Wednesday, January 19News That Matters

Alphonso Davies Wants to Share His Story

Over the last couple of years, Davies has done all he can to share it. He has given interviews to Gary Lineker and the BBC about his background. Bayern Munich — the club that signed him from the Whitecaps as a 17-year-old and made him a German and European champion before he turned 20 — produced a report from Buduburam on the early years of his life.

Most important, though, in the first few months of his coronavirus-imposed lockdown last year, Davies started to use his fame and his platform to become an advocate for those suffering as his family once had.

For many of the 80 million or so displaced people around the planet, he said, “food and water can be hard to come by.” He continued: “It is not always possible in those conditions to social distance. Access to the vaccine is difficult. People are passing away. I wanted to tell people that they are not alone, that there are people out there who were in their shoes.”

He started to lend his support to the work being done by the U.N.H.C.R., the United Nations refugee agency, the body that helped organize his family’s resettlement in Canada. This week, the organization will appoint Davies as a good-will ambassador. He hopes to use the position to raise money to renovate soccer facilities in refugee camps. He is not only the first Canadian, but also the first soccer player, to be afforded the honor.

It is fitting in more ways than one. It is not just the first act of Davies’s story that makes him suitable, but the second, too. In his first few years in Canada, he struggled a little academically, partly because of a language barrier and partly, he will admit, through a lack of inclination.

As a gifted athlete, though, he never found any trouble fitting in. Edmonton is Gretzky country, but he did not take to ice hockey. (His skating has improved in recent years, he said.) Instead, he played a little basketball, and emerged as a talented track runner. But soccer was his first love, his clear gift, the sport he had grown up watching with his father, a keen fan of both Chelsea and, in particular, Didier Drogba.