Vancouver Whitecaps defender, Kendall Waston: “I want more footballers to come and play here in the MLS”

Vancouver Whitecaps defender, Kendall Waston spoke to Ollie Baines on how he wants to give the glory back to God through football. 

What was it like playing football in Costa Rica whilst growing up?

“It was not so easy, because everything here in Costa Rica with football is a bit complicated. It’s not so popular like the MLS or the Premier League.”

Because of how difficult it was, did you ever think you’d never make it as a professional player?

“There was one time when I was playing in the U17 National Team and people were telling me that I would never make it because there were other players who were much better than me. But I told myself, I’ve just got to keep working hard and hopefully one day I will make my dream come true.”

You could say you got your big break in 2014 when you were signed by Vancouver Whitecaps, how did that come about?

“My agent came and watched a game I was playing in. I played well and he said that clubs were interested in me. I wanted to move and it just so happened that Vancouver came in with an offer, they were looking for a centre back at the time. 6 months later, they offered me a contract and I signed.”

Best thing about living in Canada?

“Wow, I love it here. I love the culture, the people. It’s so much more secure to live in Canada than Costa Rica.

As well as that, the football is much better and for my family and I, it’s just a better place to live. I’m really enjoying Canada and playing for Vancouver.”

How are you in enjoying the MLS?

“It’s so nice because you can play against top top players like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa. Every match you have to prove yourself because you are playing against top class talent. For me, growing up in Costa Rica and now playing in the MLS, it is just such a pleasure because it’s not easy for us to even get the chance to play out of our own country.”

You mentioned you’ve played against the likes of Gerrard, Lampard, Pirlo & Villa. Who’s the best player you’ve ever faced?

“It would have to be, Andrea Pirlo. He is so smart with and without the ball.

When he plays with Lampard and Villa, things are much easier for him. He plays the game so simply, it’s a joy to watch.”

Kendall, how proud are you to have been nominated for the 2015 MLS Defender of the Year Award?

“That was such a moment where God blessed me, because I think this last year has been the best year of my entire career. Thankfully, I was in the team every week doing well. Being in the Best XI is not easy, because there are so many players who do well all year round, but I do think the way I have played and defender, I deserve to be named in the Best XI and I’m proud of that.”

How honoured are you to represent your country, Costa Rica?

“I am so hounured, because if I do things correctly and I can improve myself, I can help open doors for other players at home in Costa Rica. I want more footballers to come and play here in the MLS.

I’ve just got to continue to try and be the best I can be, but equally, I want to help my team-mates and fellow countrymen.”

Shifting to a faith focus, tell us about when you experienced God for the first time?

“There was one time when I was speaking with a team mate, he was already deep with Jesus. At that time, I was really searching for something that would fill my emptiness and I didn’t know what could fill it. Then I was chatting to this friend and he invited me to church, so I went along with him. From that day, I received Jesus in my heart and in my life.

At the beginning, I accepted Jesus but I wasn’t 100% committed to following his purpose. You know, I’d fail. I was still messing up. But after 2 months, I couldn’t continue in that life. I was going to church one day and failing the next. So, one day, I got on my knees and prayed to God and spoke to the pastor at my Church. The pastor told me to leave the things that are stopping me from having a full relationship with God. So I did, I let those things go because I wanted to be faithful to God in everything. From that moment, I was committed to God and I wanted to do whatever he chose of me.”

Your Twitter reads, “It’s not me, it’s the grace of God within me” – tell us what this means to you?

“I mean that, everything that I do is not by my own strength because I cannot do anything without God. Some people in football think if you score, it is because you are so good or the best. I think it’s because God is moving things around you, to lift you up. I praise God in everything I do, including football because that is the job that God has blessed me with.”

Do you see your footballing ability as a gift from God?

“I see that God gave me that gift, but I have to work to make it better. I want to try and be better so I can give the glory back to God.”

Do you have a favourite Bible verse that encourages you?

“I love Joshua 1v19, it says: Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – I love this verse because my Father in Law, he is a pastor, we were reading the Bible together looking at the life of Joshua and I see that in his case, God sent Joshua to other places whilst he was afraid, because he was fighting against lots of armies to get there. So, I put myself in Joshua’s shoes but in my position. Sometimes in football there can be 60,000 people watching you and you can feel nervous or afraid, but God is saying, do not be afraid, you are beside me, I am in-front of you. Don’t worry. So I keep that word with me all the time, nothing is impossible for God.”

How does God feature in your pre-match routine?

“I always pray with my wife before I go to the stadium, that’s normally when we are playing a home match. If we are away, then I’ll call her on the phone and we will pray together. In the locker room, I always get on my knees and lift my priase up to him. When I enter the field, I lift my hands to God and pray. I don’t pray for God to help us win, instead, I thank God for the opportunity to play. I want to give God the glory and football is just one instrument in which I can share the Gospel to others.”

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