The Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s soccer league season wasn’t even underway when RDC Kings head coach Steve Fullarton offered this up about Julius Abegar.
“He’s extremely talented and possibly too good for this league,” he said.
Now two months later the rest of the ACAC sees what Fullarton saw as Abegar was not only selected to the All-Conference team for the South Division, but named an All-Canadian and the ACAC male player of the year. He’ll attend the Canadian championships at the University of New Brunswick in St. John next week where he’ll look to add the player of the year award for the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association.
“I don’t think I played my best this year, but it’s great to win the award and I’m hoping to win the CCAA award,” said Abegar with a laugh.
Abegar started the season in the midfield, but two games in he was switched to his natural position as a central defender.
“I thought I could help in the midfield, but once into the season I felt I could help more on defence,” he explained. “It worked perfectly.”
Abegar played most of the season with several nagging injuries with a slight groin pull, an ankle sprain and then a knee injury, but felt he could help the team by just being in the lineup.
“It’s a short season with just 10 games and I wanted to help the team, and felt I had to play,” explained the 26-year-old native of Ghana. “It was tough at times, but we were doing well as a team and that kept me going and I was able to play on the weekends.”
It was a long and winding road from Ghana to RDC as Abegar played semipro and pro in Hong Kong and Malaysia as well as Thunder Bay, Ont.
“After high school I wanted to continue to play soccer and was able to get on a team in Hong Kong,” he explained. “I was there for a couple of years and was going to go to India, and had actually signed there, but I was injured and that fell through so I moved to Malaysia.”
After close to three years in Malaysia he was once again injured and sitting out when an opportunity to move to North America came up.
“I had a buddy playing in Kansas City and his agent told him to tell me about a chance to try out in Thunder Bay in the PDL (the 68-team Premier Development League). I decided to give it a try and if it didn’t work out that’s fine.”
He made the team for the 2009 season and helped them finish second in the conference in 2010. However, he met a girl from Red Deer, which eventually swayed him to move to the Central Alberta community.
“I came here (Red Deer) for five months after the 2009 season and went back to Thunder Bay for the 2010 season. That’s when I decided to move here full time.
“It’s been good for me and Steve has been great. He’s helped me a lot and wanted me to play at the college, and I promised him I would once I was a permanent resident.
“I got that last year and wanted to fulfill my promise to him.”
By the time he made the decision, to attend RDC most of the classes he wanted were full, so he took open studies and will switch to his main program next year. He indicated he’s interested in kinesiology for one.
Abegar played a major role in the Kings success this season as they won the South Division and finished third in the ACAC playoffs.
“It was disappointing as we felt we could go to the Canadians, but it was a good team effort to come back after losing to NAIT (in the semifinals) and beat Lethbridge for the bronze,” said Abegar.
l The basketball squads open their home season Friday against Olds. The women tip off at 6 p.m. with the men to follow.
The Queens have a 1-2 record while the Kings are 3-0. The Olds women are 2-1 with the men 0-3.
The teams play again Saturday in Olds, also starting at 6 p.m.
l The volleyball squads also meet Olds in a home-and-home series — Friday in Olds and Saturday at RDC. The women get underway both days at 6 p.m. with the men to follow.
Both RDC teams are 2-0 with the Olds women 1-0 and men 0-1.
l The hockey Kings have an important home-and-home series with the SAIT Trojans — Friday at 7:15 p.m. at the Penhold Regional multiplex and Saturday at SAIT. The teams go into the weekend tied for first place with 16 points each.
l The hockey Queens face the NAIT Ooks for the first time since losing to the Ooks in last year’s league final.
The two meet Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Arena and Saturday at NAIT.
l The Kings soccer team were selected the Boston Pizza RDC male athletes of the week while soccer Queens netminder Jesse Stewart received the top female award after a brilliant effort in a loss to NAIT in the ACAC quarter-finals.
Queens hockey received the Breathing Room team of the week award.