‘Having Fun’ Keeps Soccer Standout At Top Of His Game

Kapolei forward Keo Ponce

Kapolei forward Keo Ponce

In his first two seasons playing for the Kapolei soccer team, forward Keo Ponce has equaled instant offense. And with Iolani, Punahou and Kamehameha on the slate this weekend as part of the Oahu Interleague Soccer Showcase, Ponce and his teammates know they’ll have to bring their “A” game every night out.

The senior forward, if anything, thrives on playing in big games, and he’s already established himself as a big-time scorer in his first two years with 26 career goals in 35 games.

“I’m excited (for this weekend),” said Ponce. “I want to see what the ILH teams have and how they’ll proceed throughout the season.”

In only three years, the showcase has established itself as soccer’s premier prep event of the pre-season, already having produced three state champions, including last year’s Division I champ, Kalani. The Hurricanes, who went 12-3-1 last year, open the OISS versus Punahou at 7 p.m. Thursday.

They’ll play a pair of games on Saturday – Kamehameha at 9 a.m. and Iolani in the tournament’s final game at 7 p.m.

Ponce recently sat down for an interview with MidWeek‘s West Oahu Islander:

What is your earliest soccer-related memory? Playing with my uncle’s team when I was 6. I started as a goalkeeper – I wasn’t a forward back then. I enjoyed being a keeper when I played there. It was easy. All you had to do was go for the ball and make sure it didn’t go into the net.

Who’s had the biggest impact on your life? My dad (Eduardo). He’s always been there for my games, and he gives me tips and tells me how I can be better. That makes it fun. We watch soccer games together.

What area of your game did you focus on during the off-season? Mainly, (using) my right foot, because I’m left-footed. I’m trying to make my right better, and I’m working on my vision. I want to become a creative forward and not just a target man.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned through soccer? Just to have fun while you play. You play better – and are at the top of your game – when you are just having fun.

Who is Kapolei’s best “practice player” – the guy who puts out the best effort? There are three: Clarence Wong, Aldo Ramirez and Tyler Henry. They all give it 110 percent every day at practice. They take it seriously, and that helps make us better.

What Internet site do you frequent the most? YouTube. Mainly, I lookat soccer goals or anything related to soccer.

What is your least favorite household chore? Taking out the trash.

What movie could you watch over and over? The Avengers.

Who are three of your favorite musical artists? Bruno Mars, Drake, and I also like to listen to Eminem.

Do you play video games? What systems do you have? What is your favorite? I have a PS(PlayStation)3. My favorite game is FIFA 14 (a pro soccer game).

You’re stuck on Kahoolawe and can have an endless supply of only food. What would it be? Cheese pizza.

If you could have your pick, what celebrity would you most like to meet? (Manchester United professional soccer player) Javier Hernandez.