When I think about teens doing exceptional things, I think of them as going out of their “safe zones.” In Omar Jallow’s case, that “safe zone” is Issaquah Highlands. An excellent soccer player, Omar is moving from Issaquah Highlands to Spain in September to pursue a professional soccer career.
Omar has played soccer since a young age, getting better every year. As a kid, he played a lot of sports, such as football and basketball, yet he excelled most in soccer. When Omar first started playing soccer, he didn’t have a passion for it, but as he got better, he realized the sport is more than kicking a ball into a net.
“I love the patience, freedom, and strategies that bring out the best plays and moments and the atmosphere,” Omar said.
Omar has developed as a soccer player so successfully, and he is only in high school! As Omar gets better and better at soccer, his competition appears weaker. Because Omar’s skills are advancing so quickly, Issaquah Highlands and even Washington state do not have players of such a high skill level to help him learn. When Omar goes to Spain, he will find all sorts of new competition, including competing for a first-team spot. Omar has connections with RCD Espanyol de Barcelona, a high-level soccer club in Spain; hopefully, we will see him play for them at some point.
About leaving Issaquah Highlands, Omar said, “I will miss the parks and my friends.” That sentiment may seem cliché, but it’s what our community is about; nature and parks are greater here than in other places I have lived. It’s no surprise then that there are lots of young soccer players in Issaquah Highlands. What advice does Omar have for them?
“It’s a lifestyle and a determined mindset that sets the difference between a good player and a great player. To all young soccer players out there, take that in mind at the next practice you have.”
Join me in wishing Omar great success in Spain!
Neal Coppa is a sixth-grader, a Highlands Youth Advisory Board member, and an Issaquah Highlands resident.