Desire Katameya is 16 and focused on his dream.
“I think, one day, I will be a professional soccer player, one day,” he says.
He has proved himself arguably a great high school soccer player.
This week the Foster High School sophomore was picked the Seamount League Player of the Year for boys soccer by the league’s coaches. He’s the league’s leading scorer this season – 23 goals and 10 assists – and one of the top high school scorers in the Seattle area.
“I haven’t seen at the high school level a complete player like Desire,” said his coach, Nasir Tura, who played soccer at Foster, graduating in 2006.
Tura went on to coach at Foster; in 2011 he was named the league’s Coach of the Year for girls soccer. Ray Schriber now coaches the girls team
Katameya is the second Bulldog to be named athlete of the year; the coaches also chose another Foster sophomore, Almir Sehovic, in 2008.
Tura, Katameya and a core of seniors and talented underclassmen will lead the Bulldogs into the postseason with a 2A district tournament game at 5 p.m. Thursday against Port Angeles High School at Franklin Pierce Stadium in Tacoma.
“I think we have big shot to make it the state,” said Tura. The team finished fifth in the league with a 7-6-1 record.
Tura sees a lot of himself in his young player. Both learned to play soccer on the streets of Africa, Tura in Kenya and Katameya in Congo, where he was born, and Burundi, where his family moved.
They talk together about their common story and love of soccer.
“I have to inspire him. I have to tell him, ‘Desire, 12 or 13 years ago, I was you. I had no shoes. I didn’t speak any English,” Tura said. Besides English, they share on language in common – Swahili. French is the official language of Congo.
Katameya immigrated to Tukwila in 2013 with his parents, Michael and Christina, and his younger brother, John, 8, and sister, Samuela, 4.
Katameya’s early schooling in soccer came from his father and an uncle. There was a time when he didn’t like soccer, but his uncle told him “Come on, you’re going to be good at soccer, Desire. I trusted him,” Katameya said.
He thought for a moment when asked whether he’s a good soccer player. Tura describes him as humble and focused on soccer.
“Hmm. I am pretty good at soccer, now. Because . . . Yah, I think, yah,” especially for his age, he says.
He then took his answer in a different direction.
“If you are good at soccer, you are going to play professionally,” he said, like Seattle Sounder star Clint Dempsey, one of his favorite players. Another favorite is France’s Zinedine Zidane, one of the best soccer players ever and now a professional coach.
“No one can play like him,” says Katameya of Zidane.
While his dream is to play professional soccer, right now Katameya says will focus on high school, and soccer, to do his best.
“I always try to do my best,” he said. “I don’t give up.”
He feels the pressure on the field from opposing teams. Kennedy Catholic players are tall, he’s short, about 5-foot-5. But he says he’s a smart player – and “I am pretty fast.”
Hazen twice beat Foster this season, in part by shutting down Katameya.
“We don’t man mark individual players, but we knew No. 11 (Katameya, the league’s top scorer) was going to be a challenge,” Hazen Coach Ken Matthews wrote in his report on the Highlanders’ 2-0 victory on April 21.
Katameya arrived at Foster with “brilliant” technique, Tura said, which is typical of athletes who played street soccer, many of whom became international stars.
“The street is the best teacher,” Tura said, where soccer is played every day, before and after school and on the weekends.
Much of what the players learn is self-taught, but they’ll also imitate on the streets what they saw the “great athletes,” such as Renaldo, do on TV, Tura said.
A coach teaches the players, especially street players, the tactical part of soccer, Tura said, such as the role of every position on the field. That’s what he does with Katameya.
“So when he plays all those positions, then OK, this is how it works,” Tura said.
Katameya would face some decisions in the next three years, including whether to play on the under-17 U.S. team, Tura said.
“I think Desire has what it takes to be on the national team,” Tura said.