With thirteen goals in his first two matches in the Inter League, Abu Fofanah (25) gives a strong signal. This is also necessary, because the left-wing American builder Volendam wants to live up to his talk.
Fofana’s relocation to northern Holland is less surprising than expected. Since Mark Ortega came to Volendam, the connection to the United States has been strong. “I first called Mark in February. We know each other from the American team,” Fofana explains.
The almost two-meter shooting was under a contract with the French SCO Angers, the second class of France. Fofana speaks the country’s language fluently. “When I was eight, I moved from the United States to France with my mother. I started playing handball when I was 14. I did it in Toulouse.”
In the coaching team of the professional club Phoenix Toulouse, the tall left builder was first noticed. “Then I emailed the American Federation to ask if I could come in for an internship,” Fofana says. He has played for several youth teams. Then the A-internationals followed. “I have been able to call myself internationally for two years now. We were supposed to go to the World Cup in January, but that was canceled due to a team injury.”
Fofana talks to the interviewer from a café in Volendam. He took his four-year-old son to school. “I live in Amsterdam with my family. That’s OK. I wanted to play outside France,” says Fofana. “I had many offers, but after the conversation with coach Mark I wanted to try it in the Benny-League.”
The experience is great
“The people at Volendam have welcomed me very well. I also like the level of the team. It takes some getting used to that we are not professionally involved in the sport, but when we are at Volendam we do our best to give the best performance possible. I try to contribute to that in my own way, Both on and off the field,” says Fofana.
He starts to laugh a little. Together with circuit player Alex Benderis, Fofana sometimes tries to lure his teammates out of the tent. “The sports culture in America is great. The experience is great. Unlike in Europe, where athletes are often more humble. Then they don’t explode quickly. That works differently for us as Americans.”
“I like trash talk. It puts pressure on the opponent, especially myself. Then I have to finish my speech. When I start bragging, it also motivates me not to leave it at that,” Fofana explains playfully. “Boys from Volendam could use a little self-confidence.”
In the first two matches, Volendam showed that they are a team to be reckoned with. The Vizi match was held at 30-30, and this past weekend Fofana, his seven-time top scorer and companions, had the longest finish against Bivo (31-29). “Volendam wants to play for trophies again. That’s what I was told when I arrived. The good guys have been brought in.”
Fofana speaks with a strong American accent. A little French can be heard in the cumulative class at Volendam. “I can work well with Florent Bourget. Then we communicate in French. I really think he is a good playmaker,” says Fofana. Bourget came from France a few years ago and has a dual passport. “He put me in a good position in the first matches in the Benny League. Am I going to be top scorer? It doesn’t matter. I participate in a team sport and therefore our combined performance is very important. This is also an American.”
Fofana hopes for the fourth final of the Grand Cross-Border competition. “I’ve been signed here for a year. I want to experience what it is like outside of France,” concludes the left-wing builder of Volendam. “If my family and I like it here, we can easily add another year. or two.”
Photo: Tina Kalthof
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