D.C. Teen Named to Elite U.S. Soccer Team

Kalani Takamura of Ward 6 Plays for CapitalFC

Kalani Takamura, age 13, of Capitol Hill, playing for CapitalFC United Red.
Photo credit: W. Scotte MacQueen, Capital FC.

WASHINGTON – Hundreds of thousands of teenaged boys across America play soccer, from small towns to big cities, in affluent neighborhoods and on tough urban streets.

Kalani Takamura, 13, is one of them.

Of those thousands of boys, only 48 were chosen this year to join the prestigious U.S Soccer Boys National Team.

Kalani, who began playing soccer at age 5, is one of them, too.

Councilman Charles Allen praised the youngster and local athletic programs for their work helping the District’s children.

“It’s great to see District kids like Kalani competing and excelling at the very highest levels,” Allen said in a statement.

 “I’m proud of Kalani and his impressive accomplishments, as well as our local community youth sports programs like CapitalFC, Sports on the Hill, and Capitol Hill Little League that provide top-notch skill-building opportunities for thousands of District youth.”

Kalani Takamura playing in 2010. Photo credit: Holly Takamura.

Kalani is currently a player for the United Red boys U14 team, a division of CapitalFC. He began playing for CaptialFC at the age of eight.  An eight-grade honor student at BASIS Washington D.C. Public Charter School, Kalani said he is excited about his invitation to train just outside Los Angeles with the national team for boys under 15. 

“It was very exciting,” Kalani said. “I felt that it could be a great opportunity for me to learn and develop.”

Kalani’s coach, Mike Barnette, spoke highly of his accomplishments.

“I’ve had the pleasure to coach Kalani for six years,” Barnette said. “He has always been the smallest kid on the team, but his skill, heart and dedication to the game sets him apart.  

“He really stood out on our team’s recent trip to Barcelona (Spain) and he has carried his strong play through the summer.”  

Takamura practices twice a week for about an hour and a half each time. When he’s not conditioning or honing his skills, he said, he enjoys hanging with his friends, some of whom also play soccer. Having friends that are also on the same soccer team, make the game more fun and “relaxed,” he said.

While Kalani’s parents said there are proud of their son’s soccer abilities, they said it was important to have a balance between school and playing travel soccer.

“Well it is a lot,” his mother, Holly Takamura, said. “Travel soccer takes a lot of time and commitment, and he is in a very good school. Academically, he is a very proficient student, which takes a lot of time to do homework and study. But I think we try to do a good job of making sure he has a lot of balance.”

Kalani’s father, Eric Takamura, said the family allows Kalani to make the decisions for himself when it comes to the sport.

Kalani from 2005. Photo credit: Holly Takamura.

“That’s always a consideration within the whole scope of things, but the way we let it go is to leave it up to him and the only thing I supplied was if you made a commitment for something, you keep with the commitment,” his father said. “Otherwise it was up to him where and what he wanted to spend his time with, with the first priority always being the grades.

Kalani credits many of his achievements to old fashioned hard work and practice.

 “Practice, practice, practice,” he said. “Without practice, you don’t develop and hone your skills. You can practice all you want just on what you want to do, and you become good at it.”

 For more information on CaptialFC, visit their website at https://capitalfc.org/.