For many years, Samuel Binogono and Jacob Chiza have been best friends on and off the field. They have a strong commitment to each other and to the team. Whether it’s getting tutoring help for a class or working off campus, Binogono and Chiza pour their heart into everything they do.
“They’re two beautiful kids. They’re just wonderful, caring, passionate kids [who] love the game [and] love being on a team,” said Head Coach Rick Scott.
However, life hasn’t always been easy for Binogono and Chiza. Coming from the Congo, both men, at the time boys, lived in refugee camps before moving to America. There, they experienced many hardships and trials. Nonetheless, they persevered.
Once in Manchester, N.H., Binogono and Chiza joined “Bring It,” a program aimed at unifying immigrants with their surrounding community while teaching them about the sport of soccer. This is where they played together for the first time.
Although 2008 was their first year playing together, Binogono and Chiza have been acquainted from a young age. Binogono used to babysit Chiza’s younger sisters. He said, “Every time I used to go over to [Chiza’s] house, I would just eat food and leave, and that would be it. And he would be like, ‘Is that all you’re coming here for, is to eat?’”
Speaking on the beginning of their friendship, Chiza said, “We didn’t become best friends until we got into a fight.”
Binogono responded with, “We got into a fight for a stupid reason. His team sucked, so we beat his team really bad. Everyone was talking trash back and forth to each other and somehow he chose to fight me.”
After “Bring It,” they joined the Inti Soccer Academy, another program whose goal is to educate and entertain immigrant and refugee children in the ways of soccer and academics. Years later, both ended up attending Central High School where they played for the men’s soccer team.
Binogono went on to become the state’s leading scorer during his senior year in 2013. Because of Scott’s close friendship with Chris LaBerge, the head coach at Central, Binogono was recruited to play for Keene State College, with Chiza coming in the year after.
“I’ll take care of you guys on and off the field,” Scott promised the boys, ultimately finding them jobs and making sure they worked on their academics as hard as they did their athletics.
This year, both Binogono and Chiza are playing for the Owls and couldn’t be more excited.
“It’s amazing playing with your best friend, we both speak the same language on the field; it’s just amazing,” said Binogono.
“The chemistry we have is unbelievable. We know where we are each time we pass the ball and it’s not that hard because we used to play with each other,” responded Chiza.
After they graduate from college, Binogono and Chiza both have dreams of traveling and possibly living together.
“This kid wants to have an apartment together, but we want to travel after college and see how it is,” stated Binogono.
Alexandria Saurman can be contacted at asaurman@kscequinox