Simond Kargbo escapes through soccer

Copyright: James H Loving 2015. Associated with 400 North Media, LLC
Copyright: James H Loving 2015. Associated with 400 North Media, LLC
Copyright: James H Loving 2015. Associated with 400 North Media, LLC
Copyright: James H Loving 2015. Associated with 400 North Media, LLC

Wearing a Sierra Leone men’s national soccer team jersey, Simond Kargbo sat across the marble-slab table beaming with pride for his Western African country.

“There will always be someone in a worse situation,” Kargbo said. “What gives me the right to complain?” Overcoming the tragedies of a civil war in Sierra Leone, the struggles of being a refugee and the death of his parents, Kargbo has found his escape through soccer.

Kargbo is a senior and sociology major at VCU. As a member of the VCU men’s soccer team, he stands at 5-foot-5 and plays as a striker, and has provided the team with three assists during his career.

However, according to Greg Boehme, one of the team captains, the statistics do not define what Kargbo brings to the team.

“Simond manages to wear a smile on his face at all times,” Boehme said. “This attitude is contagious and I am thankful to have him as a teammate.”

VCU men’s soccer head coach Dave Giffard reinforced Kargbo’s strength of character.

“For a person who has been through so much in his already young life, he just keeps going each day with a smile on his face,” Giffard said. “A positive attitude and a tireless work ethic.”

Born in Freetown, Sierra Leone in 1994, Simond Kargbo was introduced to the realities of his country’s Civil War. As a child, Kargbo saw traumatic images, including hundreds of dead bodies lying in the streets being preyed upon by vultures.

As a child, a group supporting the rebellion burned down Kargbo’s family home and forced the family to flee to Senegal for a year. After a brief stint in Senegal, Kargbo returned to his war-torn nation only to leave once again for The Gambia where he was provided the paperwork allowing him to emigrate to America.

Kargbo’s desire to come to the United States was driven by the opportunity to receive a quality education, while also living with his grandmother and uncle in Alexandria,

Virginia. In 2003 Kargbo moved to the U.S., thinking he had escaped tragedy. But five years later, Kargbo received news that his father, Sori, had died in Sierra Leone. Then, during his senior year of high school in 2013, Kargbo’s mother, Kamara, passed away while giving birth to his younger sister.

As for now, Simond said he is looking ahead towards the future. He is expected to graduate in the May 2017 and is determined to pursue a future in the game of soccer.
“If soccer doesn’t pan out the way I want, I would love to get right into coaching and help the next generation of athletes,” Kargbo said.

In his teammate’s own words:

I am currently a redshirt sophomore for the VCU men’s soccer team, and I can confirm everything both coach Giffard and captain Greg Boehme said about Simond Kargbo.

We train on a daily basis at 8 a.m., and the first person to say good morning to me is Simond. He approaches every day with a smile, which spreads throughout the team and creates a positive atmosphere.

No one ever doubts Simond’s work ethic, as he is consistently one of the first guys on the field at training and one of the last to leave. Given what Simond has been through, I can say without a doubt in my mind he is one of the most genuine, committed and honorable people I will ever meet.

Simond’s life and story will continue to inspire me and others as he continues to defy the odds.

Elijah Lockaby, Contributing Writer & VCU Soccer #17

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