Written by: Matthew Pedias
Determination – it is more than just a key word for athletes across the globe. It’s an attribute that only special players possess, and it’s makes them stand out from their peers. For Kevin Nelson Soccer Academy’s former player, Thomas Licursi, determination and perseverance led him to Sweden; where he would secure his first professional contract with Huddinge IF.
After almost three months in Sweden, we got the opportunity to chat with Licursi via Skype. During our interview, Thomas spoke a lot about his ability to adapt to European lifestyle, the differences between European and Canadian footy and a few of his favourite memories in SAAC. Needless to say, there are a ton of philosophies in Europe that Thomas insists should be implemented into Canada’s game.
“You’re constantly working, because everytime you’re on the couch, someone else is working hard.”
This kind of mentality and work ethic separates Licursi from his peers. Willing and able to put in the extra work needed to push his team to glory, whether it be scoring a big goal or spraying the long ball to an open man. Plus, his dedication to the sport is on another level.
Don’t believe me? Well, Licursi stated this was his favourite moment in SAAC:
“There was one game where I came in late to the field so I couldn’t start the game. The coach told me that i’m going to have to come on at half-time. So, we were down 4-0 and we were playing Sigma, which is a very good academy. I came on at half and I completely changed the game, I got three or four assists and we ended up tying the game 4-4. It was a very insane moment.
The funny part about this story is that Thomas left out a crucial bit of information. You see, Thomas was sidelined with an injury for a couple of weeks prior to that match, so he didn’t know if he would be playing that weekend or not. Luckily, he passed a physical test just hours before kick-off.
Pretty cool, right? Well, it gets better.
Kevin Nelson Soccer Academy (KNSA) is based in Ottawa and on that particular weekend, they were playing Sigma FC in Toronto. See what i’m getting at here?
Licursi and his father made the journey from Ottawa to Toronto on short notice just to be able to catch the second half of the match. It’s something that still beckons in the back of former KNSA assistant coach, Huffman Eja Tabe.
“This to me I would say is the first time in which I can say that the effort and dedication of both a player and father to travel the distance from Ottawa to Toronto to help an injury filled team earn one point to maintain its place in the top half of the very difficult SAAC league table. This to us is the answer we had been looking for,” Huffman told SAAC.
With that said, Huffman’s high praise of Licursi was mutual. “Kevin and Huffman helped me so much, as well as my past coaches,” Licursi told SAAC. After all, it was Huffman who helped Licursi make the adjustments needed to settle in Sweden. Clearly KNSA is a firm believer in Licursi’s talents and have molded him into quite the young player.
Licursi also had high praise for SAAC, which is the last league he played in prior to his journey overseas. “I think that SAAC is the perfect stepping stone for players that want to make to the next level. I find that it has a perfect balance of quality and competitiveness.”
“You really learn to play the proper way.”
– Licursi on SAAC
Huffman can attest to Licursi’s sentiment’s about SAAC. “For Thomas, playing in the SAAC league gave him that feel of being in a professional environment everyday even during training’s and so I find he is a lot more mature than maybe some players.”
SAAC thanks Licursi for the interview and wishes him the best of luck in Sweden and throughout his entire playing career.