Senior Nduwayezu Nkurunziza scores camaraderie, soccer in Evanston
Nduwayezu Nkurunziza feels right at home with the Evanston soccer team.
The Rwandan born senior, who once called a Democratic Republic of the Congo refugee camp home, has become a quick mainstay for the Wildkits since migrating with his family to the U.S. three years ago.
Through all the change and struggle, soccer has been a constant for the versatile star.
“Since I was born, I’ve played nothing else,” Nkurunziza told the Chicago Tribune. “I’ve played for fun, and it’s also great for the competition.”
Evanston coach Franz Calixte has come to depend on Nkurunziza’s skills and pedigree ever since elevating him to the varsity team as a sophomore. Over the last two seasons, Nkurunziza has been key in leading the Wildkits to back-to-back supersectional appearances.
“He’s the real deal,” Calixte told the Tribune. “He’s such a good soccer player, but it’s also been great to see him grow more comfortable away from soccer.”
With each passing day, Nkurunziza seems to grow a little bit more comfortable in his newfound surroundings. Sophomore midfielder Eric Cyiza is also from Rwanda and the two have instantly become pals. The two also have a close connection with fellow teammate Dominique Bahombwa, a junior forward from Tanzania.
The trio often reflects on how far they’ve come and how different things are from the way they were in their homelands.
“We would just play on dust and grass back home, not these nice fields,” Nkurunziza said of Lazier Field. “The conditions are much different. I never thought I’d be in the United States. But now that I am, I’m happy to be here.”