Meet Junior, your favorite amateur club’s star striker

Motorik FC Alexandria are one of the more popular amateur soccer clubs in the country. A large portion of that is due to their stances on inclusivity, the fight for racial equality, and more social issues, including collaborating with The Plastics SG on a kit to benefit the Afghan American Women’s Association. Beyond that role as a vessel for social justice, they also handle their business on the pitch. Over the last year, Motorik FC have been led by a gifted striker from Ghana.

Naftali Gadri Jr. grew up in Accra, Ghana before moving to the USA when he was 18 years old. “Ghana will always be special, that’s my home and it’s a fun place. The people are great, the food is the best, and the culture is unmatched,” Junior told BGN, suggesting that everyone should visit the African nation. In regards to that food that he described as the best, he said his favorite Ghanaian meal would be jollof with spicy goat meat. 

It was back in Ghana that Motorik’s star watched some of the forwards that have shaped the soccer world. “I grew up watching the original Ronaldo, (Thierry) Henry and (Ruud) van Nistelrooy since I always wanted to be a striker. Soccer keeps changing so my favorites currently will be Messi, Ronaldo and Lewandowski, and I keep learning from them,” he said.

Junior also acknowledged legendary strikers from his native Africa, like George Weah and Samuel Eto’o, who he said gave him hope that he could be up there someday. Which striker does his own game resemble the most? “That’s a tough question. I’ll say Samuel Eto’o; fast striker, clinical and good in the air,” he answered.

His ultimate goal is to play at the highest level, but the 22-year-old is currently focused on helping Motorik get promoted and keep advancing higher. Over the weekend, he added another goal in a big win for the club. He has scored 12 goals in 12 matches since joining Motorik. “I feel great. I’m happy to contribute to the team’s victory,” he said. “We have a good group and all our hard work in training is showing on the field.”

One of the special things about Motorik FC is its fan base, boasting over 3,000 Twitter followers. Because of the stances mentioned at the start of this article, they have supporters all over the country despite being an amateur side playing in Maryland. Discussing that wide-reaching fan base, Junior said, “It feels great especially in our modern climate and with all that’s going on. It’s just so cool to know others share the same ideas and support them.”

“It makes you feel part of something good and creates a safe space for you,” he added in regards to playing for a club that stands for those important social issues. “Nothing better than feeling supported and involved in something that helps others and points out ways we can all grow together.”

His message to all of the fans, local and around the United States? “We appreciate the support and the love showed towards us. (We) will try our very best on the field as a team and I look forward to a great season.”

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.