Former Stanford participant Ousseni Bouda begins youth soccer initiative

For an athlete, success is outlined by efficiency on the sphere — however legacy transcends these easy statistics, weighing as an alternative an athlete’s skill to impact change and remodel sports activities to be extra equitable and accessible for future generations. And Ousseni Bouda ’23, former Stanford males’s soccer participant, is working to dismantle limitations for underserved communities of shade together with his new initiative, On The Pitch With Bouda.

Resulting from components like the price of tools and lack of entry to coaching and mentors, athletes from lower-income backgrounds are sometimes disproportionately deterred from taking part in sports activities. On The Pitch With Bouda companions with the Large Homie Challenge, which matches East Palo Alto children with skilled mentors and group members to offer extra assets to an underserved group. On The Pitch With Bouda additionally brings households from East Palo Alto to Earthquakes video games, which for some, are their first time at knowledgeable sporting occasion. Bouda additionally hosts Q&A periods with the youngsters.

Along with pitch interactions, Bouda’s initiative is broadening entry to provides by means of tools drives. At any time when he visits his house in Burkina Faso, he brings again gear to provide to children who wish to begin taking part in soccer.

For Bouda, group is wherever he goes, not simply the place he got here from. Bouda fervently believes within the energy of giving again to raised the group that surrounds him.

“As athletes, we’ve got to all the time take into consideration the broader impacts we will have on and off the sphere,” Bouda mentioned. “I believe if there’s a platform, it’s good when it’s utilized in the precise manner. And so I’ve all the time felt prefer it’s an obligation to attempt to become involved with the group and get to know folks and undoubtedly assist in any manner, form or type that I can.”

Bouda’s values of selflessness and gratitude have clear antecedents within the work of his inspirations, one among whom is George Weah.

“George Weah was a Liberian soccer participant who was voted greatest participant on this planet, [and is] now at present the president of his nation,” Bouda mentioned. “George Weah is somebody that I look as much as due to how he remembers the place he comes from, and him desirous to make issues higher in his nation, utilizing soccer.”

Soccer has opened many doorways for Bouda, ranging from his youth in Burkina Faso. His journey to turning into knowledgeable soccer participant has been one among extraordinary arduous work and adaptableness.

“I used to be recruited by a soccer academy known as Proper to Dream, [which moved me to] Ghana. I spent 4 years there, so between 11 and 13 years outdated, I needed to adapt to a brand new nation and study a brand new language,” Bouda mentioned. At 15, he acquired a scholarship to attend preparatory college in New York, sparking one more tradition shock.

All through this unbelievable journey that constantly examined him bodily and mentally, Bouda by no means misplaced hope in his dream to play soccer professionally. 

“I all the time felt prefer it was on me to work arduous to take advantage of out of those alternatives,” Bouda mentioned. “So then when instances get arduous, I believe I all the time have the motivation. It’s arduous to maintain working, arduous to proceed rising. However so long as I do this, I’ll be superb.”

Bouda has a spectacular set of athletic accomplishments. In highschool, he was Gatorade Nationwide Participant of the Yr and led his college crew to 3 consecutive championships. Whereas at Stanford, he earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Yr and All Pac-12 First Crew awards. After simply two and a half years, he acquired the chance to enter the draft and be part of the most important league, a formidable and uncommon feat for an underclassman. 

Along with being knowledgeable soccer participant, Bouda was a full time pupil at Stanford. This previous spring, he graduated with a level in worldwide relations. The significance of schooling is one thing that has by no means escaped him and one thing he hopes to convey to others by means of soccer. 

Bouda’s humility and earnest affinity to serve the group has been noticed by many round him, together with Jacqueline Diep, co-founder of the Large Homie Challenge. 

“Ousseni has been somebody who’s extremely selfless and prepared to assist out in no matter manner he can,” Diep mentioned. “His humble starting is one thing I don’t assume he has ever overpassed, regardless of how profitable he’s gotten on or off the pitch. His humility is a trait that basically stands out to me.” 

Bouda has been concerned within the Large Homie Challenge since his freshman 12 months. This challenge goals to offer youth in underserved East Palo Alto communities with entry to knowledgeable community and mentors, whether or not they be skilled athletes or docs. All through Bouda’s participation, Diep noticed his motivation to deepen his engagement, which developed into On The Pitch With Bouda. 

“I’m a believer that you would be able to’t aspire to be what you don’t see. [Bouda] exhibits these children what’s attainable, regardless of your circumstances and the playing cards you’re dealt. Extra importantly, he’s proven at each stage of his taking part in profession the self-discipline, focus, drive and work ethic it takes to actually be nice,” Diep mentioned.