Abdul Knight achieves captaincy for Panama’s national team after taking part in a Marcet Soccer Camp.
For every pass, shot, and centre, Abdul’s thoughts are with Axel. Axel was always a powerful core of motivation for Abdul’s path towards professional football. Naturally, after passing away his flame of inspiration burned brighter than ever. Axel sees his brother through every practice and every match. His words of encouragement echo in Abdul’s mind everywhere he goes. Panama, Spain, America…
Now in El Salvador, where Abdul Knight has reached a zenith in his sporting career, captaining Panama’s national side in the under-16s Uncaf Cup. A spot hard to beat at only fifteen years of age. But Abdul hasn’t had it easy to get to where he has come. In just a few months, the blueprint for his progress in the footballing world has changed drastically. One doesn’t have look further than the collection of stamps in his passport to come to grips with the sheer amount of experience accumulated under his belt in under a year.
At the dawn of 2017, Adbul was playing in Asociación Deportiva Andina FC, a renowned football academy for many humble Panamanian families. “It all started for us when he was five”, Antonio Pinzón recalls. The club’s president calls to attention the young midfielder’s accomplishments in championships of different inferior categories, persistently standing out for his dedication and technique, in a country infamously difficult to progress in concerning football due to its lack of insight and infrastructure.
“I found out that in February there’d be a Marcet Soccer Camp in Panama”, explains Pinzón. It was the first time a European football academy touched Central American soil. Asociación Deportiva Andina’s president immediately saw what this event could potentially bring to the table in terms of opportunity for the footballers at his school. “I initially discovered Marcet through a friend who’s a journalist and sports analyst. What really caught my attention were their ideals and code of conduct, something that really aligned with how we function. I was pleased to find out that in that respect both institutions were completely in sync”.
Thanks to Pinzón, Abdul was able to take part in the Soccer Camp and ended up being a prominent presence as one of its best participants. For that very reason, he earned himself a scholarship that brought him to Barcelona in May where he trained at Marcet’s High Performance Academy for a few weeks. An experience he shared alongside a handful of other Panamanians and that is gone into more detail in the following video (Spanish language):
Barcelona wasn’t Abdul’s only Spanish destination. After his experience at Marcet, the young Panamanian had the opportunity of training at Córdoba CF’s facilities for a couple of weeks. Valuable experiences coming together to make way towards earning Abdul a name for himself in the footballing scene back at home.
The moment he made it back, Abdul received a grant from Academia Delval, directed by Jorge Dely Valdés and his brother Julio César, a genuine local treasure who has worked with acclaimed European teams such as Paris Saint-Germain FC, Cagliari Calcio and Real Oviedo, as well as having been named best Panamanian sportsperson of the twentieth century.
The midfielder’s time spent at this football academy would be of paramount importance to his career as an athlete because Jorge Dely Valdés is also a manager in inferior categories of his federation. So naturally, when the time came to prep the international under-15s tournament in the USA, the technical director had no doubts in talking Abdul with him and handing over the captain’s armband. Few months had gone by since Abdul’s participation in Marcet’s Soccer Camp back in February and already his sporting career prospects had changed radically. Only, the best was yet come and El Salvador would be the stage.
In November of 2017, the Central American country hosted the Under-16s Uncaf Cup. The Panamanian team, lead by Abdul, started off on the right foot beating Costa Rica 4-1, one of the region’s most respected rivals. “I couldn’t have hoped for a better result, but we made it happen thanks to focus and concentration”, explains the captain in an interview on-pitch (Spanish language):
Everything that’s happened these past few days is just history… and to think of what might lie ahead… As much as it looks as though Abdul’s future is smiling at him, he continues to conceive every match as an homage to his brother Axel. It’s by virtue of his guidance that Abdul has become the under-16s national side’s captain. “We have to keep pushing forward, we have to keep winning”, he said after his victory against Costa Rica. It looks like Abdul’s passport is going to be seeng more and more stamps soon enough.