Centre-back Egwu joins Griffins after playing for FC Edmonton

Kelsey Egwu is the fourth Griffins player with FC Edmonton experience (Jaelyn Birch photo).
Kelsey Egwu is the fourth Griffins player with FC Edmonton experience (Jaelyn Birch photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – As they prepare for their first road trip of the 2022 Canada West season, the Griffins men's soccer team has added another key recruit to their lineup.

Centre-back Kelsey Egwu joins the 0-1-1 team after spending the Canadian Premier League season with FC Edmonton. He will be in line for minutes this weekend as the Griffins visit Lethbridge on Friday (5 p.m.) and Saskatchewan on Sunday (2 p.m., both Canada West TV).

Egwu becomes the fourth Griffins player to go from pro to university after appearing in one game for FC Edmonton this past season – May 14 at Pacific FC when he played the entire 90 minutes.

"It was crazy. It was a dream come true, playing in front of a big crowd in a stadium, wearing a professional jersey with my name on the back," said Egwu of the game in Victoria. "It was good representing my city. I'm proud of myself."

Griffins head coach Adam Loga noted Egwu is the piece of his lineup he's been in search of for a long time. 

"We've always kind of been searching for that centre back and we've morphed players into that role," he said. "(Zach) Rochat came to us as a fullback and Chance (Carter) came to us as a centre defensive midfielder, so to have a natural centre back like Kels, especially from the standard he's coming from – FC Edmonton – is great.

"It's a testament to the program. Obviously, it's a destination he wants to be, which is humbling for us, especially the leaders who have been here four or five years."

The 6-foot-5 defender was born in Toronto, but lived in Nigeria for a couple of years before moving back to Canada, settling in Edmonton, in 2015. He is eligible to play for the national teams of both countries.

But as he develops with a goal of getting to that standard, Egwu has a lot to offer MacEwan.

"I would say I'm a big, strong athletic centre back and pretty fast, as well," said Egwu. "I'm pretty good on the ball with both feet, good in the air. With my voice, I think I'm pretty good as well; I'm pretty loud on the field. 

"For centre-backs as young as me, it's better for us to show a presence and have confidence to show people we're not scared and we're willing to do whatever it takes to get to the next level."

Egwu is already well immersed with the Griffins after recently representing Team Alberta at the Canada Summer Games with fellow MacEwan players Ali Blaybel, David Sithole, Yusupha Bangura and Manny Kanu. As well, he is a product of BTB Academy, a proving ground for many Griffins players.

"He's very well immersed with the guys," said Loga. "Players are sometimes your best recruiters and I think this is an example of that. They found success at the Canada Summer Games and at the Western Canada Summer Games.

"When you find success at certain standards, you want that again. You share a moment with those individuals that you never forget. I think that's a bond that doesn't leave and they want to do something more with it."