History of the best Football Academy
Promoting Education Through Sports
A Warrior Born Into A War
Eugene Harmon was born into a 14-year-long civil war that decimated Liberia’s infrastructure and social fabric. His mother did everything to keep him safe during these times. During the war, some children were even recruited as child soldiers to fight with warring parties, according to a report by Human Rights Watch, an NGO based in New York.
Finding Peace Amongst The Chaos
Eugene Harmon, the CEO of Zion Astro, grew up playing soccer barefoot on the streets of Monrovia, the capital of Liberia in West Africa. His love for soccer and his dream of playing professional soccer started from there on. It was there that his talent and interest in soccer began to develop and grow strong. On the contrary, as a kid, he did not have fancy gears or a well-manicured soccer pitch to practice on. But years of practice paid off on such grounds.
Embarking Upon A New On-field Journey
He moved to the United States in 2009 with his father to pursue higher education.
Here, he started playing for a local soccer team in New Jersey. Because of his history, abilities, and dedication to the sport, he was easily recognized and accepted by his teammates here as well.
Caution: Dark Days Ahead
A year later, he decided to sign up and try out for the New Jersey Ranger Soccer Club. There, he faced a problem. He didn’t have the money, nor the support to pay the try-out fee. Therefore, that opportunity went down the hill.
As another year passed playing on the local team, he got an invitation to travel to Turkey and Chana to try out for a Semi-professional team. But, the same challenge showed its “ugly face” yet again. Given his part-time job making $10/hr. and nothing saved up, he couldn’t afford the plane ticket, nor the additional travel expenses to go there.
His benevolent mother, who always supported his dream with love and encouraging words, had no resources for financial support. On the other hand, his dad didn’t believe in his dream and provided him with no support at all in any way. With the time-sensitive invitation deadline nearing, he even asked other people for support, but not a single person would help him with the money to travel. Unfortunately, the time-sensitive invitation expired and he lost the opportunity to play in Turkey in the end.
The Sun Shone Brighter
After that disappointing experience, he enrolled in a local New Jersey college and tried out for their soccer team. He was fortunately accepted there and played there for a year. But, after a year, he couldn’t continue because he had to leave his father’s house, and move to Philadelphia, PA, to live with his aunt.
Once in Philadelphia, he applied to attend another college and try out for their soccer team. The soccer coach there at Bucks County Community College in Eastern Pennsylvania invited him to join the college’s soccer program and offered him a scholarship after seeing his abilities on the field and his talent. It was a great and passionate moment for him and his mother.
He transferred to the new college in Eastern Pennsylvania, continued his education from there, and had a successful first year with the soccer team advancing to play in the regional finals.
Tough Times Don’t Last, But Tough People Do
However, yet another misfortune occurred during the early start of his second year. He got injured and the latter devastatingly ended his playing career forever. But, “You can’t keep a good man down.”
After the recovery, he decided to become a soccer coach. He contacted his college coach for his guidance. And, he did exactly what he told him. In addition, he soon became a licensed coach in the US.
His former coach recruited him as an Assistant Coach at the college. He worked in this position for two years learning everything he could possibly learn from all of the coaches and staff. Even though this was an unpaid job, it proved to be a great experience in his life and a blessing from God.
Embarking Upon A New On-field Journey
When Harmon went back to Liberia to visit his family in 2016, he saw how the country’s youth continued to suffer from poverty and an unstable living environment.
“The parents would leave home in the morning for work and be away the whole day,” Harmon said. “The kids have no direction. They just do whatever they see. Some of them have nothing to eat during the day and would sell drugs to get food before their parents come home.”
When he came back to the U.S. from his trip, Harmon knew he had to do something about Liberia’s condition.
After coming back, he got to work with one of the best college soccer coaches in the US. Looking back, it was then that the visionary seed was planted as he told his coach, “I will one day be a blessing to kids who love soccer as much as I do!”
Opening The Pathway To Success
Eugene had a vision of opening doors for many unknown talents and kids who can’t afford the cost of participating in the sport or making their dreams come true. As difficult as it was working full time and coaching full time, he loved what he did.
As life would have it and after two years of coaching, he was offered a job at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Afterward, he accepted a position with the State of Ohio and moved to Columbus.
The New Beginning
In Columbus, he knew he had a vision and passion to serve and he didn’t want to put his vision on hold or to bed anymore. So in 2018, he started a soccer program called the Columbus Astro Soccer Club, in Ohio.
Two years later, he started a non-profit soccer program called the Zion Astro Football Academy in his home country to remotely mentor Liberian children between the age of 10 to 15.
”Where every effort is made to support and help kids make their love of, passion for, and dreams of success in the sport of soccer and within their lives a reality!”
Besides hosting soccer practices three times a week, the program also requires participants to have a daily reading schedule, attend regular speaker events, and player development sessions, and engage in community service projects every weekend.
In 2021, Harmon completed the official merging of both Columbus Astro SC and Zion Astro FC, which is now Zion Astro FC (www.zionastro.com)
The Astro Creed
We are undefeated minds
Hard work + Teamwork = Victory
Zion Astro Motto
“Promoting Education Through Sports”
“If you’re not willing to be a student, you can’t play soccer in the organization,”
– Eugene Harmon