Raphael Ohin won’t allow himself to get complacent or satisfied. Not for a moment.
Sure, he dreams just as big as anyone playing soccer professionally – about big moments in big stadiums in mammoth games. Yet, there’s also something to be said about familiarity and comfort in his profession, one that can make nomads out of players and have them living out of suitcases for weeks, months and years on end.
“I’m excited to be back,” Ohin told CanPL.ca. “People have been asking me the question over the last few months, ‘Raph, what is next? Are you going somewhere? You had a great season last year and this year you had a good tournament? Are going somewhere?’
“The only thing I tell them is I’m happy where I am right now. I’m a Valour guy and there’s nothing better than playing in front of your own fans… I know unfortunately we couldn’t do that this year, but I knew they were watching this year. Being around these coaches and my family, those things are important. Who doesn’t want to be with their family? Family is the most important thing.
“I don’t want to say that I’m just comfortable where I am, but… long story short: I move when God wants me to move. The people that know me, know my faith means a lot to me.”
Ohin’s second season in the Canadian Premier League built on a solid rookie campaign in 2019. He appeared in all seven matches at The Island Games in PEI, totalling 500 minutes.
There was an obvious growth, too, as Ohin played with more confidence and poise, all the while keeping up his frenetic pace and relentless competitiveness.
“I heard that from people,” Ohin said with a chuckle. “And I heard that they said that a few times on OneSoccer (game casts). I appreciate hearing that. It’s good for my confidence. But deep down within me if you ask, ‘Were you satisfied?’ I will say I wasn’t. I know I can do more. I had an OK season, that’s what I tell people. I really feel there’s more I can show. I’m not done yet. Every year, every season, every day I’m working to get better. I don’t want to be satisfied.
“I’m looking forward to next season. I don’t talk much. I want to put everything into action and I want people to see what I’m trying to say: that there’s more in me, more that I can show.”
Ohin credits Valour coach Rob Gale for helping him take the next steps in developing his game, but also Eduardo Badescu, his coach during his days with WSA Winnipeg – Ohin joined Valour in 2019 after spending the previous three seasons with WSA Winnipeg in the Professional Development League.
“Rob has helped me a lot,” Ohin said. “He really helped me work on playing two-touch soccer in this past tournament; keeping it simple and working on getting the ball from the defenders up to the midfielders, winning battles, winning the ball and clearing the midfield.
“And whenever I go to play I remember two basic things Eduardo told me: whenever you play, have fun. And when you’re on the bench, get ready. All the time, every game.
“The only way I can be myself is when I’m having fun. If I’m not having fun, I’m not Raphael. This is my passion. This is my sport. I’ve sacrificed a lot for this sport. So, whenever I step on the field I want to enjoy the beautiful game and have fun.”
Ohin’s signing continues a trend that has seen Valour work to retain some key pieces, including Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Masta Kacher and Brett Levis. To a man they have all stressed the talent and chemistry the squad flashed in its seven-match Island Games experience and the need to continue to build on that.
“I’m excited for the team. As a collective we did better than last year,” Ohin said. “The coaching staff were amazing… I have to say that with all of us in the bubble they did a great job sticking beside us through the whole process.
“It was way different than last year. Waaaay different. This team had a heart to play and they put the team first. There was lots going on this year with the pandemic, the fight against racism and going into the bubble, which no one had experienced before. But in every situation you have to take away the positives and one of the positive things of being in the bubble is the team really bonded. We never had that before.
“There were no fights, no misunderstandings. It was peaceful. Our coaches made sure we were always in the right mind, doing the right things and always ready. It was such a short season but after it was done I was telling people that if the Valour board can bring back most of the players next year we are going to be way different,” Ohin added.
“This will be a team that can cause problems in the league because you could see the chemistry building. I’m excited to see so many of the guys coming back.”