North Toronto CI student Kembo Kibato’s Achilles heel during the Canada Games was his injury. Literally.
The 18-year-old midfielder injured himself during the national games that ran from July 28 to Aug. 13. But in true competitive fashion, he played through the pain in his heel and helped his team go undefeated.
“I still played, but it was a little annoying,” he admitted, while seated on the concrete steps of his school’s field. “I wasn’t playing at my highest level. In the end, we won and that’s all that mattered.”
His path to making the team was first set when his North Toronto League 1 coach, Hermann Kingue, suggested he try out for Team Ontario.
That was in March, and for the next three days he would play with the team in Quebec. The troupe only had a few weeks to connect, and that posed as the challenge for the squad.
“(The challenge) off the pitch was being together and staying as a team, making sure everyone was on time and not goofing around,” he admitted. “On the pitch, the main problem was working together because we were from all parts of Ontario. I think we didn’t have enough time.”
Still, the team came together to beat Prince Edward Island, 3-1, and Alberta, 1-0, in the round robin to advance. The greatest battle was the one Nova Scotia provided for Ontario in the quarters, a 1-1 tie that was won on penalties (4-2).
After that, it was a 2-0 win over Quebec in the semis and a 1-0 victory over Alberta in the finals.
“I was just happy and amazed that we had done it. Our coaches helped us a lot,” Kibato said. “We all wrote down our goals, and different things that make us in the family.
“Everyone in the room said their goal was to win gold.”
Soccer has been a passion that has grown with Kibato, he said. Dig into his past and he’ll tell you it was his mom, Musonda Kidd, who got him started. The two would play soccer at the park when he was four.
Naturally, the passion doesn’t stop with one parent. Kembo’s father, Martinho Kibato played professional soccer in Bad Homburg and Offenbach.
What’s next for the younger Kibato is pursuing his goal of representing Canada at the national level, and pursuing a future with Major League Soccer. Oh, and senior year at North Toronto CI.
“Going forward, I’ve been asked to do trials with TFC,” he said. “If I do well there, we’ll see where we go from there. It opens a lot of doors.”