HARRISBURG — At five years old, Lucky Mkosana did not play video games or watch cartoons, he only played the beautiful game. Mkosana, now a forward for Penn FC, remains grateful for the process, passion and opportunity the game has given him on and off the field.
Born in Zimbabwe, Mkosana’s passion was simple: to play football. Any free time he had was spent playing. After passing the necessary exams, Mkosana attended a soccer academy in Harare, Zimbabwe, where he continued to develop his skills until applying to local universities that year.
When Mkosana was not getting any feedback, he turned his ear to opportunity. Methembe Ndlovu, co-founder of Grassroot Soccer, was organising US coaches to come scout the talent in Zimbabwe. Coaches Jeff Cook and Fran O’Leary held a two-day showcase of 44 players, allowing Mkosana to be seen. He showed well.
The beautiful game first brought Mkosana to Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire, then to Cook at Dartmouth College. During his time at Dartmouth, Mkosana was named Ivy League Rookie of the Year (2008), All Ivy League First Team (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011), and Ivy League Player of the Year (2011).
“The developmental/college path has shaped a lot of life skills I hold now. Being able to work with a group (team) of different people to achieve one goal is a big one for me. It requires understanding, dedication, discipline, punctuality, honesty, trust, hard work and a lot of sacrifices. I’m grateful that these skills have applied in other situations outside soccer. Understanding group dynamics and learning how to solve conflicts is one of the skills I’ve acquired playing the beautiful game.”
After graduating from Dartmouth, Mkosana played for USL developmental league club Michigan Bucks, then went on to be selected in the 2012 MLS Super Draft by the Chicago Fire. The Harrisburg City Islanders, a USL Pro club, signed Mkosana in 2012, where he stayed until signing with the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League [NASL] in 2014. Continuing his play in the NASL, Mkosana signed with the New York Cosmos in September 2015.
Once again, the beautiful game brought Mkosana elsewhere, this time as a seasoned veteran, to Penn FC.
“With the Rush soccer partnership, everything made sense for me to come and join Penn FC. I did more research about Rush and I was happy after reading the vision statement.”
The Penn FC and Rush partnership resonates with Mkosana. He too believes in youth development, and knows the impact himself.
In November of 2017, Mkosana founded BYS Academy, or Bridging Youth through Soccer, a year-round academy seeking to mentor underprivileged kids to help them attend school in the US and play professionally. The academy’s goal is to use soccer as a catalyst to mobilise, develop, and change lives by investing in the youths of the community.
Mkosana brings talent and experience to Penn FC, coupled with heart for the development of youths in his community back home. The beautiful game has taken Mkosana places, and he intends to help the game empower others.
This year, he has taken on a partnership role with the Rush Equipment Assisting Children (REACH) programme, which has donated more than 100 000 pieces of soccer gear to communities around the world since its inception in 2002.