Whether it’s living in the same apartment in Manchester, N.H. or the same dorm room at Keene State College, first-year men’s soccer players Samuel Binogono and Promise Kpee have always had a strong bond on-and-off the field.
Samuel Binogono and Promise Kpee came to KSC early in the summer to partake in the college’s Links Program, a six-week program put on through the Aspire office that exposes first-time college students to the academic and social expectations of college, according to Keene.edu. Together, they have successfully transitioned from high school students to college athletes.
“I talk to them a lot,” Rick Scott, head coach of the men’s soccer team said.
“I spent a lot of time getting them here. The Links program was fabulous for them, it just gave them a step up to get used to campus and everything that’s available to them to help them succeed in the classroom,” Scott said.
Binogono and Kpee have been friends since 2008, when they both moved to the United States from Africa.
“We met in middle school, in seventh grade, because we took [an] English as a second language class together, so me and him [Binogono] were in that class because our English wasn’t that good and from there we’ve been friends,” Kpee said.
As students in a new school, not to mention a new country, learning a new language was the first challenge they faced.
“I did not know a single word of English. I had to start from the beginning, when I was 13. It was a real struggle. I started middle school in seventh grade and had no idea what anyone was saying,” Binogono said.
Aside from learning the English language, Binogono said the hardest part about it was the fact that he already speaks two other languages [Swahili and Kirundi] and is able to understand French. Both men have been playing soccer for as long as they can remember. “In Africa, everyone plays soccer. There’s no basketball courts anywhere, it’s always soccer, soccer, soccer. So you go outside and play soccer,” Binogono said. Aside from soccer, Kpee and Binogono said they are enjoying their time as freshmen in college “I love this place man, it’s so nice here! The soccer team is great. We all get along good together. I love it,” Binogono said.
“They are social guys so there has been no problem outside of soccer; they have made a lot of friends and have done great with the adjustment,” Scott said.
Going to college with a best friend can either go really well or not-so-good. For these two, it was easy.
“We just have so much in common, the competition between us in practice is very high, we played for different high schools. He played for a division one school [Manchester Central], I played for a division two school [Manchester West], so he’s always making fun of me for that and you know we just joke around with each other,” Kpee said.
“I’m not always with him because we have different friends, he goes out more and I have a girlfriend so I am usually with her,” Binogono said.
Kpee is enrolled in the safety and occupational program at KSC and Binogono is undecided about his major. Although they do different things off the field, on it, athletes can tell they’ve played together for some time.
“They play together very well, they might have a bit of an edge because of the past history,” Scott said.
“If I was playing on the opposite team, I would be able to predict how he’s going to play and he could do the same, we’ve known each other for that long,” Kpee said.
Kpee added, “It’d be hard not playing soccer with Sam, right now he’s injured and usually after practice we talk about each other and how we did in practice and stuff, and now I’m the only one playing so it’s different. I wish he were playing.”
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