Soccer Star Joshua Meka Receives National Acclaim
Carla Peay | 10/22/2009, 8:48 a.m.
Many athletes dream of competing on an international stage. Twelve-year-old soccer star Joshua Meka has already achieved that dream. Joshua was chosen by People to People International for a 10-day trip to Vienna, Austria to play soccer with a squad of nationally recognized youth soccer players. He was also chosen as a SportsKid of the Month in the October issue of Sports Illustrated magazine.
Joshua€s mother, Sabrina Meka, was contacted by a reporter from the magazine who informed her that Joshua had been selected for the honor. Joshua€s photo and a short paragraph about his accomplishments appear in the magazine. The identity of the person who nominated him remains a mystery to both mother and son, who live in Northwest D.C.
€I was excited [about Sports Illustrated]. I was just as excited when he was selected by People to People to go overseas this summer. I am happy about his accomplishments,€ Meka said.
Joshua said his classmates were proud, and his teachers and the school librarian created a media blitz in school publications and on the school€s Web site.
€It was so cool. It was an amazing feeling,€ Joshua said of seeing his picture in a national magazine.
€I€ve been playing soccer ever since I could walk. My dad and my uncle would take me out onto a big soccer field and teach me how to dribble the ball. After a while, I just grew into it,€ Joshua said.
The sixth-grader attends Landon School in Bethesda, Md. He has played football, tennis and baseball, but soccer quickly became his sport of choice. Joshua calls soccer €one of his passions.€
€If I do play professional soccer, I would like to play for D.C. United, or play internationally for Brazil. They are one of the tops teams in the world. That would be a good place to learn,€ Joshua said.
Already adept at €social networking,€ Joshua follows his favorite soccer star, Freddy Adu, on Twitter. The two met when Adu played for D.C. United.
Joshua€s other passion is acting, and cites actress Raven Symone, formerly of €The Cosby Show€ and €That€s So Raven,€ as one of his favorites.
€She has amazing facial expressions,€ Joshua said. The aspiring actor has portrayed the part of a snake charmer in €The Jungle Book,€ a role created for him, €Moosehall Memories,€ a play dedicated to a former teacher, €Aladdin,€ and the title role in €Peter Pan,€ in performances at his school.
Already thinking about college, Joshua€s top two choices at the moment are the University of Maryland, and The Ohio State University.
As for the 10 days he spent in Austria, he called it €surprising,€ especially the cars and the food. As for the game itself, Joshua admits he was able to hold his own against the world€s best soccer players his age.
€I played my hardest. [The players] were way harder than I expected,€ Joshua said.
The tournament consisted of four games against four teams; three from Europe and one from the U.S. Joshua scored a goal on a fast break against the U.S. team. Joshua also got to train with Steve Sampson, a U.S. Olympic soccer coach, an experience which Joshua said improved his game. His trip was financed by corporate sponsors.
€When he got back, I noticed a whole new level of maturity,€ Meka said. €I was so proud of him.€