Kei Kamara plays for Norwich City in the English Premier League, arguably the best soccer league in the world. The Athlete Origin Story is one that never gets old, whether it’s from backyard rinks, playground hoops or farmyard homeruns, there’s always a fan appetite for the tales behind our favourite sports stars.
After reading hundreds of them, even though each has their particular charms, you do start to see similarities. We all know Michael Jordan was cut from the high school team. That Wayne Gretzky was actually taunted as a child for being too damn good on the ice. But Kamara’s story is different. The odds of becoming a soccer player in a top league like the EPL are infinitesimal. They get even lower when you’re from wartorn Sierra Leone.
Dave LaMattina directed a documentary that tells Kei’s story from refugee to national superstar.
Kamara’s mother immigrated to the U.S. when he was young to earn money to send back to the family. He joined her there when he was 16 and played soccer at California State University Dominguez Hills. He was picked 9th overall by the Columbus Crew at the 2006 Major League Soccer draft. Since then he’s played for the San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City. After becoming one of SKC’s top players, he was signed by Norwich this past January.
Known for his enthusiasm and all-around good nature, in February he became the first player from Sierra Leone to score a Premier League goal in a 2-1 win over Everton. Afterwards he told BBC Radio, “”It’s something you dream about. It can’t be written better than it’s going right now. I can’t believe it actually happened. It’s a blessing to be here.”
He also hasn’t forgotten where he comes from. Despite leaving the country at a young age, Kamara plays for Sierra Leone’s national team, and is always spreading the word about his homeland. LaMattina told the BBC, “He’s someone who keeps Sierra Leone very close to his heart and someone who is trying to spread a message that Sierra Leone is not the Sierra Leone of blood diamonds.”