Surrey’s Nicho (Nicholas) Prasad wearing the Fijian soccer team jersey while in Vancouver recently. (submitted photo)

SOCCER

Surrey’s proud Prasad plays internationally with Fijian soccer team, plans return to Germany

Enver Creek grad, 23, wore the country’s colours for pair of ‘friendlies’ in March

Nicho Prasad’s soccer journey has taken him from Surrey to Germany and, most recently, to Fiji for a pair of “friendlies” with that country’s national team.

The six-foot-two defender, 23, plays for SpVgg Bayreuth in the Regionalliga, the fourth tier in Germany’s league system.

In March, the Enver Creek Secondary grad jumped at the chance to attend the Fijian national team’s training camp, following an invitation from head coach Christophe Gamel and ahead of exhibition matches against New Caledonia and Mauritius.

Prasad, whose parents were born in Fiji before they moved to Canada, played in both games, on March 18 and 24, respectively.

Afterward, Prasad returned to Surrey to train and rehab the calf muscle he strained in the game against New Caledonia.

“I finished the game and played in the second, too, and fortunately I did well despite the injury and we managed to came away with two wins,” Prasad reported.

Having signed a professional contract in Germany, Prasad said he “no idea” that the Fijian national team was interested in him.

“But over there (in Germany) I received a surprise email asking if I’d be interested, and playing nationally is something I’ve always dreamed of.”

In Fiji, Prasad played both games in front of family and friends.

“My dad flew out to watch both games, and I gave out 72 tickets for the game, quite a few, including some for my grandparents, who are in their 80s and still live in Fiji. To have them in the stands was unbelievable.”

Born in Edmonton, Prasad moved to Surrey at age three. As a Grade 11 student, he captained Enver Creek’s senior boys team to a provincial soccer title in 2012 and, in the process, caught the attention of the Vancouver Whitecaps. Prasad then signed a youth contract with the academy and played at various levels of the ‘Caps organization before accepting a full-ride scholarship to Seattle University Redhawks, who play in NCAA’s first division.

“In 2017,” Prasad said, “I played my final season and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. Despite various offers to play professionally in North America, I decided to pursue my dream of playing professionally in Europe.”

In a biography, Prasad calls himself “a dynamic defender. I capable of playing center back, full back or as a holding midfielder. I am an athletic player and I have the ability to play out of the back.”

He says he’ll return to play in Germany as soon as he’s finished his work here with strength and conditioning coach Ibby Ali, who also trains Fleetwood-raised MMA fighter Jeremy Kennedy.

“Hopefully I’m healthy again soon,” Prasad said. “I’ve been back here in Surrey for about a week and half. I’m never really home and when I do come back, we go for a lot of dinners and catch up, because there’s so much to catch up on, with my family and my friends.”

Come July, Prasad could return to the Fijian team lineup for the Pacific Games, to be played in Samoa.

“It’s not the most typical path, no,” Prasad said when asked about his soccer-related travels.

“This is the life I chose and I’m blessed to be living that life.”

Samantha Savoy, an analyst for a Vancouver Whitecaps youth program, brought Prasad’s story to the attention of the Now-Leader in an email.

“It is very important that the public hears of this achievement,” Savoy wrote. “This is a great example of an individual who stops at nothing to make their dreams a reality. I hope that this story can reach the youth in the community. Nicholas is proud of his Canadian background and his upbringing in Surrey.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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