A kick in the grass

Playing Development Academy soccer is an incredible opportunity many high school soccer players dream of. For sophomore Enock Maganda, this dream became a reality when he played DA his freshman year. 

The highest level of youth soccer in America, DA provided Maganda the opportunity to play for United Futbol Academy in Norcross, Georgia.

“I got scouted from U.S. Youth Soccer’s program, the Olympic Developmental Program, and it scouts you for the national team,” Maganda said.

Jumping into DA soccer can be difficult for new players. Maganda felt no different when having to adjust from club soccer to DA.

“At first I wasn’t training on my own because I thought I was good enough to do that, but then I realized if I didn’t train on my own I would have been behind compared to the other players. So I started training 4-5 hours on my own each week,” Maganda said.

Joining DA forced Maganda to give up playing soccer for Cedar Shoals because DA players are barred from playing for their high school. The rule states that “players who participate in high/middle school soccer are ineligible to participate in academy practice.”

Maganda missed out on playing in his freshman year, but since returning he has been a revelation for the Cedar team. 

“I stopped playing because I wanted to play for the high school, but also because I was the second to last person cut from the team. I was an 04 (age group) and what they do is combine the 03 and 04’s which makes it really impossible for any 04s to make the team,” Maganda said.

Assistant coach Connor Naughton has known Maganda as a player since 7th grade, but this is Coach Naughton’s first year officially coaching him. He has noticed Maganda’s growth throughout middle school and high school after his return to the Cedar squad. 

“He has progressed tremendously with his strength, his conditioning, and his ability to endure a lot of contact. He used to have a reputation of being one-footed. He’s got an incredible left foot, but he’s gotten a lot better with his right foot,” Naughton said.

Maganda provides a morale boost for the Jags as they are already improving from their 4-13-1 record last season to 6-0 this season so far. 

“Guys look to him for how hard they should work. He’s someone who’s such a good player and plays at a high level, but is also so dedicated and they see him out here staying late after practice or coming early to get individual work in,” Naughton said.

Junior William Fang admires Maganda’s work ethic and how he inspires his teammates. 

“Enock has this incredible work ethic, and when you see him working in practice or giving everything he has it inspires others to work just as hard. His work ethic is something that he brings to the team not to mention his playing ability as well,” Fang said.

Maganda’s talent has established him as a regular starter. After starting seven games Maganda is the squad’s joint top scorer registering 3 goals and 2 assists from center midfield. He hopes to win a state championship before his return to UFA.

The Cedar Shoals Jaguars take on the Discovery Titans at home with hopes of continuing their 6 game winning streak.