Mass United’s inaugural season in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) may not have produced the desired win-loss record, but the talent on the team was evident to everyone. That’s why it’s no surprise that United’s own Adrian Kawuba was selected for the NPSL All Star team in his first season in the league. The 21 All Stars were selected from 60 nominations which came from teams around the league and are being coached by NPSL Technical Director Matt Driver, a former Assistant Coach for the New England Revolution. We spoke with Adrian and Head Coach Jim Antonakas on Saturday afternoon, a day after playing the full 90 minutes in the All Star game, a 3-1 loss to the hosts of the NPSL National Championship weekend, Rocket City United, in Madison, Alabama. The All Stars are on a short tour which culminates with a match against the Atlanta Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League on August 2nd.
The 22 year-old was born in Uganda and moved to the United States at the age of 11. “When I first came to this country it was still pretty evident that there wasn’t a lot of soccer around … but the area that I first moved to had a lot of Hispanic people and Africans who were nearby so the transition wasn’t too, too bad.” He also showed a very mature approach to his selection, “I’m here to learn, most importantly. We have a coaching staff that has put together an amazing opportunity for many of us that are hoping to play at the next level. It’s definitely going to open doors for us, but even if none of us get signed it’s an amazing experience.”
The defender acknowledged the role having a good team around you plays in something like this. “I don’t want to say it was almost a shock to be selected, but we have so many great players on the team that deserved a shot.” The mature approach couldn’t hide his enthusiasm however, as even his voice smiled when asked how it felt to be selected in his first season, “It was unbelievable, man. I’m just very thankful to (Head Coach) Jim (Antonakas) … for giving me a chance to play with Mass United … I just tried to do the best I could.”
Coach Antonakas, who is also the team owner and went out of his way to travel with the all star, was pleased to be able to carry out one of the main goals of Mass United as an organization, which is to help players advance to the next level. “I’m very excited and proud that we had an opportunity to showcase one of our players. We nominated a couple players that were quite capable, as I think many others were quite capable … and Adrian was fortunate enough to get selected by the coaching staff. We’re all very … happy for Adrian and very proud of him.”
About the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL): The NPSL was founded in 2003 and is the highest ranking amateur soccer league in the United States of America. It is a national men’s amateur league with over 35 teams in four conferences, and is sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) as an affiliate of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). Both USSF and FIFA recognize the NPSL as a Division IV league behind Major League Soccer (MLS), the North American Soccer League (NASL) and USL Pro. Through USASA, NPSL clubs are able to qualify for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the oldest running soccer tournament in the country and one of the oldest soccer tournaments in the world. For more information, visit our official website at http://www.npslsoccer.net or drop us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.