By Bob Narang

Prep Sports Report –

Growing up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Moses Mata dreamed of a better life.

Little did Mata realize that soccer would play a big part in helping him achieve that dream.

These days, the Plainfield Central forward is a normal teenager adjusting to the fast pace life of suburban American.

“I always had dreams to come to America, to play soccer and attend college,” Mata said.

Four years ago, Mata moved to the Plainfield area. He spoke very little English and struggled with simple paperwork tasks and adapting to the American culture.

“At that time, I was hardly speaking any English so it was very difficult and different here than my African culture,” Mata said. “I couldn’t speak English in complete sentences.”

The senior’s transition to a new country and school led to other problems. Mata went on a vacation to Canada, which caused him to miss soccer tryouts in his freshman year because he didn’t know the dates at his new school.

“I was mad, because I didn’t know everything here and had to wait until the next summer to play soccer for Plainfield Central,” Mata said. “

Coach Kevin Fitzgerald recalled watching a gifted, but shy soccer player struggle to adapt to a new language and culture.

“Moses was quiet, but you could see his obvious talents,” Fitzgerald said. “Getting him signed up online and turning in proper paperwork like a physical and so many other things most guys take for granted was something he needed to learn.”

As a sophomore, Mata finally got a chance to showcase his growing skill set on the varsity. He participated in the PepsiCo Showdown, helping guide the Wildcats to a solid showing. Mata said he’s thrilled for his team’s return visit to the prestigious tournament.

“I’m really excited to play in PepsiCo again, especially after playing in my sophomore year,” he said. “It was a great experience. I have a lot of good memories.”

Fitzgerald said Mata, one of eight returning starters, is an integral player for the Wildcats.

“Moses is an amazing 1-v-1 player with quick moves, lots of speed and real strength on the ball,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s very skilled and our leading goal scorer. He can play in college and should.”

Bio on reporter: Bob Narang has been covering prep recruiting and sports for the past 26 years. His work also appears in the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and the DeKalb Daily Chronicle.