Ibra Sanoh was standing on the UPEI soccer pitch in his first pro game Saturday with just minutes left and his team trailing by a goal when the team captain offered him one of the biggest opportunities of his life: Do you want to take the penalty kick?
"He came to me and said 'Do you want it?'" recalled Sanoh, a former standout with the Holland College Hurricanes.
"I said, 'Yeah sure I want it, but if you want to take it, you can have it.' And he said, 'No, do you want it, do you believe in yourself, do you want it?'
"And I said yes. He's like, 'Come on, you know this is your home, right, so go get it."
Sanoh blasted the ball to the back of the net to give the Halifax Wanderers a 2-2 tie with Pacific FC from Victoria, B.C., in the Canadian Premier League match.
He scored 101 goals with Holland College, but he'll always remember his first pro goal, if he didn't realize at the time.
It was after the game I actually realized that was my goal in the CPL and my first pro goal. — Ibra Sonah
"I was just in the mode of winning the game so I just picked up the ball and ran back in the middle to put it down. It was after the game I actually realized that was my goal in the CPL and my first pro goal."
Sonah said when he got the call to go into the game midway through the second half, it was like he was "still dreaming."
"In my head I just wanted to get in and try to equalize and maybe even get a goal and win the game. That was my main focus because I didn't want us to lose."
His family was watching from his home country of Guinea, and his mom called him after the game to congratulate him.
It was nice, given that there were no fans in the stands cheering due to COVID-19 restrictions.
'Weird' not hearing cheers
"It's kind of weird not hearing all the people cheering and screaming and making noise and you can hear everything going on on the field," he said.
Sonah will have a tough act to follow Wednesday night when the Wanderers play their second game, against Forge FC from Hamilton.
The CPL is playing a shortened season in Charlottetown. Each of the eight teams will play a round robin with the top four teams advancing to the semifinals.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of.
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