The journeys of Mohamed Abdalla and Baradin Ahmed to the United States have a taken several twists and turns, but the pair of underclassmen at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri have a unique and inspiring story of perseverance and optimism that shines brightly in our local community.
With both families originating from Sudan, they both made the necessary decision to flee during the war with their families as tensions began to rise and it became unsafe to live in the country. They each relocated in Kenya where they lived in a refugee camp. It was there, in the East African country, that the boys first met one another at school. Their friendship instantly took off and they’ve shared similar life experiences ever since. Their love for soccer began at the young age of five years old and continued to grow during their time in Kenya.
“We didn’t have money for a real soccer ball in Kenya,” said Ahmed. “In order to play, we would put together plastic bags and socks to make a big, bouncy circle-shaped ball, and then burn the sides to keep the shape.”
As political refugees, they came to the United States with their families in 2017, not knowing the English language. They continued their education at Kansas City International Academy and quickly made a lasting impression on those in their new, local community.
“When I think of two stand-out students, the two names of Mohamed and Baradin will forever come to mind for me,” said one of the boy’s instructional coaches. “This is my 10th year in education and never have I met students with so much internal drive, focus and determination to make this world a better place.”
“The desire to succeed by Mohamed and Baradin is unmatched,” said one Kansas City International Academy teacher. “They are willing to do whatever it takes to reach their goals and never shy away from a challenge. Not only that, but they are two of the most respectful young men I have ever known. They have left a lasting impact on me as their teacher and in our school community.”
After graduation, the boys continued their education and soccer careers at Rockhurst High School. Their desire to learn and enhance their education continues to be on display, with both Mohamed and Baradin now being able to speak, understand and write several languages, including English.
“I’m proud to say that my biggest accomplishment to date is receiving a quality education at Rockhurst, while also playing soccer at the highest level,” said Abdalla. “I love attending Rockhurst because of the opportunity it provides me, including the ability to meet new people from diverse backgrounds. I’m always reminded to remember my roots and how far I’ve come, especially when I don’t feel like putting in the work.”
“My family knew we would receive numerous opportunities by coming to the United States,” said Ahmed. “Everyone is nice and open-minded with one another. One piece of advice that I received was to never let anyone tell you what you can and cannot accomplish. I’m excited and blessed to have the opportunity to become a Blue KC Sporting Samaritan.”
“When I first met Mohamed during virtual learning, he asked me what an ‘F’ stood for on your report card (not that he has ever had one),” said one of Mohamed’s former teachers. “I replied that it means you are failing the class. He said no it means “Future room to grow”. From then on, I looked at ‘F’s, and a lot of other things, differently because of the optimism this young man had.”
On the soccer pitch, both boys are continuing to climb up the ranks at Rockhurst. Abdalla competes at the junior varsity level, while Ahmed is a member of the sophomore team. Their impact, and the many lives they’ve touched along the way through generosity, kindness and optimistic views, continues to grow.
“Mohamed and Baradin’s friendship began early on through their passion for soccer,” said Mohamed and Baradin’s nominator and former teacher, Lauren Weeks. “The boys grew up in similar circumstances and overcame many challenges early on in their lives. Once stateside, they expressed their respect for teachers and peers by displaying acts of kindness on a routine basis to those around them.”
“The inspiring stories of Mohamed and Baradin shine a positive light on the next generation of leaders within our community,” said Christina Lively, Blue KC Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “Their life experiences to date have shown that anything is possible with hard work, determination, and a strong support system of friends and family. It’s our privilege to recognize them both as Blue KC Sporting Samaritans for the month of April, and we know they’ll continue to excel in the years to come.”
Blue KC Sporting Samaritans will continue to be recognized monthly at Children’s Mercy Park during Sporting home games this season. Fans are encouraged to nominate teachers and students who are making a positive impact on their schools and communities by using the form online at https://www.sportingkc.com/BlueKC.