Mamadi Camara in action with Surrey’s Central City Breakers at the 2019 Toyota National Championship tournament in St. John’s last October. (Photo: Trevor Wragg/twitter.com/tmwragg)

SOCCER

Pro deal for Camara, who helped Surrey’s CCB team win national soccer championship

Montreal native Mamadi Camara says he’s excited to sign with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

A player who helped Surrey’s Central City Breakers win a national soccer championship has signed with a pro team in the U.S.

Mamadi Camara, a six-foot-three midfielder/forward, has signed with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC to play games next season in the USL Championship, a second-tier league below the MLS.

Camara, 24, was among key contributors for CCB when the squad won the Challenge Trophy in October, at the 2019 Toyota National Championship tournament in St. John’s.

He was reached by phone in Montreal, where he’s with family for the holidays.

“I’m honestly really excited,” he said. “This is what I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid so to see it come to fruition, I’m really happy.”

An attacking midfielder, Camara played for Simon Fraser University before being drafted in the second round, 46th overall, by San Jose Earthquakes in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. He captained the SFU team in his senior year, and finished his 69-game college career with 29 goals and 20 assists.

“Mamadi had a fantastic college career and was deservedly drafted high last year in MLS,” Switchbacks coach Alan Koch said in a news release. “Unfortunately, things did not work out for him to be signed by the (San Jose) Earthquakes, but this has provided us with the opportunity to bring in a supreme athlete with excellent technical ability (who) is hungry to impress.”

With SFU, Camara was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-America First Team and was GNAC Player of the Year in 2018.

In time away from the university squad, Camara played with CCB United over the past four years, culminating in this year’s national championship.

• RELATED STORY/VIDEO: Surrey soccer team wins national title for teammate Bassi, killed in car crash last spring.

From spring until fall, it was an emotional title run for Camara and CCB following the death of teammate Brandon Bassi, who was killed in a single-vehicle crash in Newton on May 18, near 78th Avenue and 122nd Street.

Bassi, 19, a Delta resident, played club soccer with CCB and, along with Camara, was also part of SFU’s soccer program. Bassi was also a Vancouver Whitecaps prospect.

He perished just a couple weeks after the team won the provincial title in Nanaimo, a win that propelled CCB to the tournament in St. John’s and, ultimately, the club’s first national men’s championship.

“I was pretty close to Brandon,” Camara said, “and I feel like when he joined SFU, even though he was taller than me, it’s like he saw me as a big brother. And just looking at the pictures of every playoff game last spring, in April and May, in every photo he was right beside me.

“It was really hard,” Camara added, “because the week after we won (the provincial title) and we got the news (of Bassi’s death), that really, really affected me – for the whole summer, to be honest. It’s still hard, because there are still things that make me think of him – certain songs or whatever, but I’m really happy we were able to win that championship for him and his family. Having his father there motivated us so much.”

With Colorado Springs, Camara will begin his pro career at training camp in mid-January.

“It’s a one-year contract, so I’ll show what I can do and hopefully things work out beyond that,” Camara said.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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