In an exclusive interview with MLS GB, Kingsley “Fifi” Baiden explains his rise from the backstreets of Ghana to the glamour of Major League Soccer, as well as his hopes for the season with the Columbus Crew.
Fifi Baiden was drafted by the Columbus Crew with the fourth pick in the third round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, fulfilling his long-term dream to play professional on the world stage.
The 22-year-old holding midfielder is just the second Right to Dream graduate to sign for an MLS side, after Michael Tetteh was drafted by the Seattle Sounders in 2011.
Baiden grew up loving football and explains how the game is played throughout Ghana and can create brighter futures for children.
“Football is played in all corners of Ghana. On the streets, in the backyard, and in any open area, whether its sandy or gravel, you see kids playing football.”
“Due to the economic hardship of my family, and Ghana in general, football is another way to create opportunities for a better future. Unable for my parents to afford my education at an early age, I got plenty of time to play soccer with my uncles and friends on the streets.”
His love for football and determination to succeed saw Baiden graduate from the Right to Dream academy, and enabled him to make the jump to the US to pursue his career as a professional footballer.
After playing soccer for several years in the US, including four years of college soccer at UC Santa Barbara, the Ghanaian is now ready to make an impression on Major League Soccer with Columbus.
He has yet to make an appearance for the Crew, but is patient and is working hard as ever to ensure his ready when the opportunity arrives.
“As a rookie, my main aim is to work very hard to get on the field. We have very competitive and talented players, and everyone is doing the best they can to maintain their position as a starter or in the 18 man squad.”
“It is my goal to break into the 18 man squad and start playing games to offer my contribution to the team in anyway I can. It takes patience, and I believe my aim will be achieved soon when the time is right.”
The Crew ended an eight-game winless streak by beating Chicago Fire on Saturday night and Baiden said prior to the game that Columbus were ready to turn their season around.
“We are doing well, all the games we played have been close in terms of the results. We just have to keep working hard as a group, and find ways to score goals and not give up goals as well. Everyone is doing their best and I believe we will get over the hurdle.”
The rookie wasn’t wrong, and the Crew will now look to build on what was their first win since March.
Fifi Baiden will hope to be a part of their rise this season, as they look to make the playoffs once more.
The midfielder has come a long way from watching the likes of Steven Gerrard in Ghanaian theatres, and his bright future will only take him further.
“I used to sneak into theaters to catch a glimpse of any football played on TV, and I listened to the radio a lot for big names like Steven Gerrard, Messi, Kaka etc.”
Now it is time for Fifi Baiden’s name to be broadcast around the world, and we look forward to seeing him in action when he makes his eagerly anticipated MLS debut with Columbus.