish high school, but the NSU coaches talked to me about my future, and made me realize how important a college education is,” said Kunateh. “They did so much to help me get into Lawrence Academy. Aparicio knows one of the coaches at Lawrence Academy.”
Kunateh began playing soccer as a youth in Sierra Leone, a country located in West Africa. His father, who is deceased, was a professional soccer player in Sierra Leone, and his mother also played.
“My family moved to Salem from Sierra Leone in 2005 when I was 8-years old,” said Kunateh. “We were war refugees, and I have family in both Salem and Lynn. I started playing in the Salem Youth program, and then with North Shore United from the time I was 10. We had players from so many different countries including the Dominican Republic, Panama, Greece, and Albania as well as from America.
“They were great teams, and we won four state championships. Playing with people from so many different countries helped me adjust, and when I went to boarding school I was used to seeing people from all over the world.”
He’s also been called to several United States boys national team training camps, including the U-15 training in March of 2012.
“Amadu’s technical ability is excellent,” said Franciosa, who founded the North Shore United program. “But what makes Amadu different from most players is his drive. He is committed to being successful, and he does that with every aspect of his life from soccer to academics to family and friends.”
Kunateh traveled to tournaments in many states when he played for North Shore United, and the places he has gone has increased in the three years he has played for Revolution.
“We travel a lot for games, and last year went to a tournament in South Africa,” said Kunateh. “That was an amazing cultural experience. My team just came back from Dallas a few weeks ago. Usually everybody comes back to play for Revolution in August, but they allow me to play for Lawrence Academy so I will rejoin the team in November when that season ends.”
As his collegiate future continues to come into focus, Kunateh remains hard-working and very grateful to all the coaches that have helped him along the way.
“From the time I was 13 all I wanted to do was play Division 1 soccer. I was always competitive, but my coaches at North Shore United made me realize how important my education is. My Mom is very happy I am thinking seriously about college,” he said. “I’ve been helping coach the younger kids at NSU camps this summer, and it’s so much fun. My friend Henry Balf (Beverly/Waring School) and I were asked for our autographs by some of the kids. That’s something I couldn’t believe because it wasn’t long ago I was their age and going to soccer camps.”