MLS fans have been treated to watching Vancouver Whitecaps attacker Alphonso Davies menace opposing defenses this season. Davies also shined when he took the stage at the FIFA Congress and deliver a speech that helped bring the 2026 World Cup to Canada, Mexico, and the United States.
Growing into a promising talent in MLS and a composed speaker just didn’t happen and if it wasn’t for Free Footie, an organization based in Edmonton that gives kids like Davies from underserved communities a chance to play soccer for free, it’s possible that it never would have.
As Davies told the FIFA Congress about his family fleeing the Liberian Civil War saying, “I was born in Ghana, in a refugee camp. It was a hard life. But when I was five years old, a country called Canada welcomed us in.” It was in Edmonton that he began playing organized soccer with Free Footie.
On the suggestion of one of the most respected coaches at the organization, its founder Tim Adams invited a local academy to scout him. Davies rose to the occasion and at just 10 years old helped win a tournament when he “deeked out the entire team, rifled [a shot] into the top corner. As soon as the coach at the academy saw that he said, ‘yep we want him to come on over’” as Adams describes it.
From there, Davies played for the St. Nicholas Soccer Academy, the Vancouver Whitecaps, and the Canada National Team.
Davies might be the first of many players with a similar story and Adams thinks that Les Rouges could have a roster full of players like him. He says that the athletic, mental, and community support will be key to nurture those players and, as Adams puts it, “If we can figure out the way to develop the proper mentorship programs like Alphonso’s had and support structures, I see no problem with us putting together strong national teams with kids like Alphonso.”
All of the attributes that Adams mentioned were also on display for Davies off the field. Adams’ described what he saw when Davies gave his speech prior to the World Cup, saying he was “being composed, and confident and representing all the things you want as a good person more than as a good footballer. I can show that to the kids and say, ‘hey, this is a kid that came from the same spot as you, he’s got his life together, not just his football game,’ that’s pretty important.”
Alphonso Davies certainly has the soccer skills to be one of the best players in the World Cup well before 2026 rolls around. He’s even been scouted by Manchester United and Liverpool already in his young career. If Canada finds more players like him because of programs like Free Footie, the team could take a major step forward and make their fans and country proud as a co-host nation.