By Daniel Cermak/NPSL.com
Former Club Atletico Saint Louis forward Chevaughn Walsh has signed a professional contract with Hoang Anh Gia Lai FC (HAGL FC) in Vietnam. The chance to play a professional is not on lost on Walsh, who has an easy-going demeanor with a lot of personality and humor.
“It’s really great. When you’re growing up as a kid that’s all you dream about is to play professionally,” Walsh said. “It’s really been a dream come true. Well, other than the dream to get in FIFA soon.”
Walsh spent the 2018 season with Club Atletico Saint Louis.
“It was a great time, I was able to connect with my college teammates,” Walsh said. “And Ricky (Club Atletico Saint Louis Owner Ricardo Garza) has always been there for me. He’s been my guide and was really why HAGL noticed me in the first place.”
Walsh joined HAGL FC following his time with Club Atletico Saint Louis, thanks in large part to Garza. Following his time with CASTL, Garza and Walsh’s agent helped set up a tryout with HAGL, where Walsh scored as a substitute in the first game and helped his team through an annual tournament.
Garza is proud of Walsh for starting his professional career, but also wants to make sure Walsh and all of his players are always looking ahead.
“I brought Chevy to the United States to play college for me originally, and we’ve been through a lot to get him where he is now,” Garza said. “One thing I try to do with our CASTL players is help them think ahead of their current situation. I tell players if you are blessed to become a pro, take advantage of building a network of opportunity around you and build for the future.”
Overall, Walsh is loving his time with his club and his new country.
“I think the country is honestly poorly advertised for what’s here, beautiful beaches, the people are naturally friendly,” Walsh said. The amount of support also surprised Walsh who commends all of the fans, but now understands the difficulty that comes with the attention.
“Even just getting off the bus there were so many people, it was overwhelming, more than I ever expected,” Walsh said. “I used to think pop stars who don’t sign autographs were mean, but now it almost makes sense, there’s just so much support, like after trainings, I would miss the team dinner if I signed all these autographs, and I can’t miss it.”
Those team meals have been a major source of positivity for the team and has helped Walsh grow accustomed to his new environment.
“Most of my teammates are very good about learning English, so the language barrier is not a problem,” Walsh said. “Our team is pretty good with bonding and stuff like that, we have three meals a day, it’s not always mandatory, but at least two meals a day the whole team eats together and we always do things together.”
The food has also helped the Jamaican national feel right at home. “In Jamaica everything is naturally grown, and Vietnam is the same, so I’ve felt just like I’m home.”
Walsh’s goals for the team is to pick the team up from some difficult seasons in recent years.
“The last couple of years haven’t been great, but this year, we won our first game for the first time in ten years, and the team we beat, we haven’t ever beat them and we scored four goals,” Walsh, who scored two of the four goals and added an assist, said. “Our goal at first was to finish top four, that’s our baseline, but I feel like we’re a team that’s strong enough to win the whole thing, but we have to play together to make that happen.”
After his successful start to achieving his dream of playing as a professional soccer player, given his strengths on the field and his ability to have fun and bond with his teammates, Walsh could very well achieve his dream of being in FIFA as well.
Photo Credit: Club Atletico Saint Louis