Daniel Bloyou never dreamed he’d be here.
Bloyou is a member of the Union Academy, playing with the U-16 Academy team as a forward, and a prolific one at that. In 11 games played this season, he’s started nine and has eight goals. If you told Bloyou he’d be doing this well for the Union Academy when he was growing up, he’d had thought you were crazy.
Bloyou started his journey, growing up in Liberia, and was introduced to soccer through his friends. He was immediately taken to it. As much as he could, Bloyou would play with his friends. But it was never organized, but always “street soccer.” But those games were where Bloyou fell in love with the beautiful game.
“In Liberia, there wasn’t an organization or anything,” Bloyou said. “We just played soccer for the fun of it. We played in the street, whenever we had the time to. We had passion, and that’s how it all started with me. We would play 5-on-5 games, and they were very, very intense. It was just for the fun of it. All your best friends together, having quality time, those moments can’t be forgotten. It was meaningful to us because we were all there doing what we loved.”
In Liberia, Bloyou lived only with his father; his mother was in the United States, specifically, in Philadelphia. Eventually, his mother sent for Bloyou, and he joined her in the United States. After traveling to a new country, it was soccer that helped Bloyou assimilate to his new home.
“I didn’t know soccer beyond what I played in Liberia,” Bloyou said. “All I knew was what I had. I knew I had the ability, the passion for it. That was enough.”
In the United States, it was still street soccer for Bloyou. It wasn’t until he was in gym class in middle school did Bloyou think about playing club soccer. After seeing his skill with the ball, especially in confined spaces, Bloyou’s gym teacher recommended he play club soccer as the next step in his journey. So he joined Lighthouse SC.
Two months later, he was being recruited by the Union, and became a member of the Union Academy.
With the Union Academy, Bloyou has flourished. His soccer game has improved, thanks to the coaching staff at the Academy, as well as the players he’s surrounded by. It’s allowed Bloyou to be confident and to have dreams he never thought he could achieve.
“Since I’ve joined the Union Academy, I’ve seen a lot of progress,” Bloyou said. “I’ve changed from someone who grew up playing street soccer in Liberia, to someone who aspires to be a professional soccer player. If I keep working hard and my desire hard, I can get somewhere way, way beyond where I expected to be.”
One of the main dreams Bloyou now wants to achieve is college. In Liberia, college wasn’t anything Bloyou thought he could achieve. Now, college, and playing collegiate soccer, is at the forefront of his mind and his Plan A.
“School is a vital part of life,” Bloyou said. “There’s always a possibility you’re not going to make it, that you’re not going to go pro. School is a very, very important part of my journey, and the Union Academy is a school that helps me do both. I’m playing soccer and learning at the same time. The next step is going to college. I’m still playing soccer in college, and aspiring to be a professional soccer player.”
Because of his journey and his upbringing, Bloyou is taking advantage of every opportunity he has. When he was growing up in Liberia, there wasn’t a thought in his mind about being able to play professional soccer. But now he’s ready for whatever lies ahead of him.
“My journey has been unthinkable,” Bloyou said. “It wasn’t something I could have told you about. It’s not something I could have even dreamed of. All I could think of when I was little was just playing in the street with my friends and having fun. I could have never thought I’d be in the US, traveling across the country and going to a school specifically for soccer, doing what I love. It’s just been phenomenal, and I have to keep working to achieve what I want to accomplish.”
Bloyou also knows the sacrifices families and players have to make, especially those who are international players. His family was no different, and thankfully, he’s seeing those rewards. An opportunity like the one he has doesn’t come around often, and he’s making the most of it now.
“Even though your journey may not be clear or visible to you right now, you should work hard and keep working and doing what you’re doing,” Bloyou said. “Opportunities come and go, so once yours comes, you’re going to have to have the heart to take it and put in the work. Work always pays off. All you have in this world is time, so use the best of it.”
From playing soccer with friends at home to traveling across the world for a chance to make your dreams come true, with dependable roadside assistance, car care, & hotel discounts, AAA is there to support the journeys of all young athletes & their families as they chase their dreams.