31 Aug The Rise of Salah
By Paul Guarino
In 2014, Salah Oumorou moved from the West African nation of Togo to West Haven, Connecticut. A culture shock to say the least. He knew little to no English–but he did know soccer. And soon, the U.S. soccer world would know his name.
Salah entered his first year at West Haven High School as a sophomore and quickly found a place on the pitch with the Blue Devils soccer team. Head Coach, Pete Hamasian—a first year coach at the time—was immediately impressed with Salah’s ball control, speed, and ability to control the game. After easily making the varsity roster, he proved to be a dominant force in his first season scoring 23 goals with 4 assists in 18 games. With these numbers, Salah was awarded the New Haven Register All Area MVP, All-State, and helped lead his team to a 13-4-1 season. 2015 was even more impressive–the star forward tallied 31 goals and 5 assists, was named New Haven Register Area MVP and All-State for the second consecutive season. To cap it off, the West Haven Blue Devils finished with a strong 12-5-4 record while Salah received All-New England honors.
In two seasons at West Haven, Salah Oumorou scored 54 goals, was a two-time All-Area MVP, two-time All-State selection, and an All-New England selection.
After two tremendous seasons, all the accolades and awards, Salah had zero college offers.
If a player of this caliber played at one of the wealthier private schools it goes without saying that colleges would be knocking his door down with scholarship offers. Unfortunately for Salah, attending a public school with no premier league affiliations, this was not the case. After 2 years of dominating in the Southern Connecticut Conference and playing in Class LL (the largest in Connecticut) he and his coaches had yet to receive any calls from Division I schools and attracted only slight interest from a handful of Division II and III coaches. With the lack of resources offered and the financial restraints of his particular situation, the options to create exposure for Salah were extremely limited. There was no way Salah’s unlimited potential could fade away as yet another undiscovered talent.
I was substitute teaching at West Haven High School when I realized the potential in Salah and knew my social media platforms could help put him on the map. I’ve made videos before that only took about a week. I assumed making Salah’s video would be the same. Boy I was wrong, Coach Pete and I hit a lot of roadblocks to get the film. One of the players lost one of the memory cards with most the 2014 season on it. Another player had the film on his computer and uploaded it to Google drive which took a couple days. I also had to search for videos and rip them from different sites. Finally after 3 weeks I took all of his game film from various outlets and created him a highlight video. I told Pete I’d get the video to him by the following week. I finished the video in 2 days and Pete loved it. Then I uploaded it to YouTube with the hope that letting people see Salah in action would create a buzz. The end goal is to allow people the opportunity to share this video and at some point it would end up in the hands of someone who could make a difference.
This hope and what seemed like a prayer paid off faster than anyone could have ever imagined. After a few days the video got over a thousand views and everyone was talking about his highlight video at the high school. The number of views didn’t matter, but the email and calls Coach Pete was getting did. After the first week every DI school in Connecticut was contacting Coach Pete about Salah. By week two schools from Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida were calling. Salah went from zero DI offers to a ton of DI schools very interested after a month of the video being published.
“PG Sports is much more than a sports apparel company, it is a platform for athletes, coaches, and PEOPLE who are chasing a dream. This is something that many people don’t know when seeing the company from the outside.” – Peter Hamasian
Not knowing what to do or where to go Salah turned to his coach and mentor Pete. Coach Pete thought it would be best for him to go to the University of Connecticut so he can stay close to his family and friends. Salah agreed and loved his visit to UConn so he verbally committed in the winter of 2016. He had an amazing opportunity this summer to play with a Florida club team and excelled again scoring multiple goals versus current college players. His team was ranked as high as 4th in the nation this summer. Now going into his senior year of high school, recently being named to the preseason All-USA team by USA Today, Salah hopes to bring a state champion title to West Haven High School.
The power of social media is real!
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