Atlanta United Academy graduate Machop Chol knows the definition of hard work. His dedication to the beautiful game has taken him from a local community center to the DDYSC Wolves to the Academy and now to Wake Forest University. Currently in his third year in college, Chol has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
“The only goal for my future is to play at the next level and to excel,” Chol stated with conviction.
As much as he is looking forward to the next phase of his career, Chol understands the value of looking back and remembering how he got here. Every step of his career helped build his confidence as a player while also helping him grow and develop.
“I played for my local YMCA for years prior to coming to the Academy and that is where I met lifelong friends and developed a bit as a footballer,” Chol declared. “It gave me the freedom and confidence I needed to be able to complete at the academy level.”
He never lost sight of that confidence and was able to build on it further during his time at the Academy. The level of competition he faced with Atlanta United helped motivate him to play at the next level and continue to improve his game.
“With the level of competition, it taught me that I had to work and earn every minute on the field,” Chol remembered. “I was also fortunate to learn and get to play against the first team players. It gave me the motivation to go to school and develop as a player if I ever want to compete with those guys.”
The Academy gave him a platform to continue his soccer career while also giving him unbelievable memories. Even as his game developed, he never took any of his experiences for granted.
“My favorite memory with the Academy was playing in the playoffs and being able to wear the same kit as the first team,” Chol continued. “It was surreal for me to think last year I was playing for the YMCA and now I’ll be lining up against other MLS academies.”
Chol scored 11 goals during his time on the Atlanta United FC U-17/18 team in 2016 that helped him land at Wake Forest. In his freshman year, Chol came off the bench and scored a goal in his first collegiate game. After a breakout sophomore season in which he scored 17 points and a junior season that saw him capitalize on his previous success with 16 points, Chol is ready for whatever comes next.
But no matter where his next step takes him, he will always carry with him his love for the game. Helping him stay grounded and hungry is a passion for the game he first fell in love with at 2 years old.
“My family is from South Sudan. We moved to America in 2000 and settled in Clarkston, Georgia, which is home to many refugees,” Chol explained. “That is where I found my passion for the game and where I kicked a ball for the first time.”
Staying true to his roots, Chol recognizes the value of academies and wants the next generation to have the same chances to succeed that he did.
“For the current guys in the academy, the only advice I would give them is to be brave and be hungry,” Chol shared. “Another big piece of advice is to trust the process.”
That faith has served Chol well as he has grown from a toddler just starting to love the game to a collegiate star.