Soccer, or Futbol, is an international popularity that has gone on for decades. According to the U.S. Soccer webpage, the United States Football Association was founded 1913 and was one of the first international organizations to be affiliated with FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.
It is an ongoing trend. The most recent World Cup has received the biggest hype seen in years, with nations all over the world not missing a game in hopes of being crowned the next greatest soccer team in the world.
But all of these well-known players and teams have to come from somewhere.
They all have a backstory and there are young players all over the world right now who are hoping to see themselves at a World Cup Tournament sometime in the future.
The Gulf Coast Texans, the semi-pro soccer team out of Pensacola, Florida, has acquired many players over the years, players with big dreams and each has helped with the progression of the team to grow into a W-League qualified squad.
Some of their players are internationally known.
One of them is Florence “Flo” Dadson, from Ghana, Africa; a twenty-two year old international soccer player, who has traveled all over the world with a soccer ball at her feet, challenging herself and discovering her full potential as a player.
Florence is a name with a Latin origin meaning “flourishing,” which is the definition of this young woman, who plays with heart, dedication and, what she believes, is natural talent.
She has been “flourishing” on the pitch since she was seven years old. A choice she made against her mother’s wishes knowing that it was deemed “inappropriate” in Ghana for young girls to play Futbol. It was a boy’s sport, but she believed her talent was a gift.
“I was seven years old when I started playing,” Dadson said. “I didn’t learn how to play, it was a natural gift from God. But it wasn’t always fun either; my mother wasn’t interested and she would get mad at me when I would come home injured.”
It took Dadson’s mother, Hagar Arthur, a while to accept that fact that her daughter was going to continue to play soccer while she was growing up.
“My mom has been supporting me ever since she accepted I can play futbol. She has been so supportive and has provided me with all I need,” Dadson said.
She didn’t have approval from everyone else, either. She was often made fun of on the pitch from the boys on her team but she let her actions speak for her and she showed them that she deserved to be on the field.
Dadson eventually made her way up the ladder and earned herself a spot on Ghana’s national team. She traveled to most countries in Africa as well as other European Countries such as Germany, Italy, Australia, Thailand, Japan and New Zealand.
She wore number nine, a number that triggers an emotional memory that she remembers like it was yesterday.
“My mom once bought me a t-shirt,” she said. “I used to take paint to write my name and the number nine on the back of it to wear while I played. She would get really mad. So when I had the chance to play for the national team, she presented me with the number nine on my jersey, I was really emotional and it was a dream come true.”
She was honored to be chosen to play for the national team. “There are a lot of good players in Ghana, but I had to represent my country,” she said.
She played in the FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament in 2008 and also played the U-20 FIFA World Cup in 2010 and 2012.
Like plenty of other famous players around the world, Dadson has endured her share of hardships along the road.
On Wednesday, May 28, 2014, her father passed away at the beginning of her 2014 season with the Texans. Three days later she scored a goal at the home-opener for the 2014 season against the Carolina Elite Cobras where they lost 2-1.
“I didn’t really grow up with my dad,” she said. “He was living in the Ivory Coast until he came back to Ghana later on. He never really got to watch me play either, so that’s why I am glad my mom has been so supportive.”
Losing her father was hard but it pushed her to play further, knowing that death is a natural occurrence. “Losing my father didn’t impact my play,” she said. “I know I can’t do anything about his death and so I had to let it go and I know we will meet again one day.”
Her ambition and patience allowed her to move to the United States after being scouted at the NAIA National Tournament by Kurt Melcher, the head coach at Robert Morris University. He gave her a full ride athletic scholarship and kept Dadson in check with her studies. “He’s one of the nicest people I have met,” she said. “He’ll always remain in my heart and has helped me push through my education. He also trained me on the field.”
Dadson moved to the Texans after playing for RMU where she got her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Health Science and her Associates degree in Exercise and sport studies.
Right now, Dadson plays forward, as she did when she played for the national team in Ghana. But her favorite position is mid-field.
“Mid-field is my favorite, but aside from Goal Keeper and defense, I can play any position,” she said. “Well, I can play defense too, but I like to dribble a lot and no coach wants to see a player dribbling at defense.”
“Flo is deadly in and around the penalty box,” Head Coach David Kemp said. “She has multiple ways of hurting the opponent and is a handful for everyone we play against.”
Aside from playing soccer, Dadson has another side to her that most people probably don’t know about.
“I am a Christian girl with ambition,” she said. “I don’t always like going out, but I do party some. And when I am alone, I like to think. I think about my future, even though I don’t know where it is going to take me. I think about success. I think everyone has their own destinies and no one’s is the same.”
She also likes to make people laugh. “I love people and I love to make people laugh,” Dadson explained. “I am not a comedian or anything, but I think life is too short to be sad.”
Kemp loves her personality off of the field as well. “Although she is our top goal scorer on the field,” he said, “she is tremendously funny off the field.”
Although things were going well for her 2014 season, Dadson recently tore her ACL in her left leg during her second to last home game against the Atlanta Silverbacks. She will be out the rest of the season. “It sucks being so young and talented and to get hurt like this,” she said. “I don’t want to be out the rest of my life, so I am going to rest up and get ready for next season.”
Dadson will undergo surgery in the near future and will take her time to heal for next year.
She finished with seven goals so far this season and is ranked in the top five players in points for the W-League. She has played 513 minutes and her potential is skyrocketing.
The Texans are ranked as the top team in the Southeastern Conference and will play the Charlotte Lady Eagles due to the changes their home field is undergoing.
Dan Bacharini, head manager for the Texans, took a positive approach to Dadson’s injury. “It could hurt us and it could kill us,” he said. “But we obtained a very good center from UWF who played in our away games last weekend, and we could really benefit from her. I hope Flo recovers soon and recovers well, we will need her next year.”
Talent and dedication are two characteristics that are necessary for a successful athlete. Dadson claims them both, pushing herself to extraneous limits and wanting nothing more than to be successful.
“With it all, I don’t know what my future holds,” she said. “I want to be a hero in Futbol. But more than that I want to be successful, and I think that’s all that matters.”