By Contributing Writer Russell Gurule
Allow me to introduce to you the newest member of the Albuquerque Sol, defender Tom Paul. Tom comes to us by way of Stalybridge, UK, a pleasant community full of rolling hills and lush greenery on the outskirts of the well known city of Manchester, England. The city is directly North of London, and just east of the famous port of Liverpool, which is also where our very own president Ron Patel hails from. Tom was quick to inform me that he and his family are Manchester City supporters. For those unfamiliar with the soccer scene in that area of the world, Manchester boasts two clubs, Manchester City, and Manchester United. Liverpool being close by, also supports two clubs, Everton FC and Liverpool FC which Tom likes neither, sorry Ron. Tom is loyal to the home team.
From talking to Tom, you can tell that his roots run deep in the sport with his father giving him an introduction to the game at an early age, and thus his soccer journey began in earnest. His dedication to the game has taken his journey across the expanse of the Atlantic to the prestigious University of Maryland-Baltimore, a school rich in academic tradition. Tom will be heading back next year for his senior year to finish off his studies in entrepreneurship and sociology, which he hopes will open up doors for future opportunities once this soccer journey is complete. So far, it’s been a wonderful ride as Tom was able to experience UMB’s NCAA Final Four appearance as a freshman.
I had to ask where he plans to take this soccer journey after college. As you would expect, the pros! Anywhere is the place where Tom wants to be and to shine. It doesn’t matter if it’s in his home country or here in the USA. That’s how Tom and fellow UMB teammate Sammy Kahsai have become the newest members of the Sol. Both were recruited by our esteemed Head Coach Matt Gordon. Tom gave an interesting insight into how the Sol of the PDL is different from the college game. The college game is physical and the PDL is more technical which has been very beneficial for Tom’s development. The training and the expertise that the Sol has to offer is what gave Tom the confidence to head out west. He plans to be back for another season with the Sol to continue the journey.
With any ambitious goals comes backup plans. Tom wants to play for as long as he can. Life after soccer comes with the desire to one day open a business and to coach. Those studies in entrepreneurship and sociology will definitely come in handy. To get to know Tom is to love sports and to have a key to the gym because that’s where he loves to go.
One of the most amazing things anybody can do is to make the transition from one country and its culture to come live in another country and adopt its culture. That is what Tom Paul has successfully done. Baltimore has been a wonderful experience for Tom. He has developed a love for Maryland’s crab cakes and the scenery of the East coast. So I had to ask how the change from the East coast to the desert Southwest has been. The first thing that comes to mind is the weather! Now there is one thing he hasn’t tried. New Mexico’s famous chile. But he has heard of christmas, the famous mix of red and green chile together. But one day soon, I’m sure he’ll get his chile experience. One of the aspects of being in another country is being far from family. Every time the Sol play on the pitch, Tom’s father and mother stay up until the wee hours of the morning to watch the live streams of their beloved son play for the Sol. What an experience it must be to watch your son play the game he loves thousands of miles away in another country.
Finally my go to question, who is your favorite player? Without a doubt and without a pause, Vincent Kompany comes to mind. Vincent is from Belgium, and a highly regarded defender and fan favorite for Manchester City. Known for his calming presence, Vincent is a player to model after. One thing is for certain, it was a pleasure talking to Tom. You can watch Tom and the rest of his teammates this week on June 15th at Ben Rios Field, St Pius X High School at 7PM. This will be a special night as the Sol will be raising money to fight against breast cancer. The theme for the night is Sol Sisters Girls Night Out. Bring all your friends, and I hope to see you there!