Prince Amanda’s professional debut was an unforgettable episode in the Canadian Premier League’s first season.
An 18-year-old, playing for his hometown club FC Edmonton, finally sees the pitch in the team’s last home game of the year, and steals the show — his goal and assist securing a 3-1 victory over Pacific FC to break a 12-game winless skid.
It’d be hard to script it better than that.
“I told myself this may be the only chance that I have to prove myself,” Amanda told CanPL.ca.
“After scoring the goal everything just felt so surreal. I was there, but I really wasn’t. After that goal, it’s hard to explain, but it just took me to a different place. I just felt like everything went right.”
Having moved to Alberta from Tanzania at age 11, Amanda is happy to call himself an Edmontonian now, which made it all the sweeter for him to debut for the Eddies last October.
“Edmonton does have a special place in my heart,” Amanda said in describing how it felt to play for the city he’s called home for almost nine years. “It really meant a lot to play for my hometown, especially playing around my friends, family — the people I grew up with, went to school with.”
Amanda followed his 20th-minute goal with an assist just five minutes later, introducing himself to the Clarke Field faithful with considerable gusto. His stunning debut was enough to draw serious praise from across the CPL, as well as from his coach Jeff Paulus — who memorably quipped that “It’s only taken me 27 games to figure out I’ve got a winger.”
That first appearance was a while in the making, though; Amanda languished on the bench all year, biding his time. Having played in the Eddies academy for three years before that, Amanda was willing to wait, trusting Paulus enough to give him his chance eventually. Still, his patience was tested.
“I think as an athlete, yeah it would be frustrating, because all you want to do is just get on the field,” Amanda said. “But in my mind, I had two games left to prove myself, so whatever happens, happens. I’m just gonna show what I’ve got for this game.”
Now that he’s proven he can perform at the pro level (once, at least), Amanda is hoping he’ll factor into Paulus’ plans more in the 2020 season. Although the Eddies have added some new faces in the wide attacking positions (Hanson Boakai chief among them), the fact that Paulus is so intent on playing a certain style should give Amanda some more opportunities.
“I’ve worked with Jeff for a long time, I know he does like his wingers,” Amanda said. “He always lets me know what my role is as a winger and what I need to perfect, I feel like it does favour me. I’ve known him for a long time, his tactics come easier to me than sometimes a new player coming in.”
He added: “I feel like I’ll be getting more chances now, I do feel like I’m going to show myself more as a soccer player playing in that position. More goals, more assists, just anything to help the team win.”
Amanda is also encouraged by Paulus’ vocal commitment to developing young (especially Edmonton-based) players, which should further tip the scales in his favour.
“It is reassuring, Jeff does like young talent,” Amanda said. “Every time we’re training, sometimes he brings a few guys from the academy and he tells us this could be the next young talent. So he does like the youth, and developing them into a professional atmosphere.”
The 2019 season wasn’t necessarily filled with perfect results and exciting moments in Edmonton, but Amanda was definitely able to provide at least one. As the club prepares to get back on the pitch for 2020, he’s hoping he can produce a few more.