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Two DCST Players Join D.C. United Academy
They began with African street soccer, "Fun Bunch" rec team

DC Stoddert’s travel program has 271 boys playing in the National Capital Soccer League, all of whom dream of playing at the highest level. Well, for two Stoddert travel players, that dream came true when Harold Tchameni and Aaron Rilling of the DCST Eagles were inducted to play this month in the D.C. United Academy. Both boys had benefited from training and playing under coach Sona Walla for the DCST U-17 Eagles, but how did they manage to take that major step from NCSL to Super Y League with DCU? While their respective routes started very differently, their soccer paths intersected when both played with the DCST Eagles and then joined Stoddert’s Advanced Training Program.



 Left to right: Harold Tchameni, Coach Sona Walla, and Aaron Rilling


Harold is originally from Douala in Cameroon, and played for a travel team there until two years ago when his family migrated to the United States. Brought up on street soccer, Harold says that his Camerounian travel team worked him very hard, with twice-a-ay training, three times a week. The game is very physical, and anyone who has played soccer in Cameroon or elsewhere in Africa knows the tackles are very hard and you have to be very strong to do well. That strength served Harold well when he moved to DC. The lack of high school soccer at Coolidge High School meant he was hungry for the challenge the Eagles offered him. He was then selected to participate in Coach Sona Walla’s Advanced Training Program (ATP). This provided additional high level training with Stoddert’s best U17 and U16 players, and proved the perfect launching pad for Harold. He impressed in a game the DCST ATP team played and beat the DCU Academy team. He was then invited to train with the Academy over the summer along with Aaron Rilling and two other Eagles players. Aaron and Harold were then selected for the Academy and Harold scored in a recent friendly against the English powerhouse Monkseaton Academy from Newcastle .





In comparison, Aaron’s start in soccer was closer to home, playing on his big brother’s U-5 Stoddert recreational team, the "Fun Bunch," when he was only three! That second sibling syndrome clearly helped Aaron be competitive at such a young age. He then progressed to his own age group recreational team, the "Blue Hornets," where he played until making the U-9 Eagles travel team with coach Sona Walla. Aaron, who is a slight but skillful mid fielder in the Cesc Fabregas mold, played with the Eagles for several years until Sona thought he needed to play at a different level so at around U13 he joined the DCST Red Force (now the Metros). Things didn’t work out there, so Aaron left to join a Potomac team but after a couple of years he realized that what he really needed was to rejoin the Eagles. After a good trial he did so in the Spring of 2008, also joining Harold in the Advanced Training Program that helped prepare him to joining the DCU Academy .




When I asked both boys what accounted for their success they both mentioned three things: 1) Hard work 2) Coach Sona and 3) the higher level of training the DCST Advanced Training Program provided under coaches Sona Walla and Mohammed Benani. When I asked Harold what advice he would give other Stoddert players he said “work hard and play your game.” Aaron characterized his game thus: “I’m patient on the ball, but then I’m incisive with my passing.” Well, I think that really does sum him up!


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