FRISCO – Although he has yet to see minutes with the first team, Francis Atuahene made an impact on MLS from the moment he was drafted.
It’s been nearly a year since Francis gave that unforgettable speech at the 2018 MLS SuperDraft in Philadelphia where he shared his path that started as a kid in the town of Techiman, Ghana to professional athlete. Atuahene has come a long way, but he never forgets his roots or takes for granted how far he’s come. And this December, he’ll return to his hometown for the first time in three years.
While he’s most excited to see the women who raised him, his mom and his granny, he’ll also be giving back. With a donation he organized with the FC Dallas Foundation, Francis will be taking 22 jersey tops and bottoms, 25 t-shirts, 20 soccer balls, and two ball pumps back to Ghana.
“I’ve always been the guy to always give back towards my community because I know the struggle back there," he said. "I know what people go through every day.”
It should also be noted that all of the soccer balls that Francis is taking to Ghana were donated by an ECNL U-15 player named Abigail Major, who collected soccer gear instead of gifts at her Quinceañera earlier this year.
"Since the day Francis arrived, he has stepped up and donated his time to our local community," said Foundation and Community Relations Coordinator, Brooke Leverette. "It was no surprise when Francis approached us about participating in our Gear Up Program. We are very honored and excited to be sending these items with him to Ghana."
Even so, Atuahene feels a responsibility to do more.
"I was thinking about it and I basically wanted to go back with some stuff and just coach my old club teams. There’s an orphanage there. I want to go visit and give them some gear and try and make their day a little bit better.”
Aside from being reunited with his family and giving back to the community, there’s one thing that Francis is looking forward to upon his visit—Ghanaian food. Specifically, jollof rice, a boiled rice dish with local spices.
“Ema [Twumasi] and I tried several times to make it, but yeah. we really suck at cooking.”
(left to right: Francis with his mom, with his granny, with his granny and cousins)
Atuahene will have about a month to enjoy the visit to his home country, but he’ll be accompanied by some first-time visitors—his American host family. This will be the first time that Francis’ host family and relatives back home will meet.
“My New York family, who I’ve been with for eight years have never been to Ghana, and they are coming for the first time,” he said with his trademark smile. “I’m even more excited about that to show them around because they’ve always known my story and my community from afar. But now they can witness it first-hand. I’m excited for that.”
To find out more about FC Dallas Foundation initiatives and how you can give back, visit their website.