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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Pare brings street style skills and smiles to Bennett’s program

Photo by Alex DeBuhr
Abdoul Karim Pare (17) brings up the ball in Marquette men’s soccer’s 3-1 loss to Butler Sept. 30 at Valley Fields.

At the young age of 11 years old, Abdoul Karim Pare said goodbye to his family, friends and his home in the Ivory Coast to pursue a new opportunity with Right to Dream Academy in Accra, Ghana.

“It was very challenging because I went from being one of the best players in my neighborhood to competing with all the best players in Africa,” Pare said. “When I left (Ivory Coast), I was very young, so I was obviously sad. My mom was sad as well, and (at) first she didn’t want me to leave.”

But even at a young age, Pare knew what he wanted.

“A lot of people in my family were like, No, you can’t do this, you won’t be able to get anywhere with this or would say, Just focus on your studies, but I knew I could do both at the same time and I did what I wanted,” Pare said.

The manifesto of RTD is as stated: “If everything else fell away, this is what would remain. Whatever we achieve, this is the heart of it.” RTD also preaches the message to “rock the boat,” which symbolizes how soccer is a mirror to society, and to rock the boat is to challenge and disrupt common perceptions, to create a new normal.

Through RTD, Pare has not only learned valuable soccer skills, but life lessons as well.

“In my early time with RTD, people said, ‘Oh you’re not very happy around here,’ I think one of the main reasons was because I missed my mom, so right away that taught me to be happy even when things are not going on well,” Pare said. “When things aren’t great and there’s nothing you can do about it, either you squeeze your face or smile. They (RTD) always taught me to be happy.”

Pare carried his happiness to the U.K. Alongside a handful of his RTD mates, Pare completed his high school education at Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, all while playing the sport he loves.

Before coming to Marquette, Pare had his first dabble with U.S. collegiate soccer at Louisiana State University-Shreveport. But when Pare entered the transfer pool, Marquette head coach Louis Bennett said he was eager to pick him up.

The sophomore attacker’s transition to the Midwest has been an easy one.

“This is a young man that’s been away from home since he was 11 years old, chasing a soccer ball from Ivory Coast to Accra, then England and then the United States,” Bennett said. “He’s adjusted really well. It’s not easy because he’s been in different places and in different countries, but because he has the best attitude and that allows him to be really open to everything.”

From one place to the next, Pare’s contagious smile is a constant.

“He always has a smile on his face,” Bennett said. “I think the only the only time I’ve seen him grimace is when he had a root canal, which was about three weeks after he came here (Marquette), that’s the only time I haven’t seen him smiling.”

The forward attacker’s pearly whites and happy attitude have influenced his teammates on and off the field.

“He definitely has a big impact in this team. Every time he walks into a large room, he has that big smile on his face, which always cheers us (the team) up,” junior forward Beto Soto said. “He’s a great player, but he’s an even better person outside the field. He’s funny, me and him have our own inside jokes, and it’s always exciting to see him with the ball, see what skills he’s going to pull on the defender.”

When it comes to handling the ball, Pare has quite a few tricks up his sleeve.

“He’s a street player,” Bennett said. “At times he does things that you think oh man you only normally see that when you’re just knocking around the ball around with your friend, yet he does it as part of our system.”

Such street style elements are simply products of childhood fun and neighborhood games, Pare said.

“Where I’m from, we play football in the street and we don’t have like grass, or that fancy grass. We play on hard surfaces where the ball bounces around most of the time so it’s very hard, but because of that I have more control of the ball,” Pare said.

Though Pare said he wouldn’t describe himself as a goal-scorer, he currently leads the Golden Eagles in goals.

“People think I’m a good scorer, but I don’t really like scoring goals. I like to assist my teammate, that’s what I’ve always done. I like to pass the ball to the striker, and he scores a goal,” Pare said.

Through the eyes of Bennet, whether Pare is scoring in games, freestyling the ball or at practice, he’s radiating joy.

“When we go to work, obviously many players are very upbeat and are very intense, but you can tell they’re really enjoying it (soccer). It makes it so much easier to coach because you know that these players are outwardly enjoying stuff,” Bennett said. “Pare is one of those guys.”

With Pare’s diverse playing style and positive outlook, Bennett said Marquette continues to benefit from his character. A character in which Pare himself said has been greatly shaped by RTD.

“One of the things that RTD emphasized was never to give up on your dreams, and that goes for achieving anything in life,” Pare said.

This article was written by Ava Mares. She can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @avamaresMU.

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