Keola Paredes Signs with Thamesmead Town Football Club in England
2016 Kamehameha Schools Maui graduate Keola Paredes signed a contract today to play soccer for Thamesmead Town Football Club in England.
6’2″ Paredes is a goalkeeper. He becomes the first Hawaiian in recent history to play soccer for a team in any division of English soccer.
While on Maui, Paredes played for a number of different clubs including Manuia, the Makawao Bulldogs and Maui Elite; and was a starter for three years at KS Maui. During his time at the Pukalani campus, Paredes was part of the KS Maui team that finished 3rd in the state three out of four years and went unbeaten for two and a half years. Before leaving for England, Paredes trained with Aleks Filipovic at Valley Isle Soccer Academy in Kīhei.
Paredes said he moved to England in an effort to attend a university and study sport and exercise science as well as further his playing career. He also set a goal of obtaining his UEFA coaching licenses (the Union of European Football Associations, the body that governs European Soccer).
Paredes said his coach at Thamesmead, Gary Ryan, is helping him to work towards his coaching licenses through the “Envisage” apprenticeship scheme.
“I’m currently doing coaching training with the English Football Association and studying at professional teams such as West Ham United and Charlton Athletic. I’d like to help give more kids from Hawaiʻi the opportunity to get exposed to the training environment of European soccer at a young age because from what I’ve seen the talent level is the same,” Paredes told Maui Now in an email communication.
Although thousands of miles away, Paredes says that often times he doesn’t event notice the distance at all because he’s so busy between school, coaching, training and playing. But, “When things mellow out though, it is a bit difficult,” he said. “I miss the warm climate a lot, I love nature and plants and animals. I miss the food, especially home cooked meals after a long day. I think the hardest thing to adjust to was that I’ve played soccer with the same group of friends my whole life, so not having them around just didn’t feel right at first. I always have people sending me messages encouraging me and people that believe in me and that helps so much.”
The team that Paredes signed with is called Thamesmead Town F.C., a semi-pro team, that is looking to move its way up the English Football ladder.
“Their leagues are very different to America, because here if you win your league, you get promoted, moved up to the next division higher. Thamesmead is trying to develop young players to do this, and it feels great to be involved in the project,” said Paredes.
Paredes credits his growth and drive to the people and leaders who surrounded him during high school.
“At Kamehameha, our Principal Mrs. Kaawa is the person who gave me the confidence to pursue my dream and move to England. She called me into her office one day for no reason other than to tell me that she saw potential in me and that she believed in me. I respect her a lot, so to hear that meant quite a bit and that’s when I began to believe that I could make it happen,” said Paredes.