top of page
  • Writer's pictureYK Galaxy Staff

YK Galaxy 15-year-old trains at soccer’s West Ham United

A 15-year-old Yellowknife soccer player is spending two seeks training with top youth coaches at English Premier League club West Ham United.

Tanaka Muwirimi did the same last summer and was then invited back, his father Panganai said, after coaches at the 2022 camp expressed interest in him.

Muwirimi hopes this year’s camp can serve as a springboard for his dream of playing academy football in Europe.

“I hope I get exposure, and a lot more coaches – not just in Canada but coaches in England – can see what I can offer,” he told Cabin Radio.

“And hopefully, if all goes well, maybe even another chance to come back to the West Ham team.”

Tanaka Muwirimi, centre, at the 2023 Arctic Winter Games with members of Team NT. Ollie Williams/Team NT

Muwirimi was born in Toronto and grew up in Edmonton before moving to Yellowknife with his family in 2019. Since arriving in the Northwest Territories, he has played for the NWT at the 2022 Canada Summer Games and 2023 Arctic Winter Games, where he scored eight goals in five games, the second-highest scoring rate in the tournament.

Despite moving from Edmonton to a city with only two clubs, Muwirimi said he has benefited from the insights of his coaches at Yellowknife’s YK Galaxy, even if the games themselves are not as fast-paced as they were in Alberta.

“It’s a good adjustment to see different types of footballing knowledge – our coaches are much different here than they are in Alberta, so to get that different shift in knowledge is always good,” he said.

His father added: “He comes from a soccer family. I’ve got four boys, they all played soccer. He started playing when he turned six and when he was eight, you could see he was good at it.

“West Ham do some camps for international players so we took a chance and we sent him there, and they showed some interest. They liked the way he played and they said: ‘Can you bring him back next year?’ He’s so excited.”

‘Remarkable skill and leadership’

Fresh off the plane at the London club, Muwirimi has fought off jet lag to train for six hours each day this week, working on defensive one-on-one and two-on-two drills, passing and shooting.

“In a sense it was a lot scarier last year, because I was by myself and it was my first time. But last year it was really good to get that feel of competitive football with academy coaches,” he said by phone on Wednesday.

“This time it’s a lot more physical, more fast-paced, and I’m getting a lot more out of it.

“It’s very exhilarating. Even just having the training shirt with the logo gives me a lot of pride. It’s always good to have that feeling of playing academy football for a big team.”

By email, his YK Galaxy club said his journey had been “incredibly inspiring, and we are immensely proud of his dedication and talent both on and off the field.” “Since joining the team in 2020,” the club wrote, “Tanaka has demonstrated remarkable skill and leadership, making a significant impact in various tournaments and competitions.

“We are confident that Tanaka’s skill, leadership, and determination will shine through during this exciting opportunity.”

Ultimately, Panganai Muwirimi said, his son may well have to head back south to find the quality of soccer he needs to keep improving. But that isn’t yet a certainty. Panganai said Tanaka has resisted that move so far, waiting to get feedback from West Ham’s coaches before making decisions about leaving Yellowknife.

“It’s his dream, not my dream,” said the father. “I have discussed it with him but he’s saying, ‘Give me time.’ He wants to come back from West Ham and see what they say.”

From London, Manchester United fan Tanaka said the dream is European soccer.

“My hope is that I could get an opportunity to play academy football here in England, or even hopefully in Europe,” he said. “To get that high-quality football every day, constantly.”


YK Galaxy coach Dillon Torindo, left, with Tanaka Muwirimi. Photo: Supplied

38 views0 comments


bottom of page