TWIN FALLS — Dreams of college soccer increasingly crystallized for Sagar Bhattarai and Abdelgadir Mohamed over the last few years. Last week, their goals were finalized, and they’ll be taking their next steps together.
Bhattarai and Mohamed both signed with the Laramie County Community College men’s soccer program this past Thursday. The Canyon Ridge High School seniors received full-ride scholarships, they said, and they plan to be roommates when they get to Cheyenne, Wyo., in the fall.
“(Mohamed) was a big factor because we’ve been friends ever since he came here,” Bhattarai said after Thursday’s signing ceremony. “We’ve been playing together for a long time. We’ve scored a lot of goals together.”
Bhattarai and Mohamed received several offers from other college soccer programs, including Spokane CC, but few of them offered full-ride scholarships, they said. The full-ride offers from Laramie County CC played major roles in their signings.
The seniors were also impressed with the Golden Eagles’ recent track record of success, and they saw signs that the two-year program could vault them to a four-year school.
Bhattarai and Mohamed went on a visit to Laramie County CC about three weeks ago, and they felt welcomed by the soccer coaches and players.
“The way they treated us, we knew we were gonna go there,” Bhattarai said.
Bhattarai plans to play attacking midfield for the Golden Eagles, while Mohamed will play left back.
Growing up, Mohamed knew he could play at a higher level, but college wasn’t on his radar. He was born and raised in Egypt, and about three years ago, he came to Twin Falls via the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center.
“When I got here, I was very confident,” he said. “When I was in Egypt, I used to be one of the best on my teams, one of the best of my friends. I thought it was gonna be easy. But then I played my first game, and I realized how hard it is.”
Perhaps the most difficult part of high school soccer to Mohamed as a freshman was the pace of play. His soccer ability was subdued by his lack of stamina.
So Mohamed worked on his conditioning the next few years, and the results showed. He was one of Canyon Ridge’s top goal scorers in each of the past two seasons, and he earned all-Great Basin Conference second-team nods as a junior and senior.
Bhattarai was the GBC’s co-offensive player of the year in 2016, and he earned a first-team selection this past season.
Although Bhattarai has lived in the United States a couple more years than Mohamed has, he had smaller soccer aspirations as a child. He lived in refugee camps growing up in Nepal, playing casually with soccer balls cobbled together with paper and plastic.
“There weren’t many goals to plan for, to look forward to. We played sometimes, but it wasn’t like how it is here,” he said. “Ever since I came here, I realized there was an opportunity to do something bigger that I couldn’t have done in Nepal.”
Like Mohamed, Bhattarai worked on his soccer skills, and he became one of the Magic Valley’s best players. He said Canyon Ridge varsity boys soccer coach Corey Farnsworth played a big role in his improvement.
Bhattarai and Mohamed learned about college soccer soon after reaching the United States, and that instantly became their ultimate goal. Last week, they achieved it.
“This means everything to me,” Mohamed said. “My main goal when I stopped playing high school was to continue my playing in college and get to the next level. I did my best. I took every opportunity that I had in my hands to take advantage of it. So I’m pretty excited for college soccer.”