When midfielder Mike Azira is narrating his life journey thus far, you get the feeling that he was determined to excel against all odds.
Now playing with the Colarado Rapids in the American Major League Soccer, Azira left Uganda aged 19 years old for greener pastures in the United States.
He shared his experience with Richard Clarke in an exclusive interview that first ran on the Rapids’ official website.
The Business studies graduate from the University of Mobile attests;
Life was going out to play soccer for the entire day in the streets. When the cars come you just put away the goals.
The car moves and you put them back and play again.
So we always played outside, that’s why I have never played video games
Azira, who is comfortable in central defense and midfield positions first played at Lindsey Wilson College in Kentucky, winning one championship in three seasons.
He shifted base at the University of Mobile team, USL Combine, Chaleston Battery F.C before switching allegiance to Seattle Sounders football club.
Serving two different masters at one go was never an easy decision for Azira but he succeeded given his strong will power;
It wasn’t easy. It takes a lot of work and decisions.
When you get to college there’s a lot of things going on around you. There are people drinking a lot and smoking.
So it’s decisions like ‘where do I want to be in my life?’ I always had that in mind in the back of my head, I needed to earn my degree.
You can’t just come here to waste time and just play around.
“After I completed my degree I thought let’s focus on soccer. I wanted to play at the highest level possible” he adds.
The proud father of one, a 4 month son acknowledges the positive reception he was accorded by Rapids teammates and the coaches.
The guys are really positive and the attitudes are really great.
The coaches have been really helpful trying to get the information across to everybody and what they want from everybody.
You do not see big egos around. Kevin Doyle is good, Sam Cronin is good, Bobby Burling is a good guy.
Marco Pappa is a good player. He has a good left foot and if you’re under pressure, just pass him the ball and he will take care of it.
He’s such an amazing player and we’re lucky to have him.
The former Sports Club Villa player is still in the plans of the national team selectors especially as regards Uganda Cranes’ desperate quest to qualify for AFCON 2017 in Gabon as the 2018 World Cup qualifiers come knocking.
Azira is indeed moving places given his humble background from a little boy who played the banana fibre ball around the streets to a confident complete player who controls the ball easily, passes with ease, involves teammates, shoots at goal and scores often.
He is one person never to forget his roots, harboring a big plan of a big foundation back in Kampala to assist in offering free education to the under privileged in the community.