Fowler boys soccer overcomes the odds in state title quest
The Fowler Falcons have already achieved school history by winning a Section III championship.
Frankly, that history making feat was mighty impressive as the Falcons battle all sorts of obstacles on and off the field.
Fowler features players from 8 countries outside the United States, so it should come as no surprise there's a bit of a language barrier with the boys.
"The biggest thing is, we all love soccer and soccer has united us together" said Titan Batikima, a junior for the Falcons.
"We don't communicate a lot with language, but, because of soccer, (we have) been brought together...it's cool" he adds.
It's true- the players hail from Congo (like Titan does), Burma, Thailand, Iraq, Yemen, Ivory Coast, Liberia, and Kenya. Making It pretty incredible that the Falcons not only have already won Section III but now- Fowler is just two games away from a New York State Championship. They play at Middletown High School in the downstate area Saturday morning and hopefully, with a win in that game will be in Sunday's title game at Middletown.
"It's amazing, you know, from all the way back (the school) has never done this. I think it's a blessing" says Mupenzi Kabera, who is originally from Congo.
Pretend for a moment, that the language barrier wasn't there. Imagine if, Head Coach Chris Pelligra didn't have to mesh players from many different nationalities and backgrounds together. Then factor in that Fowler is situated on Syracuse's near-west side which is one of the poorest neighborhoods in town. Certainly, that adds a completely different dimension to this team, and makes it that much more amazing that this team is on the cusp of legendary status.
"There are many, many personal issues" says Pelligra. "I'm sure the players don't want me to get into them, but, there are many, and they are real life situations" he adds.
The challenging odds are nothing new to this team though. Players tell me that in their native countries they used to sneak out of the house and find secluded places to play the game they love--soccer.
The fields, they they said, weren't what they play on here in Syracuse but rather concrete or sand fields. Wherever they could find the place to play.
So, they found a way to play, found a way to escape to the United States, and continue to find ways to be among the best players in the state despite whatever issues come from living on the near west side.
Something tells me that, Port Chester, the team's opponent on Saturday, doesn't scare the Falcons very much.