Patrick Kabuye has a burning passion for soccer. In fact, just the mention of the sport causes his eyes to light up.
He knows the game intimately and is now teaching his love of the sport to the boys' soccer team at Thomson High School as the new volunteer coach, serving under Head Coach Barry Arrington.
"I want to see the soccer program progress at Thomson High School - not for the short-term, but for the long-term," Kabuye said Monday during an interview with The McDuffie Mirror. "I want to inspire all of the soccer players at Thomson High School, as well as younger players interested in the game from all levels of the community."
Kabuye, who has lived in Augusta for the past year and a half, grew up in Uganda - a third world undeveloped country. He played soccer - or what is referred to there as football - for several years. He was an international youth player from 19 to 23 and went on to play Division I college soccer in the United States at Alabama A&M University. Kabuye also played semi-professional soccer with the El Paso Patriots in Texas.
Today, he is a personal sports trainer and volunteer coach with the Augusta Arsenal Soccer Program. Kabuye has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in kinesiology and sports studies. He also holds more than a half dozen certified soccer federation licenses, which allow him to coach different age groups throughout the United States.
"I want to refine the skills of the soccer players at Thomson High School," said Kabuye, noting that he believes the season will be highly successful based upon what he has seen thus far at practices the last three weeks. "I want us to be a sound team and to excel in all areas of the game - tactics, technical, mental toughness and conditioning."
Kabuye is a firm believer in team concept.
"Everybody has to feel a part of the soccer program at Thomson High School in order for the program to be successful," said Kabuye. "That includes the players, managers and the whole community getting behind the program and supporting it."
He says the Thomson team is "very disciplined and eager to work hard" in their quest to have a successful soccer season.
"Our team must play with a lot of heart and determination," added Kabuye.
When it comes to the words heart and determination, Kabuye understands that aspect of the sport as well as anyone.
While growing up in Uganda, Kabuye remembers living, dreaming, thinking and sleeping the hope of playing soccer.
"It was something we did 365 days a year," he recalled. "We played barefooted - we wore no shoes. Sometimes, we stumped our toes on rocks, causing them to bleed, but we still played. I would walk 5-10 miles sometimes to play soccer when I was a young boy."
The same passion that he had as a soccer player for so many years is the same kind of passion that Kabuye has in coaching today.
"The passion I feel for this sport is what drives me as a coach," said Kabuye. "I hope someday that same passion will help me land a job as a coach for a professional soccer team."
Kabuye said he is excited about his new volunteer coaching role at Thomson High School and said he'd like to thank Dr. John Bieltz and Principal Rudy Falana for giving him the opportunity to serve in that capacity.
His coaching philosophy is about "keeping it as simple as possible."
Kabuye has plans to teach several soccer clinics in Thomson during the next several months.
"I want to teach as many youngsters about the game of soccer as I can, so that it helps pave the road for future soccer play at Thomson High School," said Kabuye. "I want what I do here to be successful for many years down the road."