Delaying aspirations of playing pro in Germany, Masri flying in opportunity with Griffins

Philip Masri, left, celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against Saskatchewan on Aug. 26 (Jefferson Hagen photo).
Philip Masri, left, celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against Saskatchewan on Aug. 26 (Jefferson Hagen photo).

Jason Hills
For MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON — Germany's loss has become the MacEwan Griffins' gain.

Philip Masri had aspirations of playing professional soccer in Germany this past year, but after weighing his options while he was on trial overseas, he chose to come home, and he's been a very welcome addition to the Griffins to start their 2023 Canada West season.

Through the first four games, Masri has recorded a goal and two assists to help lead MacEwan to a 2-2-0 record as they get set to face the UBC Thunderbirds (Saturday, 12 p.m.) and the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack (Sunday, 4:30 p.m., both games Clarke Stadium, Canada West TV) this weekend.

"I definitely thought I could make that jump to the (pros), but I felt I rushed it, and I didn't go there with the right foundation around me," said Masri.

"I felt I needed to come back home and continue to develop and give myself a better opportunity to make a name for myself."

Masri is certainly making a name for himself in his freshman season. 

The former BTB Academy star scored the game-winning goal in the 87th minute in a thrilling 3-2 win over the Saskatchewan Huskies to give the Griffins their first win of the season on Aug. 26. Then, last weekend on the road in Calgary, he tallied an assist in a 3-1 win over the Calgary Dinos.

"Playing this past summer in League 1 against so many of the top players at this level, I really got a taste of playing at this level, and my goal was to come in and make an impact," said Masri.

"My goal all along has been to be a big part of this program, and help them do whatever it takes to take the necessary steps to grow as a program. We want to make the playoffs."

Phil Masri heads a ball against Lethbridge in MacEwan's home opener Aug. 25 (Joel Kingston photo).

Masri spent the last two seasons with the BTB Academy, in Edmonton,  playing and developing and working hard to try and make it to the next level.

BTB Academy has done an incredible job since its inception in 2020. It's provided pathways for many of the top young soccer athletes to pursue opportunities at the U SPORTS, NCAA and professional ranks.

Masri is thriving in his opportunity with the Griffins.

"When I started training with BTB Academy, two years ago, they really help you realize your potential," said Masri.

"What (BTB Academy) is doing is iconic. They're really changing the soccer culture in this city. They've helped so many young kids strive to reach their potential."

His coach at BTB Academy was Allan Zebie, who is in his first year as an assistant coach with the Griffins.

Masri said that the former FC Edmonton defender and local product has played a big part in developing Masri on and off the pitch.

"Allan (Zebie) has really shown me the steps of what it takes to go pro, and that's my ultimate goal in the future," said Masri.

"After things didn't work out in Germany, he wanted me to look at my opportunities at the U SPORTS level, and this opportunity has really given me the chance to showcase my skills."

Masri initially planned to go play for the Mount Royal Cougars, but when his former BTB coach joined the Griffins coaching staff, he knew that's where he wanted to be.

"One conversation with Allan, and I knew that's where I wanted to be," he said. "Allan is so supportive of my journey on and off the pitch. It's a blessing to have him on my side."

Phil Masri's goal late in MacEwan's match against Saskatchewan on Aug. 26 was a thing of beauty. 

Sometimes when athletes get the taste of the professional game, their mind is so set at playing at that level, their heart isn't always in it, if they end up moving down a level.

That's not the case with Masri.

While he still has dreams and aspirations to play the game he loves professionally in the future, he's all in with the Griffins.

"My main priority is to get myself into an environment that allows me to be the best player I can be at this time. I've found that with MacEwan. I want nothing more than to help this program get better, and be a big part of it," said Masri.

"This soccer journey I'm on is still amazing. I'm training hard and I have great people around me who are pushing me hard. I take my opportunity with MacEwan very seriously and I'm grateful to be here.

"As an athlete, your mindset is everything. It's a long journey. This is where I am right now, and I always want to stay hungry and stay humble and just make the most of every opportunity I'm given."